Just about every type of extreme weather event is becoming less frequent and less severe in recent years as our planet continues its modest warming in the wake of the Little Ice Age. While global warming activists attempt to spin a narrative of ever-worsening weather, the objective facts tell a completely different story.
New Records for Lack of Tornadoes
New data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration show the past 12 months set a record for the fewest tornadoes in recorded history. Not only did Mother Nature just set a record for lack of tornado activity, she absolutely shattered the previous record for fewest tornadoes in a 12-month period. During the past 12 months, merely 197 tornadoes struck the United States. Prior to this past year, the fewest tornadoes striking the United States during a 12-month period occurred from June 1991 through July 1992, when 247 tornadoes occurred.
The new tornado record is particularly noteworthy because of recent advances in tornado detection technology. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is able to detect more tornadoes in recent years than in prior decades due to technological advances. Even with such enhanced tornado detection capability, the past 12 months shattered all prior records for recorded tornadoes.
NOAA posted a list of the five “lowest non-overlapping 12 month counts on record from 1954-present.” Notably, each of these low-tornado periods occur since 1986, precisely during the time period global warming alarmists claim global warming is causing more extreme weather events such as tornadoes. According to NOAA, the lowest non-overlapping 12 month counts on record from 1954-present, with the starting month, are:
197 tornadoes – starting in May 2012
247 tornadoes – starting in June 1991
270 tornadoes – starting in November 1986
289 tornadoes – starting in December 2001
298 tornadoes – starting in June 2000
On a related note, a new record for the longest stretch of consecutive days without a tornado death occurred during 2012 and 2013.
New Records for Lack of Hurricanes
Hurricane inactivity is also setting all-time records. The United States is undergoing its longest stretch in recorded history without a major hurricane strike, with each passing day extending the unprecedented lack of severe hurricanes, according to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration data.
It has been more than 2,750 days since a major hurricane struck the United States. This easily smashes the prior record of less than 2,300 days between major hurricane strikes.
Although global warming activists and their media allies often claim global warming is making extreme weather events more frequent and severe, virtually all extreme weather events are becoming less frequent and less severe as our planet gradually warms.
Droughts, Wildfires, Etc.
Pretty much all other extreme weather events are becoming less frequent and less severe, also. Soil moisture is in long-term improvement at nearly all sites in the Global Soil Moisture Data Bank. Droughts are less frequent and less severe than in prior, colder centuries. The number of wildfires is in long-term decline despite a recent change in wildfire policy that no longer actively suppresses wildfires. Just about any way you measure it, extreme weather events are becoming quite rare.
Anecdotes vs. Objective Data
Despite all this good news, a growing number of people believe global warming is causing an increase in extreme weather events. This is no accident. Fully aware of the objective facts, global warming activists are doing everything they can to distract people from the truth. Although extreme weather events are becoming less frequent, the Earth is a big place with a dynamic climate. There will always be some extreme weather events, even as they become less frequent and less severe. Global warming activists can always highlight some extreme weather event occurring somewhere on the planet and paint a false narrative that global warming must be to blame, even though extreme weather events are becoming rarer as the planet gradually warms and returns to pre-Little Ice Age norms.
Major hurricanes struck the U.S. Northeast on a fairly regular basis during the first half of the 20th century when temperatures were cooler. Now, as our planet warms, hurricanes of any sort almost never strike the U.S. Northeast. As a result, when even a minor hurricane like Sandy strikes the Northeast, it is a seemingly unheard of weather event. We can thank global warming for the fact that even a small hurricane like Sandy is a rare event in the U.S. Northeast. The same applies for tornadoes, droughts, etc.
Thank goodness science is conducted according to objective facts rather than activist propaganda!
[First published at Forbes]
“Constitutions are checks upon the hasty action of the majority. They are the self-imposed restraints of a whole people upon a majority of them to secure sober action and a respect for the rights of the minority, and of the individual.”
William Howard Taft wrote that in 1911 to impress upon the people of Arizona that their constitution should reflect the undeniable fact that “the unabridged expression of the majority… converted hastily into law or action would sometimes make a government tyrannical and cruel.”
How many times, after the Senate’s recent gun control vote, did you hear politicians and commentators regurgitate the statistic that ‘90% of the American People’ supported an expansion of background checks or some other gun control measure? Gun control advocates from the President on down to Piers Morgan were incensed by the fact that they couldn’t turn 90% into 60 votes. The Left went on and on about how the Senate, and, by implication, the political process had failed the 90%. They wanted, no – they demanded an explanation. Well, here it is: The Constitution!
What too many people seem to have forgotten is that the Constitution was supposed to keep majorities at bay. It was designed to protect a minority of voters from having to live under the thumb of a political majority. In what is perhaps the heyday of government overreach, the Constitution is still fighting for us, serving one of its most important purposes – protecting the liberty of the few against the tyranny of the many.
Here’s the deal: The government gets its power from the people. But, the majority is its biggest enabler. The Founders knew this, and dedicated their brilliance to designing a government that would counteract the evils of majoritarian rule. In Federalist No. 10, James Madison said this:
“Complaints are everywhere heard… that the public good is disregarded in the conflicts of rival parties, and that measures are too often decided, not according to the rules of justice and the rights of the minor party, but by the superior force of an interested and overbearing majority.”
Why shouldn’t the majority always get what they want? Well, there are a ton of reasons; but, in the interest of brevity, we’ll stick with two. First, the minority matters. Remember in high school when all the “cool” kids sat at that long table in the center of the lunchroom, and the “nerds” were over at the small table in the corner? If the lunchroom was a polity, how often do you think the “cool” table would ever vote with the interests of the “nerd” table in mind? Exactly. Second, what may sound like a good idea in the heat of the moment may not actually be one after you’ve cooled off. In fact, shortly after the Senate’s gun control vote, polls showed that public support for a new gun control bill had dropped to 49%. In other words, the public’s post-Sandy Hook outrage dissipated, and by the time the Senate got around to voting, that 90% that everyone kept talking about was no longer.
The point is that our Constitution was built to protect individual rights from whatever democratic majority may come about at a given time. The fact that 90% of the public may support a particular piece of legislation at a given point in time doesn’t mean that it’s a good idea, or that the 10% should be forced to yield the wishes of the greater number.
Some people on the left called the Republican filibuster of the gun control bills “shameful.” For me, it was a welcome reminder that the most beautiful document sitting in the National Archives – our Constitution – still works.
Your paper states atmospheric carbon dioxide has reached 400 parts per million, a level that “has not been this high for at least 3 million years.” But 90,000 (!) measurements of atmospheric carbon dioxide were made between the years 1812 and 1961 and published in 175 technical papers. These measurements were made by top scientists, including two Nobel Prize winners, using techniques that are standard textbook procedures.
Ernst Georg Beck made a monumental compilation of these carbon dioxide measurements and graphed five-year averages, which smooth irregularities and show trends rather than an individual year that might be an anomaly. His work shows an average of 440 ppm carbon dioxide for the years 1820 and 1940.
Furthermore, ice cores show over 400 ppm in 1700 A.D. and 200 A.D., as well as 10,000 years ago. Samples from Camp Century (Greenland) and Byrd Camp (Antarctica) range from 250 to nearly 500 ppm over the last 10,000 years.
There is abundant other evidence that global warming alarmism is false, but you won’t print:
The above is based on sediments from the Sargasso Sea. It shows the earth was much warmer 500 and 900 years ago and that there were even warmer times 500 BC and 1000 BC. All of these times had no factories or automobiles. They also had far smaller human populations, who devoted much less land to agriculture and cut far fewer trees. Note, too, that now we have barely reached the average temperature for the last 3,000 years. The chart also shows the current warming trend began more than 250 years ago, before the Industrial Revolution. It was a natural recovery from the Little Ice Age.
This puts “global warming” (the slight upturn in the lower right) in perspective with the last 4,000 years of temperature in Greenland.
This intriguing chart by J. Oerlemans shows records of 169 glaciers. It shows they have been receding since 1750, with the trend accelerating after about 1820. The electric light bulb and the telephone hadn’t been invented yet. (Thomas Edison wasn’t even born.) The first commercial electric power plant was not built until 1881-82. Henry Ford began assembly line production in 1913, but by then half of the glacier loss from 1800 to 2000 had already occurred. And 70 percent of the glacier shortening occurred before 1940.
Siberia’s Lake Baikal is the world’s deepest lake. It contains more water than all five of North America’s Great Lakes combined. Fed by over 300 rivers and far from the moderating effects of any ocean, it offers a pristine, uninterrupted sedimentary record that permits a highly accurate reconstruction of temperatures over a broad area.
Anson MacKay, author of the study, says: (1) “Warming in the Lake Baikal region commenced before rapid increases in greenhouse gases;” he dates the warming from around 1750 A.D.,, long before industrial development led to the increase of greenhouse gases. (2) The warming trend began from one of the coldest periods in the last 800,000 years. (3) These coldest periods in the past were always followed by sharp, large temperature increases that couldn’t possibly have been caused by human activity. (4) The latest warming is puny compared to the many much warmer periods in the past.
You newspaper never prints any of these scientific facts—but has plenty of room for the latest propaganda about global warming and carbon dioxide.
[First published at American Liberty.]
Heartland Institute Science Director Jay Lehr was interviewed by the “Today Show” on NBC on this morning to talk about the “milestone” of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere hitting 400 parts-per-million (ppm). Dr. Lehr was the “skeptical” voice in what was mostly a story of panic.
As is typical in a story such as this, the non-alarmist side got 9 seconds of air time in a 3-minute segment. Better than nothing, I suppose. Heartland, actually, is flattered that when one of the most important morning news programs in the country needs to find a “skeptic,” it reaches out to us first.
Watch the video below.
The Chronicle of Higher Education tells us the median salary of public university presidents rose 4.7 percent in 2011-12 to more than $440,000 a year. This increase vastly outpaced the rate of inflation, as well as the earnings of the typical worker in the U.S. economy. Perhaps, most relevant for this community, it also surpassed the compensation growth for university professors.
Moreover, the median statistic masks that several presidents earned more than double that amount. Pennsylvania State University’s Graham Spanier, best known for presiding over the worst athletic scandal in collegiate history, topped the list, earning $2,906,721 in total compensation. (He was forced to resign in November 2011 and was indicted in November 2012 on charges related to the Jerry Sandusky sex-abuse scandal.)
Spanier’s package will get the attention. But the outrage should be spread around. University presidents are becoming ever more plutocratic even as the students find it harder and harder to pay for their studies. University leaders claim institutional poverty as they enrich themselves. A perennial leader of the highest-paid list, Gordon Gee of Ohio State University (more than $1.8 million last year), paid $532 for a shower curtain for the presidential mansion.Unclear Standards
There appears to be neither rhyme nor reason for vast differences in presidential pay. David R. Hopkins, the president of Wright State University — an unremarkable commuter school ranked rather poorly in major-magazine rankings — makes far more than the presidents of the much larger, and vastly more prestigious, University of California at Berkeley, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, or the University of Wisconsin.
The four-year graduation rate at Wright State is 18 percent, whereas at Berkeley it is 71 percent. The president of my college (Ohio University), Roderick McDavis, has seen the school’s US News & World Report ranking fall considerably in his tenure of almost nine years. But he made more in 2011-12 than Berkeley’s Robert J. Birgeneau, who stepped down in 2012 after nine years as chancellor of the school ranked first in the US News list of public universities.
My associate Daniel Garrett analyzed the relationship between presidential compensation and academic performance for 145 schools, using the Forbes magazine rankings of best colleges. (Full disclosure: My Center for College Affordability and Productivity compiles those rankings for Forbes.) Adjusting for enrollment differences, no statistically significant relationship was observed between academic quality and presidential pay.
I informally asked five college-educated friends: What criteria should be used in determining college presidential-salary increases? I got five different answers. One said that those most successful in fundraising should be rewarded the most (the argument often used to justify Gordon Gee’s lavish pay and perks). Another friend stressed the postgraduate performance of students. A third’s answer was that it is all about reputation – - if you improve in the U.S. Newsor Forbes rankings, you should get a nice salary increase. Still another friend stressed retention and graduation rates.
In short, there is no consensus. Among competitive free-enterprise companies, profits, share price and competitor chief-executive-officer pay are considered the metrics upon which compensation decisions should be largely determined. But what is the bottom line in higher education? Did the University of Virginia have a good year in 2012? How would you know?Lacking Comparisons
We know little about some fundamental questions. Are the students at the University of Colorado learning more than those at the University of Kansas? Are they learning more now than five or 10 years ago? These and other schools are either clueless as to the answer, or if somewhat knowledgeable, they typically keep the findings a secret. Public comparison with peer schools is considered bad form by the university presidents I know. Trustees are usually part-time cheerleaders for the institution, not hard-nosed representatives of the public demanding accountability, efficiency and transparency.
University enrollments fell in the closing academic year nationally for the first time in more than a decade. More and more individuals are questioning the value of American higher education as it now exists — the benefits seem to be stagnating, while the costs are rising.
Some new university leaders get this, and believe higher education needs to be leaner, more adaptive to change and include performance-based rewards for achievement. The best example is Mitch Daniels, the president of Purdue University. While still governor of Indiana, Daniels chatted with me about how to devise a presidential contract that tied compensation to achievement of goals. The Purdue board adopted such a system, cutting Daniels’s pay compared with his predecessor’s, yet including provisions allowing the president to earn significant performance bonuses. Daniels has already frozen tuition fees for two years — and also has frozen salaries for most administrators.
Universities are nonprofit institutions that get special privileges, such as government subsidies and tax exemptions, based on the assumption that they are good stewards of the public trust. Big corporations pay their leaders more, but those institutions pay taxes that partially benefit universities. They have a bottom line as well as stockholders and corporate boards that often fire leaders who perform poorly.
University presidents aren’t corporate executives. If higher education wishes to maintain its privileged position in American society, it needs to contain its spending. A good place to start is at the top.
[First Published by Bloomberg L.P.]
San Jose State University faculty recently decided the best way to address scientific criticisms of alarmist global warming theory was to burn the books containing such criticisms. Pierre Gosselin, administrator of the No Tricks Zone website, pointed out disturbing parallels between the book burning at San Jose State and book burnings in Nazi Germany.
Last week marked the 80th anniversary of a massive book burning event in Nazi Germany. The book burning, conducted by people affiliated with German universities, was designed to purge what the book-burners called un-German literature.
“Literary and philosophical works that did not conform to the ideological standards of the Nationalist Socialist Party were collected from prestigious university libraries and burned in public. They included some of the greatest works ever written. Much of the burning was zealously carried out by students and academics,” Gosselin explained.
After noting the recent book-burning at San Jose State, Gosselin observed, “Recently a University of Graz professor called for the execution of climate science skeptics. Aren’t the parallels eerie? This ought lead us to pause and reflect deeply for a moment.”
On Friday, senior IRS official Lois Lerner offered an apology of sorts after nonprofit organizations that were applying for tax-exempt status were targeted for IRS audit if the groups’ names included “Tea Party” or “patriots.” Lerner said she had learned of this activity only last year.
Few places seem less likely to find humor than a New York Times article about rogue IRS agents, but this line from Friday’s article was laugh-out-loud funny: “[Lerner] insisted that the move was not driven by politics.” Nearly as ridiculous was Lerner’s assertion that the behavior was little more than the activity of overzealous low-level employees and that more senior IRS officials were unaware of the “absolutely inappropriate” behavior.
Lerner did herself no further favors during a subsequent conference call with reporters in which she couldn’t calculate one quarter of 300, saying “I’m not good at math.” Then she and her staff complained about “repetitive” questions, prompting liberal Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter David Cay Johnston to say, according to a Washington Post report (entitled “The IRS’ public relations disaster”), that “it was because they weren’t answering the questions.”
One wonders whether anybody, even New York Times readers, believed that the actions were only those of low-level IRS employees in Cincinnati. If so, they couldn’t believe it for long: Barely 24 hours later, the Associated Press revealed that a draft of an IRS inspector general’s report shows, contrary to lying Lerner’s assertions that the Tea Party-targeting was confined to 2012, that senior IRS officials including Lerner learned of the targeting no later than June 29, 2011.
While the report says that Lerner ordered an immediate “change” regarding how groups would be flagged for audit, that should not be read as an immediate “stop” to political targeting. According to the AP story, “On Jan, 25, 2012, the criteria for flagging suspect groups was changed to, ‘political action type organizations involved in limiting/expanding Government, educating on the Constitution and Bill of Rights, social economic reform/movement,’ the report says.”
USA Today adds that extra scrutiny was given to groups that “had a goal of educating the public via advocacy or lobbying to ‘make America a better place to live’” or that had “any statements in the case file critical of how the country is being run.”
Part of the targeting of Tea Party groups included requesting donor lists, a clear threat to anyone willing to contribute money to anti-Obama or simply pro-limited government organizations.
It is unclear how far up the IRS food chain this rot goes, though it probably did not reach the very top since the IRS commissioner at the time, Douglas Shulman, was an appointee of George W. Bush. In March 2012, Shulman testified before Congress that “there’s absolutely no targeting.” Unlike lying Lerner, it is more likely that Shulman was simply kept in the dark by pro-Obama officials in his organization.
Still, whether or not Shulman knew, the fact remains that even the liberal media, including even MSNBC and CBS News, recognize how damning it is for the IG’s report to implicate “senior Internal Revenue Service Officials” in using one of the most feared government agencies to target organizations due to the political views of those groups’ members.
Apologists suggest that the IRS’s “shortcuts” were an effort to prevent tax-exempt status for “sham” groups which either wanted to misuse the tax code or keep their donor lists secret.
This is the United States of Alinsky in its full glory.
The IRS’s actions are something one would expect in Venezuela or Cuba, where the central government considers it a proper function to kneecap any opposition.
The left is not trying to hide from a story they know they can’t hide from. The ACLU is condemning the IRS, with the chief of staff at their Washington Legislative Office saying, “Even the appearance of playing partisan politics with the tax code is about as constitutionally troubling as it gets.” And Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein (CA) said on NBC television on Sunday that “I think we have to understand why” the IRS “would give extra scrutiny” to conservative groups. Not exactly righteous indignation, but not the stonewalling we’ve come to expect from Democrats when it comes to Obama administration failures.
Jenny Beth Martin of the Tea Party Patriots (cruising for double-extra IRS scrutiny with that organization name) put it succinctly: “The IRS lied.” The group’s website says, “We reject a simple apology that does nothing to alleviate the danger of this happening again. Only immediate and public actions on the part of the IRS and the president will suffice.”
They are exactly right. In her first “apology,” Lois Lerner said that the IRS agents who took part in this behavior — which likely cross from the unethical into the criminal — have received no punishment or disciplinary action.
Furthermore, according to the Post story, “Lerner said she disclosed the information because someone asked her about it Friday morning — indicating that she had no plans to release the information publicly, despite the confirmed wrongdoing. When asked how they found out about the wrongdoing, Lerner said the investigation stemmed from media reports about conservative groups claiming that they were targeted, not from any internal review.”
It is frightening that the most powerful domestic arm of the federal government has become an untrustworthy pawn of Obama administration partisanship. One need not expect White House involvement to see the danger to civil society when high-ranking bureaucrats think that targeting citizens based on political views would be approved of and desired by their superiors. The erosion of the last shreds of governmental ethics bodes ill for our Republic, especially if not harshly punished.
IRS employees involved in this scandal should be fired and charged with crimes — but only after giving as many low-level agents as possible the chance to earn immunity (but not to keep their jobs) if they turn state’s evidence against their bosses. With an Obama Justice Department run by people too unconcerned with the rule of law to get jobs in Venezuela or Cuba, such prosecutions are unlikely.
Liberal media outlets, anxious to avoid reporting anything which would reflect badly on the Obama administration, were hungry for a story they could cover instead of Benghazi. Unfortunately for them, this story may even be worse for the Obama administration and for Democrats more broadly — and the details are so understandable to the ordinary citizen that even the most left-leaning outlets have been compelled to cover it.
The Obama administration has stunk of incompetence, corruption, and hyper-partisanship throughout its feckless reign. It is not surprising to see officials of the Obama IRS targeting the president’s political opponents; after all, absolutely everything is viewed through the most political lens by the Obama crew, from the top down. And sadly, it is not surprising that it took this long for the slightly-weakening-in-their-Obama-fealty media to turn up the story.
But better late than never.
Despite the fact that the Benghazi cover-up and the IRS targeting of Tea Party groups seem to have nothing in common, they are about to have one critical similarity: desperation by the administration to insulate the highest levels of the Obama administration, whether former Secretary of State Hillary “What difference does Benghazi make?” Clinton, former Treasury Secretary Tim “TurboTax” Geithner, or President Barack “I must have been golfing when this happened” Obama himself.
How far up the ladder will the story climb? Will it reach a cabinet secretary? That’s not as likely as with the Benghazi cover-up. TheWall Street Journal reports that “a government official said the report will note that IRS officials told investigators that no one outside the IRS was involved in developing the criteria the agency now acknowledges were flawed.”
But the fact that the notoriously uninterested-in-foreign-policy public now has credible news of the federal government using the hated tax man to target Americans for their political beliefs may, even without implicating those at the highest levels of the administration, have a substantial political impact.
The petty tyrants at the IRS have added to the distrust, even dislike, of government by many Americans — not just committed conservatives or Tea Party activists. It will make every attempt to increase the size and intrusiveness of government — including the implementation of Obamacare which requires many thousands of regulatory “trust me’s” and a large role for the IRS — much harder to sell. And it will equally make those politicians who support such programs more difficult to sell to a skeptical electorate.
One legislative canary in the coalmine is the horrendous “campaign finance” measure known as the Follow the Money Act, co-sponsored by Senators Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Lisa Murkowski (RINO-AK), which would require onerous registration and reporting requirements for any group spending or receiving over $10,000 in “independent federal election related activity” during an election cycle. As the Center for Competitive Politics puts it, “If enacted, this bill would dragoon the IRS into a role as political campaign enforcer, a role the IRS is ill-equipped for and does not want.”
One measure of the impact of the IRS’s current “public relations disaster” will be seen (or, more precisely, not seen) if this latest “protect the (liberal) incumbents” bill does not come up for a vote in the U.S. Senate.
We are in the early days of this scandal; we have more questions than answers. Watching Jay Carney twist in the wind trying to insulate his boss will make for satisfying viewing for many Tea Party activists. But much more must be done. In the short-term, expect a tsunami of complaints and lawsuits to be filed by aggrieved conservative (and pro-Israel) groups, and others who were unfairly targeted by the IRS.
In the longer-term, expect those very targets to use these events as Exhibit A in their arguments against expanding the size and power of our federal Leviathan.
[First Published at The American Spectator]
Late last week we learned that the Barack Obama Administration’s Internal Revenue Service (IRS) was subjecting conservative non-profit organizations to ridiculous levels of additional, extra-legal scrutiny.
The Administration’s immediate, reflex response was to lie about it.
The IRS apologized Friday for what it acknowledged was “inappropriate” targeting of conservative political groups during the 2012 election to see if they were violating their tax-exempt status. The agency blamed low-level employees, saying no high-level officials were aware.
Except just “targeting” – may not be true.
Except just “during the 2012 election” and just “low-level employees” – isn’t true.
Did the Administration tell the truth back then? Not so much.
In (then-IRS Commissioner Douglas) Shulman’s responses, he did not acknowledge targeting of tea party groups. At a congressional hearing March 22, 2012, Shulman was adamant in his denials.
“There’s absolutely no targeting. This is the kind of back and forth that happens to people” who apply for tax-exempt status, Shulman said at the House Ways and Means subcommittee hearing.
These sorts of things are why my late, great Grandfather called the IRS “The Assassins” – and wouldn’t let you call them anything else.
This is one fundamental part of why we who want less government want less government – the less government there is, the less there is to be used against us.
The IRS is one of the most powerful agencies in the federal government, with fearsome powers that the Department of Homeland Security can only dream of having. (Does DHS subject Americans to mandatory annual questioning about their personal lives, family arrangements, finances, business practices, travel, etc.?)
It has a history of being used as a tool of political retaliation, not only by the Nixon administration but at least as far back as Franklin D. Roosevelt. An agency with that kind of power, with access to sensitive information on every individual, business, church, charity, and school in the country, must conduct itself according to the very highest standards. The IRS does not.
So this is great news:
All of which casts a sinister pall on this:
The better for Big Government to eat you with, my Dears. And will the Leviathan contain its overreach to the IRS? Of course not.
Because Congress in many areas hasn’t yet addressed the gaping hole of protecting our data from Big Government, we are left exposed and subject to hay-yuge, illegal power grabs.
Like President Barack Obama’s illegal Network Neutrality order. Which gives the government access to the Internet’s spine – and with it every website there is and all the data contained therein….
Like President Barack Obama’s illegal Cyber Security Executive Order. The amount of data compiled in Cyber Security execution is massive – and Big Government wants at it:
Part of the reason lawmakers have not passed even voluntary cyber reforms is that businesses and many Republicans fear optional measures eventually could become mandatory.
The executive order did not allay those fears… (T)he Republican head of the House Homeland Security Committee expressed misgivings about the policy’s potential for mission creep.
Another “good start” towards ever growing Big Government grabs.
A privacy section in the documents outlines steps agencies must take to protect personal information while carrying out these activities. When private sector information is collected and shared with the government, concerns often arise that customer information will be exposed or abused.
Like the Obama Administration shutting down bailed out car company dealerships based upon campaign contribution data. Like local governments in New York turning over for publication gun registration data. Like then-President and First Lady Bill and Hillary Clinton’s illegally obtained 900 FBI files getting him out of an impeachment conviction.
And now the IRS’ panoply of assaults.
And does anyone seriously think that all of this is all there is?
Oh – and when the Leviathan isn’t taking our information, it’s using our coin to purchase it:
You want reform? Reduce the size, scope and sphere of influence of government – and they won’t have the juice to do most of these sorts of things.
[First published at PJ Media.]
The public relations campaign to support Medicaid expansion frequently uses testimony by patients with serious medical conditions who have lost their private insurance. It is assumed that once they qualify for Medicaid, they will easily get their chemotherapy, hepatitis c treatment, or defibrillator battery replacement.
“The messages talk only about coverage, not care,” states Jane Orient, M.D., executive director of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS). “But the real question is whether Medicaid provides access to care.”
An internet survey of AAPS members shows that about 47% of respondents think that it is more difficult for a Medicaid patient, compared with an uninsured patient, to get an appointment with a primary-care physician. Only 26% thought that the uninsured had more difficulty. For specialist appointments, 44% thought uninsured patients were better off, and 32% thought Medicaid patients were better off. Only 2% thought that Medicaid patients had “no problem” getting an appointment with a specialist.
When asked, “How easy is it for a Medicaid beneficiary to obtain drugs, medical equipment, or diagnostic tests?”, 48% said it could be “extremely difficult,” 27% said “moderately difficult at times,” and only 13% said it was “no problem.”
Of 166 respondents, 96 were physician specialists, 63 primary physicians, and 7 emergency physicians.
Open-ended comments were overwhelmingly negative about Medicaid. Rural patients who are unable to drive or travel may have no access to care at all except through charity. Some areas have no hand surgeons, endocrinologists, dentists, or rheumatologists who will accept Medicaid. Many cardiology tests, even echocardiograms on inpatients, are questioned or denied. Many drugs, even common generics, are unavailable without jumping through bureaucratic hoops. Treatment for chronic pain is especially difficult. It may be very challenging to get non-emergency surgery approved, no matter how necessary.
“Medicaid ends up as a jobs program for administrators and quasi-medical professionals,” writes one physician. “Very little of Medicaid money actually goes to the ‘health care’ part of the equation.” Another said that “poor customer service is the norm” and “excessive paperwork is routine.”
Because it may cost more to file a claim than a physician can hope to collect, physicians may lose on every Medicaid patient, and lose less if they just see the patients for free.
Stating that “denials were much more common than approvals for appropriate treatment options and diagnostic studies,” one physician concluded that “to expand such a horrendous program is insane.”
AAPS, which was founded in 1943, is a national organization representing physicians in all specialties.
[First published at the blog of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons.]
The CTIA just released its semi-annual statistics on the wireless industry’s performance, and its bad news for all those supposed data-driven, pro-regulation proponents who are in search of evidence or data to justify regulating wireless or wireless spectrum holdings.
The data are more powerful evidence of a competitive wireless industry. Hopefully, this data will nudge the FCC to begrudgingly conclude that the industry is indeed competitive, despite their blinders to the data.
Briefly, the U.S. wireless industry:
- Grew five-times faster than the U.S. economy — ~9% to ~1.8% in 2012;
- Invested $17.2b in capital investment in the last half of 2012 up 37% from the year before period;
- Showed real competitive losses to free broadband messaging, as paid SMS text messages were down 4.9% annually in 2012, down 7.1% for last six months of 2012, and 11.3% for the last month of 2012 (Competition works!);
- The amount of data usage increased 69.3% in 2012; and
- The number of smart phones in use grew 36.4% in 2012.
These are data of a vibrantly competitive and innovative industry, not one in need of preemptive net neutrality or spectrum cap regulation.
[First published at The Precursor Blog]
Host Jim Lakely interviews Steve Stanek, managing editor of Budget & Tax News and John Nothdurft, Director of Government Relations at The Heartland Institute, about the recent passage in the U.S. Senate of the Marketplace Fairness Act.
If the bill passes the House and is signed by President Obama, it would give states a vast new power over retailers outside their borders, including the imposition of auditing requirements. States would be allowed to create their own unique definitions of how and when items are taxed, increasing confusion for out-of-state sellers.
Jim, Steve and John discuss all those factors, and more, and look ahead to the prospects of the bill reaching the desk of President Obama. Read more coverage on this blog of the Marketplace Fairness Act here.[Subscribe to the Heartland Daily Podcast free at this link.]
Roy Spencer is a climate scientist at the University of Alabama-Huntsville who may be the world’s most important scientist. He has discovered scientific insights and theories that cast great doubt on global warming doctrine. That doctrine has always been dubious and is often defended by attacking the integrity of anyone who dares to raise questions. Spencer is a rare combination of a brilliant scientist and a brave soul willing to risk his livelihood and reputation by speaking plainly.
The global warming promoters say we must scrap the world’s energy infrastructure in favor of green energy. They say that burning coal, oil and natural gas adds carbon dioxide to the atmosphere and that will cause a global warming disaster. The global warming believers demand a massive investment in uneconomic windmills and solar energy. Their demands are not exactly sincere, because their program is a utopian fantasy that will never be implemented on the scale needed to achieve the ostensible objectives.
The coalition of environmentalists, scientists and politicians who are the promoters of global warming inadvertently reveal their insincerity by the specifics of their programs. The much idolized Kyoto Protocol and associated Clean Development Mechanism, lets the giant emitters of carbon dioxide, China and India, off scot free for the simple reason that they would never agree to destroy the future of their countries by giving up fossil fuels. No CO2 emissions credit is allowed for CO2-free nuclear power because it would embarrass the environmental groups that spent decades denouncing nuclear power.
The scientific backing for the global warming scare comes from climate science. Climate science is a weak science. The atmosphere is chaotic and difficult to define with scientific theories. Attempts to predict the future of the climate and to quantify the effects of carbon dioxide are speculative and influenced by ideological biases of the various scientists. In climate science there are strong elements attempting to enforce uniformity of opinion. Scientists that depart from the prevailing climate political correctness are sanctioned.
Monster computer programs, called climate models, are supposed to mimic the Earth’s climate. The computer models do a poor job of mimicking the climate. One proof of this is that the 20 or so models from different science groups disagree considerably with each other about the amount of warming that will be caused by adding CO2 to the atmosphere. But, these inadequate computer models are the basis for the predictions of global warming doom. The emotional and financial investment in computer models is so great that their creators have lost objectivity concerning their creations. The computer models are the spoiled children of climate science.
Roy Spencer is not a shrinking violet. Spencer vigorously promotes his ideas. If he didn’t, the global warming establishment would happily ignore him and his ideas would be nothing more than a ripple in the climate science ocean. He issues press releases. He appears on television and radio. He is Rush Limbaugh’s “official” climate scientist. Spencer has written three popular books on climate science as well as a small book on the principles of free market economics. None of this endears him to his more modest and more politically correct colleagues.
The climate science establishment is irritated that Spencer has come up with highly creative discoveries that the establishment did not think of first. They don’t like it that he openly contradicts climate celebrities like Al Gore and James Hansen. If that were not enough irritation, Spencer is a Bible-following Christian, as is his boss at the university, John Christy. Christy, an ordained minister, was a missionary in Africa before becoming a scientist. Obviously Christy and Spencer are not the only scientists who are serious Christians, but they don’t seem to care if everyone knows it.
I don’t claim and never would claim that the climate establishment is a conspiracy of scientists to create false science to promote their own careers, even though it may appear that way at times, and even though some of the biggest doomsday promoters have had the greatest career success. The advocates of global warming do believe what they say. But, sincerity is not a substitute for critical thinking or common sense.
How the climate establishment turns the output of the disagreeing computer models into predictions of climate doomsday is obscurantist alchemy. They take the average prediction of the models as the most probable future and assume that the truth likely is somewhere within the range of predictions exhibited by the various models. None of this is more than rank speculation, scientifically. The climate science establishment is less than open with the public concerning the shortcomings of their approach to climate forecasting. At times the public presentations of climate science descend into outrageous advocacy. If you press the scientist-promoters of global warming they will say their methods are the best they can do given what they have. For public consumption computer alchemy is turned into solid science by the operation of the publicity machine and the United Nations’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
Even though Spencer is a bit of an outlaw, he is still a climate scientist in more or less good standing. Like cops, Marines, or members of fraternities, once you’re a climate scientist, you’re one for life, contingent on reasonably good scientific behavior. Remember that climate scientists go through a lengthy acculturation as graduate students, postdocs and junior scientists. His fellow climate scientists may diss him in writing but there remains a line they won’t cross. For example, Christy and Spencer still have their government research grants. At a climate science dinner that I attended, I noticed that the scientists were very protective of Judith Curry, an accomplished climate scientist who, like Spencer, has gone over to the dark side and become openly skeptical about the doomsday claims. I attribute this to the fellowship among climate scientists that is stronger than scientific or ideological differences.
Like the climate, group opinion among climate scientists is chaotic, meaning that the potential exists for a sudden transformation, perhaps an ideological ice age or a psychological warming. Spencer, Christy, Curry and the many other skeptic scientists are outliers, but if a tipping point is reached, climate science might undergo a rapid change of collective opinion. This could leave the civilian camp followers and the manufacturers of windmills dangling in the wind.
The pressure that is building on climate doctrine is the failure of the Earth to warm, a trend that has now continued for 16 years. The longer warming is stalled, in the face of constantly increasing CO2, the harder it becomes for the believers to continue believing. Compounding the failure of the Earth to warm is the failure of the oceans to warm for the last 10 years. Normally, failure of the Earth to warm would be explained by saying that the ocean is sucking up the energy flux that would cause the atmosphere to warm. But if the ocean is not warming either, that explanation won’t work. (Some persistent believers in ocean warming are now searching for the missing warmth in the deep ocean, a part of the ocean that is largely beyond the vision of most monitoring systems.)
Roy Spencer at some point had an epiphany that resulted in new insights. The central question about global warming, that climate science tries to answer, is what is climate sensitivity. Climate sensitivity is formally a number that describes the amount of warming or cooling the Earth experiences in response to a change in the energy flow. Various things can change the energy flow, including adding CO2 to the atmosphere.
If scientists were gods and able to control the energy output of the sun, climate sensitivity could be measured via an experiment. On the average the energy flow on to the Earth from the sun is about 240 watts per square meter. The outward flow of energy, on the average, is the same, resulting in a stable, average Earth temperature of about 14 degrees Celsius or 57 degrees Fahrenheit. If energy flow could be throttled up, to say 244 watts per square meter, and we observed the resulting change in the Earth’s temperature, this experiment would get us the climate sensitivity. According to the climate establishment increasing the energy flow by 4 watts per square meter would cause the earth to warm, averaged over the seasons and different locations, by about 3.25 degrees Celsius. The climate sensitivity is expressed by the ratio (3.25 degrees/ 4 watts per square meter) = 0.81 degrees per watt per square meter. A climate sensitivity of 0.81 represents a very sensitive climate. If the climate is very sensitive, then adding CO2 to the atmosphere could be a problem.
Given the establishment’s belief in a highly sensitive climate, doubling CO2 in the atmosphere should increase the average temperature of the Earth by 3 degrees Celsius. Adding CO2 to the atmosphere effectively changes the net energy flow from the sun because CO2 inhibits the outward escape of energy via long wave radiation.
Scientists are not gods, no matter what they may think, so they can’t change the energy output of the sun for an experiment. But they do have computer models that supposedly mimic the Earth’s climate and they can use the computer models to perform experiments that are impossible to perform on the actual Earth. Using the admittedly poor models and glossing over the fact that the models disagree with each other, the establishment claims that the Earth has a very delicately balanced climate that will be disrupted by CO2 emissions. You would think that at this point they would demand that we switch to a CO2-free nuclear economy. But the establishment gives away its ideological bias by demanding that we switch instead to a windmill and solar panel economy.
Roy Spencer’s science specialty is the measurement of the Earth’s temperature by satellites. Spencer and Christy keep track of changes in the Earth’s temperature by analyzing data from certain satellites that measure microwave radiation that originates in oxygen molecules. There are other satellite-based instruments that measure the energy flows into and out of the Earth via long and short wave radiation – heat radiation and sunlight.
Due to random fluctuations from changes in weather, clouds and temperature, the average temperature of the Earth and the energy flows into and out of the Earth wander by a small amount over months. Spencer constructed what are called phase space graph that show this random wandering. An example is below.
This graph is constructed by placing a dot for each day, the dot placed at a point on the graph that represents the average radiation flux and the average temperature over 91 days. These quantities are measured by satellites looking at the Earth. As the radiation or energy flux and the temperature wander the trail of dots traces a path. Rather than being a completely random path, it is evident that there is a suggestion of structure. At times the trail of dots traces a diagonal line. Spencer called these diagonal lines striations.
Spencer discovered convincing evidence that the slope of these striations is a measure of climate sensitivity. In the graph above the diagonal lines follow the striations and indicate that the Earth’s climate sensitivity is about 0.11, or about 7 times less than the 0.81 that the establishment claims. The convincing evidence is that Spencer created simple simulations of climate, with known climate sensitivity, and used data from the simulations to create phase space plots. The climate sensitivity measured from the plot agreed with the known climate sensitivity built into the simulation. Spencer then made phase space plots using data from the establishment’s monster climate models, and found, at least for some models, that the same relation held. Let’s not claim that Spencer discovered a law of nature comparable to the general theory of relativity, but he has made a genuine discovery of considerable originality.
In a blog posting, modestly titled “Has the Climate Sensitivity Holy Grail Been Found,” Spencer described his discovery of the striations as follows:
“These linear striations in the data were an accidental finding of mine. I was computing these averages in an Excel spreadsheet that had daily averages in it, so the easiest way for me to make 3-monthly (91 day) averages was to simply compute a new average centered on each day in the 6-year data record.”
Spencer depicts his discovery as a flash of insight, like Fleming’s discovery of penicillin, where he noticed that mold accidentally introduced into a petri dish was killing bacteria. Spencer’s description of his discovery makes a memorable story. This is the type of story that is too good to check, but I decided to check it anyway. In the hallway at a scientific meeting between presentations I asked Christy about this. The expression on his face told me more than anything he said. Spencer’s discovery wasn’t that easy.
Other scientists have tried to use the satellite data to measure climate sensitivity. Often they came up with obvious overestimates. For example, in the phase space plot above there is a near horizontal line that is a simple fit to the cloud of dots. The slope of that line corresponds to a climate sensitivity of 1.6, an implausibly extreme climate sensitivity. Richard Lindzen of MIT has also devised similar methods of estimating climate sensitivity from measured data. Stephen Schwartz, a government scientist at the Brookhaven National Lab, has investigated climate sensitivity with approaches similar to Spencer.
The small wandering changes in the energy balance come from random changes in clouds as well as an assumed feedback from temperature changes that affect clouds, water vapor and outgoing radiation. Temperature changes, in turn, come from changes in energy flow as well as other causes such as energy exchanges with the oceans. It is this tangling up of cause and effect that make it difficult to deduce climate sensitivity from the noise in the system that causes the small deviations in the energy balance in the atmosphere. Spencer’s work essentially revolves around understanding and untangling these effects.
Spencer and his co-author William Braswell published their ideas in a peer reviewed scientific paper that appeared in the Journal of Geophysical Research in August of 2010. The road to publication was long and tortuous and some of his claims had to be watered down to get past the reviewers. It might be that the reviewers were hostile to Spencer because he was upsetting the global warming apple cart or perhaps they thought that Spencer’s claims were too broad for the evidence he had. In any case scientists habitually complain about reviewers of their papers. A clear case of establishment bias against Spencer’s ideas would come later.
In July 2011, Spencer published another paper in a fairly obscure European journal Remote Sensing. This paper incited an unusual angry outburst from important elements of the climate establishment. It’s a bit difficult to know why they were so angry. The paper is an extension of Spencer’s previous work and answers some of the criticism of his 2010 paper. Remote Sensing offers rapid peer review and publication, no doubt an attractive feature for Spencer, previously subjected to long delays and false starts from trying to publish in more traditional climate science venues. The establishment anger may have been triggered because the establishment probably didn’t know about the article until it was published and secondly because the article highlighted faults in the establishment’s climate models by comparing model output to satellite observations of the Earth. Spencer’s paper made the models look pretty bad. Spencer’s article received huge publicity due to a Forbes column by Heartland Institute fellow James Taylor. This surely added to the upset of climate establishment grandees.
A remarkable, no holds barred attack was made on Spencer on the website The Daily Climate. The Daily Climate article contained statements such as this:
“Over the years, Spencer and Christy developed a reputation for making serial mistakes that other scientists have been forced to ncover.”
This is not the sort of things that scientists say about each other, at least not in print. Besides it was a complete lie, because Christy and Spencer are known to be very competent and careful scientists. More interesting than what was said, is who said it. Kevin Trenberth was the first author. The two other authors were John Abraham and Peter Gleick. All three of these scientists are aggressive defenders of global warming catastrophe theory.
Let’s take Kevin Trenberth first. By general acclaim, Trenberth is one of the smartest climate scientists alive. Trenberth is a Distinguished Senior Scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado. Ironically, Trenberth is a strong critic of climate models, for example here and here, yet he defends the alarmist predictions that are rooted in climate models.
John Abraham is a professor of mechanical engineering. He is one of the leaders of the Climate Science Rapid Response Team. This is a group set up to rapidly refute criticism of global warming alarmism. Activists became alarmed that the global warming skeptics were getting a foothold and the activists decided that the problem was that the media wasn’t getting good information in a timely manner. Thus the rapid response team is a counter propaganda outfit. The problem is that if people are starting to doubt what you say, screaming louder may not solve the problem.
Peter Gleick, the third author of the attack on Spencer, is a water scientist and a self proclaimed climate scientist. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the recipient of a MacArthur Foundation genius award. He is also a criminal, albeit one that avoided prosecution due to good political associations. Approximately six months after the Daily Climate blast at Spencer, Gleick impersonated a board member of the Heartland Institute, a libertarian Chicago think tank with global warming skeptic tendencies. Perhaps believing his own propaganda, he thought that if he could get the confidential packet of documents distributed at the Heartland board meeting, he could prove that Heartland had a nefarious agenda funded by the fossil fuel industry. When that confidential information turned out not to be incriminating, he forged additional documents designed to discredit the Heartland Institute. (He claimed the forged documents were sent to him anonymously in the mail.) He “leaked” everything to the global warming advocacy blogosphere. But Gleick was an amateur criminal and was quickly exposed. One of his mistakes was to feature himself in the forged documents, making it appear that Peter Gleick was a person of great concern to the Heartland Institute. Gleick used a fake email account to execute his crime. He clearly violated the federal wire fraud statue (18 USC 1343). Gleick’s lies were widely disseminated and greatly damaged the Heartland Institute. In spite of strenuous requests by the victim Heartland Institute, the administration’s U.S. Attorney in Chicago has refused, so far, to prosecute. Gleick was quickly rehabilitated, returned to his position as the president of the Pacific Institute and given the honor of an invited talk at the 2012 Fall Meeting of the American Geophysical Union. Maybe the MacArthur Foundation will give him another genius award for escaping prosecution and professional shame.
The pushback to Spencer’s Remote Sensing paper became more bizarre when the editor of Remote Sensing, Wolfgang Wagner, resigned and apologized to Kevin Trenberth for publishing Spencer’s paper. In his letter of resignation Wagner made it clear that there was no impropriety in the publishing of the paper. Peer review was properly conducted by qualified reviewers. Why would an Austrian professor and the editor of a journal published in Switzerland apologize, for not doing anything wrong, to a government scientist in Colorado? Obviously because the establishment was displeased by the paper and the implied criticism of the establishment. Apparently the influence of the climate establishment is powerful and world wide. If they say jump, scientists everywhere say how high. Presumably the apology was directed to Trenberth acting in his capacity as a leader of the climate establishment.
Steve McIntyre, a prominent skeptical scientist and blogger said this:
“Like most of us, I’ve been a bit taken aback by the ritual seppuku of young academic Wolfgang Wagner, formerly editor of Remote Sensing, for the temerity of casting a shadow across the path of climate capo Kevin Trenberth. It appears that Wagner’s self immolation has only partly appeased Trenberth, who, like an Oriental despot, remains unamused.”
Besides the slander and power plays against Spencer described above, the establishment also commissioned a scientific paper to debunk Spencer’s work. The scientist chosen to do this was Andrew Dessler, a professor in the atmospheric sciences department at Texas A & M university.
Texas A&M has a large atmospheric sciences department. On their website there are 22 tenured and tenure track faculty. What is really unusual about the department is that all the regular faculty are seemingly required to sign a global warming loyalty oath called the climate change statement. Every faculty member except one new arrival has signed. None of the lowly adjunct faculty’s names appear.
The Texas A&M atmospheric sciences department is part of the College of Geosciences. That college also houses the department of Geology and Geophysics that operates practically as a satellite of the Texas energy industry. Texas A&M has a large endowment, heavily invested in energy industries, and of course, the revenue of the state of Texas is heavily dependent on carbon burning energy industries. There are strange bedfellows in the Texas A&M College of Geosciences.
Andrew Dessler wrote his paper attacking Spencer’s paper. It zoomed through peer review in 19 days, a remarkable speed record. It was published in Geophysical Research Letters, a favored journal of the global warming establishment.
It probably didn’t matter what Dessler’s paper said or how objective it was. All that really mattered is that the climate establishment could say to the world of media and politics that Roy Spencer had been refuted. Spencer had a response on his website within 24 hours of receiving a preprint of the paper. One problem for the establishment is that Dessler is prone to go a bit wobbly and lose focus as to the main task. The main task is making skeptics like Roy Spencer look like incompetent idiots. Dessler entered into a dialog with Spencer and accepted suggestions from Spencer to correct errors and otherwise improve the paper attacking Spencer himself. Spencer felt this was a great step forward from establishment figures ignoring him or taking potshots from afar.
The global warming scientific establishment is starting to look like the final days of the Soviet Union. On the surface it appears impregnable and the dissidents are a minor problem. But the huge soviet edifice quickly collapsed when people lost their fear of the system and the functionaries stopped following orders. There came a point when everyone decided to stop living a lie. I can’t believe, for example, that every faculty member at Texas A&M is really happy about signing a climate loyalty oath.
The lie the scientist believers in global warming are living is that the climate models reliably mimic the Earth’s climate and are suitable for predicting the future. Roy Spencer has developed a theory to compute climate sensitivity, using real data, data that does not invoke the monster climate models. His theories may or may not stand the test of time, but the climate establishment should stop acting like a science mafia protecting its turf. New ideas should be allowed to circulate freely, not be strangled at birth.
[First published at The American Thinker]
The cover of the May 2 issue of Nature promises a feature story on “GMOs. The promise. The reality.” Inside is a series of articles about genetically modified organisms (GMOs).
This is interesting because the editors have to be pro-GMO because so many of the journal’s readers (If not the editorial writers) are real scientists, and science overwhelmingly documents the safety and benefits of GMOs. But the editors (as I’ve pointed out in past posts here, here, and here) are left-liberals who parrot the environmental movement’s messaging on most issues. So what to do?
Here’s how they solved the problem:
- Give the articles ambiguous or misleading titles that hide the fact that they are pro-GMOs: “Tarnished Promise,” “A Hard Look at GM Crops,” “Africa and Asia Need a Rational Debate on GM Crops.”
- Toss around the ugly word “Frankenfoods” without rebuttal and never mention by name any of the prominent defenders of GM crops such as Mischa Popoff, Jay Lehr, and Henry Miller.
- Mention only in passing that many environmental groups are on record opposing GM foods, but never admit that all environmental groups drank the Kool-aid on this issue and have said and continue to say outrageous things plainly contradicted by real science. Quote only one or two of them in the entire series of articles… better to not offend or embarrass your friends by calling them out.
- Be sure to mention that the highly regarded PG Economics’s study is “industry funded” but describe the anti-GMO propaganda-front Center for Science in the Public Interest as “a consumer group in Washington, DC that monitors the regulation of GM Food.” Who funds them? The editors clearly don’t think it matters.
- Report frequently but feign ignorance about the source of public distrust of the biotech and GMO industries. Portray it as a spontaneous uprising of concerned mothers, when it is in fact the result of anti-technology leftists co-opting the organic foods movement and using it to wage an ideologically-driven war on two industries that are saving lives and benefiting the environment. (See Popoff’s excellent Is It Organic? for the full story.)
- Focus on just three issues – herbicide resistance, the spread of transgenes to wild crops, and a weird one, that GM somehow has caused a wave of suicides in India – and ignore or downplay the most important issues in the debate that clearly go in the pro-GM direction, such as consumer safety, yields, and economic and environmental benefits.
- Say, ridiculously for a science journal, that “the truth is somewhere in the middle” (p. 26). No, it’s overwhelmingly on the side of GM crops and against environmental extremists on all the issues that matter. GMO’s supporters, many of whom are relentlessly demonized by the environmentalists Nature fails to identify, have been vindicated, while its critics have paid no price at all for their lies and exaggeration, despite having slowed the adoption of new technologies that could have saved many lives.
But alas, Nature just can’t bring itself to say any of that.
U.S. Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) “wants to let [cable and satellite TV] customers buy their pay channels on an a la carte basis,” The Wrap reports. That is certainly an option many customers would like to have, but McCain’s bad idea is to use the heavy hand of government to make it happen.
At present the market does not provide this option, the Wrap report notes, because the providers of popular content (such as ESPN, the Discovery Channel, and the like) force the cable and satellite distributors to take less-popular channels along with the more desirable ones. This raises prices for everybody. The Wrap’s wording implies that cable companies like this arrangement, though I greatly doubt that they do:
Under the current system, cable companies charge customers for bundles of channels. In turn, media companies package their content to cable providers so that they are forced to pay for less popular channels in order to get access to more desirable ones like ESPN or AMC.
Instead of letting the market sort this out—which technological change is making inevitable as people’s TV viewing increasingly is done via the Internet instead of or in addition to cable, satellite, and/or broadcast services—McCain wants to put the burden mainly on one party, the cable and satellite providers:
The Arizona Republican is preparing legislation that would let cable customers buy channels individually, according to a report in The Hill.
That phrase “would let cable customers buy channels individually” is both telling and inaccurate. It’s revealing in the use of attractive wording to describe a government mandate, and it’s false in the implication that government can “let” cable customers do this. It cannot; it can only force cable companies to let cable customers buy the channels individually. That is a very different thing altogether, and it will have additional consequences, as we shall see.
McCain’s bill would put some pressure on some programming providers. It would forbid broadcast networks from forcing cable operators to buy the broadcasters’ non-broadcast cable channels in order to get the broadcast channels, thus making it easier to sell them separately. It would also end the sports blackout rule and pull the licenses of broadcasters who remove their programming from broadcast airwaves in order to avoid it being picked up for free by Internet redistributors, which some are considering doing.
McCain’s plan is certainly well-intended, but it would just be more clumsy government intrusion in things that don’t respond well to brute force. Requiring cable operators to offer channels individually, without also requiring allcontent providers (not just broadcast networks) to unbundle their programs will at best have no effect on prices and at worst will drive up prices and reduce access to programming. In fact, forcing unbundling will almost certainly reduce cable consumers’ access to programming.
Consider the microeconomics of the matter: the cable operator will have to offer the channels individually, but it will still have to pay for many channels en bloc, which means that someone will still have to eat the cost of the unpopular channels. That unlucky party will be the consumer, because what the cable operator will have to do is price the individually offered channels and/or customized tiers at a level that will ensure a profit or go out of business.
That means the customers will still end up paying for the unpopular programs, or the cable companies will shut down, reducing availability of the services. And to the extent that the scheme is successful in forcing unbundling, it will certainly reduce access to programming because the less popular channels will have much less appeal for the cable provider. That consequence, you may be sure, will result in further government intervention to force cable operators to provide the less-popular channels. Prices will “necessarily skyrocket,” in then-Sen. Obama’s famous words, or cable operators will have to leave the business altogether.
A more sensible approach would be for Congress to remove broadcast exclusivity, must-carry, and other such market-distorting laws and regulations and allow the providers and customers to determine what is offered and at what price points. That would provide the best services, lowest prices, and broadest access to programming, but it would require lawmakers to acknowledge that they’re not smarter than the cumulative choices of nearly 300 million people. Hence, it’s exceedingly unlikely.
The Barack Obama Administration has nominated Tom Wheeler to replace Julius Genachowski as Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman. (Wheeler awaits Senate approval.)
Wheeler has – Heaven forfend – actually held pertinent private sector gigs:
Wheeler served as president of the National Cable Television Association (NCTA), and later as CEO of the Cellular Telecommunications & Internet Association (CTIA).
Many on the Left find Wheeler’s real-world experience and knowledge troubling:
Senator Bernie Sanders, a Vermont independent (umm, he’s a Socialist), (said)… “I…am troubled that President Obama would appoint the former head of two major industry lobbying associations to regulate the industry.”
Many on the Left find it very troubling:
(M)ore than two dozen public interest groups (umm, they’re government interest groups) wrote to Obama expressing alarm that the president was considering a candidate “who was the head of not one but two major industry lobbying groups.
“After decades of industry-backed chairmen, we need a strong consumer advocate and public interest representative at the helm….It’s time to end regulatory capture at the FCC and restore balance to government oversight.”
“Industry-backed chairmen?” Let’s take a brief look at how Genachowski has treated the industry.
Opposition from whom?
But wait…that’s the industry – suing to overturn the unilateral decision of “industry-backed” Chairman Genachowski. Hmmm…. How else has this Chairman “backed” the industry (into a corner)?
And how did the industry like that?
Never before have so many trial lawyers made so much money during the “regulatory capture” rule of an “industry-backed” Chairman.
Now comes Wheeler. Who will inherit amongst other terrible policies these oppressive Net Neutrality regulations – and the lawsuits pending to undo them. The FCC doesn’t have the authority to impose Net Neutrality – the D.C. Circuit Court has already once ruled they don’t.
And that same Court will likely rule that way again.
Chairman-to-be-Wheeler – why continue this unilateral regulatory and litigative folly? Why not move to withdraw these unlawful Net Neutrality rules? After all, We the People are paying for both sides of the lawsuit to undo this power grab.
As Taxpayers, we are paying for the government’s lawyers to defend the defenseless. And as Internet users, we are all paying again. All the time, money and effort the industry has to waste attempting to undo the FCC’s overreach could and would be much better spent improving for us their goods and services – and thus the Internet.
It’s always amusing to have Leftist power grabs force these uber-expensive lawsuits – while Leftists complain about industry’s allegedly high prices, inflated by the companies having to pass along to us the costs of these lawsuits and lawyers.
We already have a much better way to deal with Net Neutrality violations. On a case-by-case basis – rather than a top-down, all-encompassing regulatory approach. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has on its side what the FCC does not - existing law, authority and expertise.
(W)e (at the FTC) are up to the task of addressing competition and consumer protection issues arising in Internet markets generally, and more specifically, of applying our considerable experience and expertise in analyzing the vertical issues to the net neutrality context.
That is, when Net Neutrality violations actually occur – which Genachowski admits they aren’t.
And Chairman-to-be-Wheeler – would you please close your predecessor’s Internet reclassification order, which has now been open for nearly three years?
This is a terrible idea.
Title II is how the FCC over-regulates land line telephone lines – you know, that bastion of innovation lo these last seventy-plus years. Title II opens up the Pandora’s Box of uber-regulation of the Internet. But wait – there’s more.
Under Title II, President Obama can also begin to tax the Internet. Just as the Feds tax landlines. Just as they already tax the living daylights out of your wireless Internet - checked your cell phone bill lately? It’s 17.4% – and climbing, an $8 billion total take in 2010 – and hurtling ever upward.
Chairman-to-be-Wheeler, you could do immense good for the American people’s wallets and freedom – and the continued uber-advancement of the Internet – if you ended your predecessor’s existing and prospective power grabs, and kept the FCC within its legal authority limits.
It would be a welcome, refreshing change of the way Washington usually does business.
[First Published at Red State]
In 1965, almost no parents put their three-year-olds in nursery school. Now, two in five three-year-olds attend, and two-thirds of four-year-olds do. Government preschool enrollment has doubled in the past ten years, to nearly a third of the nation’s small children. This indicates two bad things: More tots getting pre-remediation and conservative lawmakers joining their liberal colleagues in addressing this at the fruit rather than the root.
As President Barack Obama runs about trying to engage states in another “the feds will tax and indebt your people more now so we can all tax them even more later” scheme with his Medicare-like preschool proposal, it’s time for Republicans to start thinking as much about small children as they are about illegal immigrants.
In short, Republicans have been capitulating to the idea that preschool is the next entitlement our country needs and getting nothing worthwhile in exchange for voting for such programs. The conversation has been “How big should the program be?” rather than “Why do we need this?”
It is well-known that children from middle- and upper-income families do not need preschool. Their parents teach them to recognize capital letters and count. Such families use preschool as essentially a luxury, a way for mommy or daddy to get some sanity time or work done, or so the little people can have super play time. But lifestyle preferences are not a valid reason for taxpayer subsidies.
More responsible governments sponsor preschool on the grounds that some children need it to compensate for families who cannot or do not help with reading and adding. This assumes, however, that the schools such children attend cannot fill in these deficiencies in the other 12 to 13 years they spend on education. In that case, why send poor kids to school at all?
This is the same point eminent literacy expert E.D. Hirsch made back in the 80s when debunking the myth that poverty determines children’s intellectual ability. Rags-to-riches powerhouses such as Thomas Sowell, Oprah Winfrey, and Frederick Douglass proved this a myth long before the research did. Thanks to Hirsch and prominent experimental charter schools like KIPP, though, we now know good schools can close achievement gaps in as little as three to four years.
This is very hard work, however, and it requires a very strong school support structure and real teaching talent, so it’s important to deal with the root cause of a rising need for remedial education at age three: those troubling distracted families.
Back in 1965, less than one in ten children were born to unwed mothers. Now, half of all U.S. children are born to a life with no committed father, and the divorce rate has doubled. The evidence is indisputable that children living in cohabiting, never-married, or divorced homes are far more likely to be poor and far more likely to have trouble learning. The reason is obvious: There’s one-half as many grown-ups at home to read to these kids and talk to them.
Family breakdown and school incompetence are traditional conservative drums. Both have coincided to rain all over the futures of needy children. Putting an expensive, ineffective patch on these kids’ gaping intellectual wounds just so lawmakers can claim they solved the problem is cowardly and shameful. Real problem-solvers will require, at least in trade for targeted preschool, measures that address the heartbreaking reasons demand for it is rising.
[First Published at Human Events]
And cats were chased into holes by the mouse …
If summer were spring and the other way round,
Then all the world would be upside down.
Once in a long while, an event evokes one of my favorite historical images: the British Army band, at Lord Cornwallis’ surrender at Yorktown which sealed the Americans’ revolutionary victory, playing “The World Turned Upside Down.”
In this case, the event is the dramatic change over the past two weeks in the “mainstream” media’s coverage of President Obama.
From reporters to opinion writers, from newspapers to television, after a mere four and a half years of economic fecklessness, foreign policy failure, unseemly narcissism, and a Nobel Prize for deeds to be named later, prominent liberal-leaning pundits and organizations may have finally realized that reality, if not journalistic ethics, demands a more clear-eyed look at the president they have been so deeply invested in.
Or maybe they’ve just noticed that their fawning and sycophancy has meant declining circulation and viewership.
But whatever the reason, the dominant establishment mass media’s turn is as remarkable as it is welcome.
The first major crack in the dike may have come from New York Times opinion columnist Maureen Dowd in an April 20 piece entitled “No Bully in the Pulpit” in which she bemoans President Obama’s inability to pass restrictions on gun rights. It is not the liberal writer’s anger over the outcome that is surprising; it is that instead of the usual “it’s all the Republicans’ fault” meme, she lays the blame directly at the feet of the previously Teflon-coated president:
It’s unbelievable that with 90 percent of Americans on his side, he could get only 54 votes in the Senate. It was a glaring example of his weakness in using leverage to get what he wants. No one on Capitol Hill is scared of him. Even House Republicans who had no intention of voting for the gun bill marveled privately that the president could not muster 60 votes in a Senate that his party controls.”
Dowd’s criticism of Obama was, by N.Y. Times standards, withering:
- “President Obama thinks he can use emotion to bring pressure on Congress. But that’s not how adults with power respond to things.”
- “When you go into a fight saying you’re probably going to lose, you’re probably going to lose.”
- And most to the point, “Unfortunately, [Obama] still has not learned how to govern.”
Apparently, Maureen Dowd gave other reporters and columnists a “permission structure” to tell their cloistered liberal readers what much of the rest of the country has long understood. Over the ensuing two weeks, they’ve used that permission, raining down a deluge of criticism of Obama.
On April 30, Dana Milbank — a liberal columnist for the Washington Post who recently asked in writing “Is there nobody who can tell Ted Cruz to shut up?” (Dana, I suggest you walk over there and try it yourself) — called Barack Obama “A presidential bystander.”
This was in response to Obama’s press conference that morning in which “The president was out of sorts from the start.…He didn’t attempt to set the tone for the event.…And he often found himself remarking on the difficulty of his job.”
Milbank closed his note with this advice for Obama: “[L]ively leadership is the way to resuscitate a moribund presidency.”
Also in response to Obama’s disastrous press conference performance, another liberal columnist, Frida Ghitis, says that the president is “failing on moral leadership.”
Ms. Ghitis argues that “The president is smart and eloquent. But leadership, especially for someone who has achieved that level of power, requires three elements: It must communicate a clear vision and a commitment to its realization; it must mobilize and inspire others into action; and it must produce results.” On a wide range of issues, she seems to believe Obama is accomplishing none of those things — and, regardless of political viewpoint, who could disagree?
Her conclusion echoes those of Milbank and Dowd: “Of course, the problems he has to deal with are difficult and often offer choices between bad and worse. But the time is right for a new display of conviction, of effectiveness, of leadership.”
It’s not just opinion writers but also reporters who suddenly seem willing to criticize President Obama’s abilities or leadership or favored programs and policies.
The highlight (or for Obama, the lowlight) of the April 30 press conference was a question by ABC News’ Jonathan Karl: After laying out a list of Obama’s political failures including gun control and the sequester, Karl asked “So my question to you is do you still have the juice to get the rest of your agenda through this Congress?” No, that wasn’t Fox News’ Ed Henry, but the White House reporter for one of the three old-line broadcast networks who dared to ask such a question.
In typical Barack Obama style, the response was a 9-minute passionless sermon best described by Tom Lehrer’s description of Gilbert and Sullivan’s comic operas: “Full of words…and signifying nothing.”
No doubt asking hard questions of a man so richly deserving of them was a liberating renewal for Mr. Karl and maybe part of a new permission structure for his Obama-adoring colleagues: “Oh, now I remember why I went to journalism school.” But perhaps I am too optimistic.
On April 25, N.Y. Times reporter Sharon LaFraniere published a remarkable piece of investigative journalism in criticism of a fraud-infested race-based scheme used by Democrats to buy elections. When I mentioned to Ms. LaFraniere how impressed I was to see this story in the Grey Lady, she responded “the NYT really wants to uncover the truth. There are no sacred cows.” Frankly, when it comes to Times management, I don’t believe it…though I believe LaFraniere does, and she can rightly point to the fact that she was allowed to publish a 5,300 word, front-page story which must have caused many Democrats, including Times editors and President Obama, to cringe.
A week later, a group of four Times reporters published another front page article — a dagger in the heart of what little foreign policy credibility President Obama has left, even among the left. In that story, readers learn that Obama’s infamous “red line” regarding the use of chemical weapons by the Assad regime in Syria was an unscripted ad-lib which came “to the surprise of some of his advisers” and which “defined his policy in a way some advisers wish they could take back.”
By putting his foot in his mouth, by implicitly committing to some substantive American response to a particular event that may now have happened, Obama may have cornered himself into taking an action that he doesn’t want to take, namely “providing lethal assistance to the Syrian rebels” — which is, despite Congressional chicken hawks’ pleas to go down that very road, a truly terrible idea.
In short, the article suggests that by not understanding the significance of his words, the president has narrowed his options, possibly forced his own hand, and impacted the already jaundiced eye that America’s allies and enemies alike turn toward any American foreign policy statements of this administration. Obama has through his egocentrism and naïveté added instability to an already dangerously unstable world. May I remind you: this was the New York Times.
And last week, following a “sunny speech in Mexico,” reporters at the Los Angeles Times penned an article stating that “audience members didn’t necessarily agree with [Obama’s] assessment” of Mexico’s current situation and likely future progress.
The article corrected several Obama claims on issues like immigration and an emerging Mexican middle class, noted that “many among the several hundred people in attendance said he seemed too upbeat about their country” and quoted audience members with reactions like “Obama is fantastic, but I believe that today he was talking about another country, not ours.”
Particularly when it comes to foreign affairs, Barack Obama is no longer the adoringly-fêted citizen-of-the-world who, on July 24, 2008 spoke in Berlin to 200,000 adoring, mindless fans, in a speech that German magazine Der Spiegel called “People of the World, Look at Me.”
To be sure, not all of the usual suspects in the liberal media have changed their tunes. Former CBS News anchor Dan Rather, still bitter over losing his job in an attempt to smear George W. Bush with a forged document, says that Obama’s Republican opponents “want to cut his heart out and throw his liver to the dogs.” (One wonders what they want to do with the heart.)
But when reporters and columnists from the N.Y. Times to the Washington Post, L.A. Times, CNN, ABC News, and others have suddenly come out of their Obama-critique group-laryngitis and are telling the world that the president is a reckless, feckless, spineless non-leader, the political world has indeed turned upside down.
[First published at the American Spectator]
We’ve heard it from the Left for years. Europe allegedly has much better, faster and cheaper Internet service than does the United States – because the European Union and individual governments are far more involved in regulating and even funding service providers.
New York Times Three-Part Series:
The Left’s “solution?” Get the U.S. government far more involved.
The Left constantly complains that there aren’t enough U.S. service providers – so they want the government to get in the service providing business.
And how’s that worked out?
The Left wants the Internet and cellular market much more heavily regulated – like they do in Europe. Again, the Barack Obama Administration is (in unilateral, Congress-free fashion) delivering.
As the Administration and the Left remake our Internet and cell phone landscape in the image of their sainted Europe – what is the Old World doing?
Realizing their model is an utter disaster, and looking to roll back the types of regulations the Obama Administration is piling on.
Are more regs and providers a good idea? Not so much.
When the bosses of global mobile operators meet in Barcelona this week, there will be an elephant in the room: the widening gap between fast-growing and richly-valued U.S. telecoms companies and their ailing European counterparts.
An overcrowded market, tough regulations and recession are hampering European telcos’ ability to invest in faster networks, increasing the risk that the region’s flagging economy falls further behind the United States and parts of Asia….
The gap reflects differences in the competitive landscape. Europe has about 100 mobile firms to the United States’ six, as well as harsher rules that have sapped profitability and contributed to four straight years of revenue decline.
Consumers could face arbitrarily high costs just to call a neighboring state or town. Businesses wanting to sell service nationally through mergers or network-sharing arrangements could be impeded by a patchwork of conflicting market rules….
(W)ith economic growth in the bloc near the top of policy makers’ agenda, the Continent’s balkanized telecommunications industry is coming under new scrutiny, which may create an opportunity to dismantle some of the structural obstacles to a single market.
Signs of those changes are beginning to appear.
So as the Administration and the Left continue to build here their Old World-esque uber-regulatory Internet fantasy, a newer Europe is seeing Reality set in – and heading in the opposite direction.
This Administration is, as usual, utterly impervious to Reality.
It’s going to be a very long second four years.
[First published at Red State]
Imagine that a panel discussion entitled “How to attack Kazakhstan to destroy their nuclear weapons” was held at a prestigious hotel in Canada’s capital. Coordinated by a hawkish right-wing think tank and chaired by an intellectual fellow traveler, the hypothetical panel consisted of five strategic experts who rigidly supported the notion that Kazakhstan still has nuclear weapons and are planning to use them against their neighbors. Discussion focused entirely on the best ways to attack Kazakhstan to disarm them ‘before it was too late’:
- Should we use air power or land forces?
- Should the attack be led by the UN or NATO?
- Should only conventional forces be used or would a nuclear strike be justified?
- How would Kazakhstan be ruled after the war?
No participant in the imaginary panel bothered to consider:
- The possibility that Kazakhstan may no longer have nuclear weapons*;
- Whether Kazakhstan had any intension of developing such weapons;
- Whether they had the technology and resources to develop them;
- The likelihood that Kazakhstan would attack anyone even if they did have nuclear weapons.
*Note: according the USAF Air University, “Kazakhstan had returned to Russia all the strategic nuclear warheads on its territory by April 1995. Kazakhstan does not possess, nor can it afford to acquire, the infrastructure needed to maintain and operate a nuclear force.”
And, of course, moderators of the imaginary Kazakhstan panel censored out questions from the audience that dared ask about any of these obvious, and exceptionally important, issues. This meeting was for true believers, only.
How would mainstream media cover such an event? Might they label speakers hot-headed and dangerous? Might the panel be dismissed as obvious propaganda based on beliefs that were clearly wrong? Might reporters point out that the meeting was hopelessly biased because it considered no alternative points of view or allowed questions about the underlying premise that Kazakhstan had nuclear weapons and were intent on acting belligerently?
Of course, they would. Presenters and the think tank organizers would be condemned by media who would, justifiably, dismiss the event as crazy.
Nevertheless, when an equally biased and unsubstantiated meeting was held yesterday in the real world, Canada’s “newspaper of record” gave them a free pass.
Here is what happened:
On Wednesday at Ottawa’s Château Laurier Hotel the group Canada 2020 hosted a panel discussion entitled “How to sell carbon pricing to Canadians”. With former CBC journalist Don Newman acting as host, the panelists included:
- The Hon. Jean Charest, former Premier of Quebec
- Kathryn Harrison, Professor of Political Science, University of British Columbia
- Elizabeth May, M.P., Leader of the Green Party of Canada
- Eric Newell, Chair of Alberta’s Climate Change and Emissions Management Corporation
- Bob Inglis, former U.S. Republican Congressman and Executive Director of the Energy and Enterprise Initiative of George Mason University
Much like our fictitious Kazakhstan panel, the speakers in the Canada 2020 event discussed various ‘weapons’—in this case economic, policy, technological and public relations—to compel Canadians to cut “carbon” to solve the supposed climate crisis. There was zero debate, or even discussion, about the actual evidence for a global climate crisis or whether humanity’s emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) are in any way responsible. Throughout the event, all participants, even Newman, wrongly labeled CO2 as “carbon”, at times even calling it “pollution”. The very existence of alternative science points of view about the causes of climate change was totally ignored.
Viewers got a preview of the biased nature of the event when they read in the advertisement on Canada 2020’s Webpage:
“The magnitude of the carbon crisis is such that every possible tool needs to be available to policy makers as they craft their response.”
For those in the alternative universe as represented by Wednesday’s panel:
- There has been no cessation in global warming for the past 17 years ago (even though there has).
- Global warming has caused a recent increase in the severity and frequency of extreme weather events in Canada and across the world (even though there has been no such rise–we are near a 30-year low in Accumulated Cyclone (hurricanes in the North Atlantic) Energy, for example).
- Forecasts of future climate change are reliable (even though no model forecast a 17-year pause in global warming and Environment Canada’s national seasonal forecasts are no more accurate than a throw of dice).
- All reputable scientists agree that we are causing a climate change crisis with our “carbon emissions” (even though, as demonstrated over the past two week by Reuters, The Economist and The Telegraph (London, UK) more and more climate scientists who used to believe in the climate scare are having second thoughts or changing sides entirely).
- It is better to spend billions of dollars retooling our energy infrastructure to quickly expand use of inadaquate wind power and other ‘green’ sources, thereby risking life-threatening electricity shortages, than to simply prepare for and adapt to future climate change.
Taken literally, the excited statement in the Canada 2020 ad was actually correct, but not for reasons organizers envisioned. If policy makers really want to spend massive amounts of money on CO2 reduction, even as the public come to understand that “The magnitude of the carbon crisis” is likely to be very small, then, yes, they will have to use “every possible tool” to “craft their response.” I don’t envy their speech writers.
Watching the two hour talkfest on line I wondered, how could panelists believe viewers would be swayed by their advocacy if they pretend that credible alternative points of view on the science do not even exist? Most of the public have seen and heard from at least some leading experts on the other side of the discussion and know about the intense debate concerning climate change causes. What else are they not telling us, the public would naturally wonder.
Since the organizers were taking questions via Twitter to be directed live to panelists, I tweeted my question:
“#can2020 – question: how can you expect the public to take your concerns seriously when you deny uncertainty in the climate science?”
The response was immediate. Ignoring May’s assertion that we need to “have a grown up conversation about climate change about the threats it imposes on Canada”, I was instantly labeled a dinosaur by fellow Tweeters, generally insulted and told to go away. My question was clearly beyond the pale for the august group of climate campaigners on stage and so was censored out by panel organizers.
Don’t expect mainstream media to point out the serious flaws in this event. Already, the Globe and Mail’s report is simply cheerleading, making no reference to the panel’s quasi-religious nature.
What Canada 2020 panelists and organizers seem to not understand is that all planning for the future involves sensible risk assessment. This includes considering, not just the possible impacts of climate change, but also the likelihood of them actually coming about. And that means dealing with uncertainties. Lecturing Canadians about fictional global warming certainty when future climate states are actually unknown, does us all a disservice and, in the long run will sway no one not already committed to the scare.
Seen in that light, perhaps the propagandic nature of Canada 2020’s “How to sell carbon pricing to Canadians” was a blessing in disguise. After all, the last thing we want is for anyone to take attack-Kazakhstan-like activists seriously.
[First published at New.Ideas@Frontier]
That’s why, Tom Wheeler, the President’s nominee for Chairman of the FCC, could become one of the most consequential FCC leaders in American history.
As a longtime communications industry leader and also an accomplished historian, he appreciates more than most anyone the hinge in time in which he now finds himself.
The FCC is in the throes of a seminal historical transition. Like the 1913 Kingsbury Commitment that created a national telephone monopoly. Like the 1934 Communications Act that created the FCC and mandated universal telephone service. And like the 1996 Telecom Act that mandated competition policy replace monopoly regulation.
Today, companies and consumers have adapted to, and enjoy the benefits of, the transition to the competitive Internet marketplace that we all live in today. In contrast the Government, particularly the FCC and Federal holders of radio spectrum, have not made the transition.
And to make matters worse, they are inherently hostile to transitioning their mission, methods and mindset to the new competitive Internet era.
Common carrier regulation ended for: railroads 37 years ago; trucking and bus-lines 33 years ago; and airlines 29 years ago. Why does the FCC still cling to 1887 common-carrier railroad regulation for communications when it became obsolete in every other industry?
Common carrier regulation of communications is unnecessary and irrelevant, given the Internet, robust facilities-based competition, and the mobile broadband revolution of smart-phones and tablets.
Why can’t the FCC make the transition to the modern reality where competition, consumer choice and innovation wildly out-perform regulation? Market forces have delivered universal availability of both wire line and wireless broadband in less than a decade when it took the FCC several decades longer to deliver universal availability of telephone service.
Under FCC regulation the telephone changed little for over a half century. In seventeen years of competition policy, consumers and businesses have enjoyed the vast choice of: hundreds of Internet- enabled devices and several broadband providers offering different technology options.
Still there are many inside and outside of the FCC that stubbornly deny market reality. They define “the public interest” to be what the few think is best for the many, rather than letting the many continue to choose what’s best for themselves from the panoply of choices in the competitive Internet marketplace.
As the Administration’s point person responsible for the DTV transition from analog to digital television four years ago, Mr. Wheeler understands big transitions and has successfully led one. His proven transition leadership skills and experience will be essential given the many strategically important transitions currently in train that need to be successfully led at the FCC.
First, the FCC transition must be led. The FCC can no longer ignore reality and torture obsolete statutes, precedents and regulations to procrastinate and avoid the needed FCC transition to the competitive Internet reality.
If the courts tell the FCC they do not have the statutory authority to do what they believe is necessary, the FCC should either appeal, or propose to Congress the legislative authority that they believe they need to operate as a modern FCC.
Continuing to ignore the courts, Congress, and the Constitution is not a sustainable or productive FCC policy. It is akin to holding one’s breath until one gets one’s way.
The FCC transition requires strategic leadership to navigate from a legacy-dependent, backward-looking, self-centered institution to a more modern, humble, nimble and externally-focused institution able to keep up with the times.
The FCC is in desperate need of a leader that understands that the FCC can’t be the only part of the communications ecosystem that is not modern. The American consumer and competitive, innovative industries deserve better.
Second, the IP transition must be led from the obsolescent monopoly telephone price regulation regime to an enforcement regime of consumer protection. This transition cannot be ignored as the number of subscribers to the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) has fallen by two thirds due to competition and wireless/Internet substitution.
And during Mr. Wheeler’s expected tenure that number of legacy subscribers to the PSTN is expected to drop to ~10% of Americans, similar to the number of legacy over-the-air broadcast consumers.
Continuing to operate a system designed for everyone, when only ~10% may still use it, makes no sense.
Third, the spectrum transition must be led from the Government controlling ~85% of the nation’s radio spectrum suitable for wireless broadband, to about 20% over the next decade or two.
Controlling ~85% of spectrum makes no sense when the Federal Government only uses 1% of the nation’s energy; provides 8% of the nation’s employment; produces 12% of the nation’s GDP; and gets by with 30% of the nation’s land.
Leadership is desperately needed to transition the Federal Government from wasting valuable radio spectrum to applying modern, good-government, management and accountability practices to spectrum.
Fourth, the public safety transition must be led to ensure that the 9-11 recommendation for an interoperable public safety network finally happens, and does not fall on its face again because of avoidable FCC implementation mistakes.
In sum, this is an exceptionally consequential hinge in time for the FCC. Mr. Wheeler has the opportunity and challenge to lead the FCC into the modern era, so the FCC can return to being part of the solution and not the problem for consumers.
Simply, the FCC can no longer kick the proverbial can down the road; that road is ending.
[First published at the Daily Caller]