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Internet Peering Doesn’t Need Fixing – NetComp CommActUpdate Submission

August 12, 2014, 9:51 AM

The old adage is true here; “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it.”

The Internet peering marketplace works exceptionally well and it has for its entire twenty year history. The unparalleled success, growth, and resiliency of the unregulated model for the Internet backbone peering marketplace has been nothing short of phenomenal in enabling and ensuring everyone reasonable access to the Internet.

Inter-networked computer networks are effectively the opposite of railroad, electricity, and telephone networks; trying to impose telephone interconnection rules on IP inter-networking is akin to forcing a square peg into a round hole. It predictably breaks both the peg and the hole.

Please see NetCompetition’s House CommActUpdate submission on interconnection – here. (3 pages)

Summary of What Congress Needs to Know

As Congress considers modernizing communications legislation concerning Internet peering and interconnection issues, it is imperative to understand how Internet peering and voice interconnection are fundamentally different from two key policymaking perspectives.

How Internet networks are completely different from railroad and electricity networks.

  1. Place-independent vs. place-dependent
  2. Software-dependent vs. hardware dependent
  3. Digital vs. analog

How IP packet networking fundamentally differs from legacy voice interconnection.

  1. Circuit technology vs. packet-switching technology
  2. Continuous vs. discontinuous transmission
  3. Predictable vs. unpredictable transmission
  4. Unitary service vs. multiple services
  5. Centralized vs. decentralized architectures
  6. Location-driven vs. location-agnostic
  7. Best efforts vs. guarantees
  8. Accounting simplicity vs. complexity
  9. Access vs. connection

To see the full three page analysis submitted to the House CommActUpdate click here.

[Originally published at Precursor Blog]

Categories: On the Blog

“Climate-Smart” Policies for Africa are Stupid, and Immoral

August 12, 2014, 9:36 AM

The 2014 US-Africa Leaders Summit hosted by President Obama this past week brought together the largest-ever gathering of African government officials in Washington, DC. They discussed ways to bolster trade and investment by American companies on a continent where a billion people – including 200 million aged 15 to 24 – are becoming wealthier and better educated.

They have steadily rising expectations and recognize the pressing need to create jobs, improve security, reduce corruption, and control diseases like Ebola, HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria. They also understand that better roads and air transportation, improved agriculture and nutrition, and far more energy – especially electricity – are the sine qua non to achieving their aspirations. Indeed, nearly 700 million Africans still do not have electricity or get it only sporadically, a few hours a day or week.

“The bottom line is, the United States is making a major and long-term investment in Africa’s progress,” Mr. Obama stated. One has to wonder whether his rhetoric matches his policy agenda – and whether Africans would do well to remember the president’s assurances that Americans could keep their doctors, hospitals and insurance, when they hear his fine words and lofty promises for Africa.

The fact is, no modern economies, healthcare systems or wealth-building technologies can function in the absence of abundant, reliable, affordable electricity and motor fuels. They require far more than can possibly come from “climate-smart” wind, solar and biofuel sources. Adequate food and nutrition require modern agriculture. Eradicating malaria requires chemical insecticides, DDT and ACT drugs.

Obama Administration policies on all these matters are likely to hold Africa back for decades.

For President Obama, everything revolves around fears of “dangerous manmade climate change” and a determination to slash or end fossil fuel use. He has said electricity rates must “necessarily skyrocket.” His former Energy Secretary wanted gasoline prices to reach European levels: $8-10 per gallon. His EPA is waging a war on coal. And his own requirements would prevent Africa from modernizing.

In 2009, the president told Africans they should focus on their “bountiful” wind, solar, geothermal and biofuel resources, and refrain from using “dirty” fossil fuels.  He signed an executive order, directing the Overseas Private Investment Corporation to ensure that any projects it finances reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by 30% by 2020. He launched a number of domestic and international climate initiatives.

Afterward, when Ghana asked OPIC to support a $185 million gas-fired electrical generator (that would utilize natural gas being flared and wasted at its oil production operations), OPIC refused to help. When South Africa sought a World Bank loan for its state-of-the-art Medupi coal-fired power plant (which will reduce dangerous pollutants 90% below what 1970s-era plants emitted), the White House ”abstained” from supporting the loan. Thankfully, approval squeaked by anyway, and Medupi will soon be a reality.

Even more absurd and unethical, the White House announced last October that it will now oppose any public financing for coal-based power projects, except in the world’s poorest nations, unless they meet the draconian carbon dioxide emission standards now imposed on new coal-fired generators in the USA.

These policies prolong reliance on open fires fueled by wood and dung. They mean families are denied lights, refrigeration and other benefits of electricity, and millions die every year from lung and intestinal diseases, and other effects of rampant poverty. With hydrocarbons still providing 82% of the world’s energy – and China, India and other rapidly developing countries building numerous coal-fired generating plants – retarding Africa’s development in the name of preventing climate chaos is useless and immoral.

Meanwhile, President Obama is still guided by science advisor John Holdren, a fervent opponent of fossil fuels who infamously said the United States should support only the “ecologically feasible” development of poor countries, in line with his perceived “realities” of ecology and rapid energy resource depletion. How that translates into official policy can be seen from Mr. Obama’s 2013 remark: “Here in Africa, if everybody is raising living standards to the point where everybody has got a car, and everybody has got air conditioning, and everybody has got a big house, well, the planet will boil over.”

Secretary of State John Kerry’s inane recent statements are equally problematical for Africa. His fixation on “climate-smart” energy and agriculture suggests that he lives on another planet and cannot imagine life outside a $5-million mansion – and certainly not life for destitute families in sub-Saharan Africa.

For proof of manmade climate change, Kerry told US-Africa Summit attendees, one need only look at the “hotter temperatures, longer droughts and unpredictable rainfall patterns” that farmers must now deal with. Not only are global temperature trends flat for the past 18 years; actual records show clearly that drought and rainfall fluctuations are no different from what North American, African and other farmers have had to deal with for centuries. Moreover, increasing evidence suggests that the sun’s ongoing “quiet” period may portend several decades of markedly colder global temperatures.

Even more absurd, Kerry told attendees that “carbon pollution” is making food “less nutritious.” First, it’s not carbon (soot). It’s carbon dioxide, which makes food crops, trees and other plants grow faster and better, and survive better under adverse conditions like droughts. Second, hothouses routinely increase their CO2 levels to two or more times what is in Earth’s atmosphere, to spur crop growth. Are these German, Israeli and American tomatoes and cucumbers less nutritious than field-grown varieties? In fact,recent studies have found increased nutrient concentrations in food crops, thanks to higher CO2.

To the extent that “research” supports any of these ridiculous claims, it merely underscores what scientists will concoct when tempted by billions in government grants – or intimidated by activists and colleagues who attack them as climate change “deniers” if they do not play the Climate Armageddon game.

Secretary Kerry did suggest that the best way to help farmers is through “climate-smart agriculture” and “creative solutions that increase food production.” But it’s a virtual certainty he did not mean any of the things that really would help: biotechnology, modern mechanized farming and chemical fertilizers.

Genetically engineered Golden Rice and bananas are rich in beta-carotene, which humans can convert to Vitamin A, to prevent childhood blindness and save lives. New Bt corn varieties both kill insect pests, dramatically reducing the need for pesticides, and enable corn (maize) plants to survive droughts. New rice varieties can survive prolonged submergence during monsoons and floods. These crops, modern hybrid seeds and chemical fertilizers multiply traditional yields many times over. Other developments let farmers practice no-till farming, which protects vital soil organisms and nutrients and reduces erosion.

These solutions won’t just improve adaptation to whatever climates might confront us in the future. They will also enable us to feed billions of people – including some 250 million malnourished Africans – without having to plow under millions of acres of wildlife habitat. However, Big Green activists in and out of government oppose GMO crops, fossil fuels and modern farming, whatever their benefits to humanity – and regardless of the death and destruction that result when people are denied access to them.

Africa is blessed with abundant oil, gas and coal. Turning food into fuel would squander those resources and divert land, water, fertilizers and energy from feeding people – to produce expensive fuels and leave people malnourished. This is not “climate-smart” energy or agriculture. It’s just plain stupid.

Wind and solar will let people in remote areas have light bulbs, tiny refrigerators and cell phone chargers, until they can be connected to an electrical grid. They cannot support modern economies, factories, shops, schools, hospitals or families. Coal, natural gas, nuclear and hydro-based electricity are essential.

Here is the real bottom line: Africans should not do what the United States is doing now that it is rich. It should do what the United States did to become rich.

Paul Driessen is senior policy analyst for the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow (www.CFACT.org) and author of Eco-Imperialism: Green power – Black death.

Categories: On the Blog

A Musing on the Price of Gold

August 11, 2014, 9:24 AM

During the first three weeks of July 1944 more than 700 delegates representing 44 Allied nations — the major economic powers of the world dawning as, a month after D-Day, the end of World War II seemed to come into view – met at the Mount Washington Hotel in Bretton Woods, New Hampshire, to formalize arrangements for the postwar global economic order.

The United States dollar, operating on a gold standard, redeemable by non-American dollar-holders for a fixed amount of gold, was to serve as the international reserve currency;  currency convertibility principles were confirmed;  and new institutions, including the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (“the World Bank”) and the International Monetary Fund were brought into existence.

The leader of the American delegation at that conference was Harry Dexter White.  The leader of the British delegation was John Maynard Keynes.  Remarkably, given the at-least-nominally pro-capitalist objectives of the conference, a delegation from Russia, then the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics under the dictatorship of Joseph Stalin, also attended.

The overall goal of the conference was to establish an international regime promoting a stable monetary system that would serve the needs of a future world characterized by free enterprise, free markets, free trade, and stable and interconvertible currencies.

Some arrangements agreed upon at Bretton Woods came into effect immediately;  others were achieved in later years;  and some were never realized at all.  Whether or not what has come to be called the “Bretton Woods system” has met all or part of its objectives remains subject to debate.

Many features of the Bretton Woods system, including use of the U.S. dollar as the international reserve currency, and the World Bank and the IMF, survive bearing some recognizable relation to the picture painted at Bretton Woods.  Other aspects of the system, including the maintenance of the dollar on a gold standard, have receded into history.

To mark the 70th anniversary of the Bretton Woods conference, a major conference will be held at the original venue in New Hampshire on September 2, 3, and 4 of this year — in less than a month.  Conferees from all over the world will gather to recall the 1944 conference and the system that was ordained there, and to debate and discuss their history and consequences.

All aspects of the Bretton Woods system, including the on-going use of the dollar as the global reserve currency, and the questions of whether or not a gold standard should be re-established or some modern replacement for it found, remain controversial.  At the heart of these discussions is the perennial conversation over whether and how market mechanisms may be substituted for political choices and coercive measures, to regulate the world’s monetary, banking, and trade activities.

Against that background, I offer the following microscopic musing on the price of gold and the value of the dollar. The price of an ounce of gold in London on Friday afternoon (the “P.M. fix” of August 8, 2014) was $1,309.75. The price of an ounce of gold in London one year ago Friday afternoon (the “P.M. fix” of August 8, 2013) was $1,309.00. If all one knew about the price of gold were those two data points, one might assume that the price of gold has been comfortably and reassuringly stable, changing in value against a similarly stable United States dollar by a mere six bits over an entire year.

That would be a lot like walking into Wrigley Field in the bottom of the ninth inning, seeing that the score was tied 0-0, knowing nothing about pitchers’ duels or the finesse that goes into fielding, and saying to oneself, “Oh,  I haven’t missed anything.”

In fact, gold had been on a steep dive downward before arriving at that $1,309.00 price per ounce a year ago.  For example, just seven months earlier, on January 8, 2013, the price of an ounce at the London afternoon fixing had been $1,657.75.  The price dropped $348.75, or a little more than 21 percent, in those seven months.

Meanwhile, in the first seven months of this year, gold has risen from a price per ounce in London on the afternoon of January 8, 2014, of $1,221.00. In short, prior to 2014, gold had been diving and the dollar soaring;  during this year gold has risen slightly while the dollar has been on a gildepath downward. The volatility has been remarkable.  Seven months ago the year-to-year price differential was nearly $350.00.  Yesterday the year-to-year differential was just under a buck.

Whether the price of gold is seen as a measurement of the value of a precious metal or as a report card on the economic, monetary, and fiscal policies that go into determining the value of the dollar, it’s interesting to think about what the trends, short-term and long-term, may mean.

When I was a university student — that is, looking back at a point in my adult lifetime when many memories still seem quite fresh — prior to the time when Richard Nixon, abandoning conservative principle and traditional Republican orientations, imposed wage and price controls and closed the gold window, the fixed price of an ounce of gold was $35.00.

I note, as well, that the standard unit in which the world measures the value of gold, more than 40 years after the demise of “Bretton Woods”, is still the U.S. dollar.  One wonders whether or not, and when, that is destined to change, too.

[Note:  At the time of the Bretton Woods Conference in 1944, Joseph A. Morris was several years from being born.  In 1971, when President Nixon "closed" the "gold window", Morris was an undergraduate at The University of Chicago and Chairman of Students for Capitalism and Freedom (whose faculty advisor was Milton Friedman).  Today Morris consults on a variety of legal, economic, and policy matters and observes that, as Gresham said of money, bad advice drives out good.]
Categories: On the Blog

Heartland Daily Podcast: How to Opt Out of Obamacare

August 11, 2014, 7:29 AM

On August 6, author and health care policy expert Sean Parnell took part in Heartland’s Author Series to discusses his new book The Self-Pay Patient: Affordable Healthcare Choices in the Age of Obamacare.

The Self-Pay Patient reveals secrets to taking control of both your healthcare and your health costs, explaining how to find affordable care outside of conventional insurance, how to escape bureaucratic medicine, and how to opt-out of Obamacare. It was one of the most lively audience discussions in recent memory for our author series.

After his presenation, Sean sat down with Heartland Institute Director or Communications Jim Lakely for a podcast to discuss his book. In this podcast, Sean and Jim discussed:

* How one could opt out of Obamacare, with practical tips about how to make it happen

* How to find health care providers who have also opted out of Obamacare

* Why this is a better option than participating in government health care.

And much more. Listen via the player above.

Subscribe to the Heartland Daily Podcast free at this link.

Categories: On the Blog

DONT MISS THIS: Michelle Malkin, Joe Walsh Headlining Heartland’s Benefit Dinner Sept. 12

August 10, 2014, 11:10 AM

The Heartland Institute is proud to announce Michelle Malkin as the keynote speaker at our 30th Anniversary Benefit on September 12, 2014. Save the date — and reserve your table or tickets now so you don’t miss out on this exciting evening for liberty!

Michelle is a New York Times best-selling author, nationally syndicated columnist, wildly successful digital entrepreneur, and Tea Party champion. She was there at the beginning, amplifying what the mainstream media still doesn’t understand about the Tea Party — that it began and remains the most patriotic, bottom-up, truly grassroots movement to restore Constitutional principles our country has seen in generations.

She will be joined at Heartland’s 30th anniversary gala by our Master of Ceremonies, The Hon. Joe Walsh. Joe was the greatest champion the Tea Party ever had in Congress. He lived his small-government principles by refusing to accept his taxpayer-funded Congressional health benefits and sleeping in his office. Joe will bring to Heartland’s event the same energy and enthusiasm for liberty he displays every night on the radio in Chicago at AM 560 The Answer.

The Heartland Institute is most honored by the opportunity to award its 2014 Liberty Prize to M. Stanton Evans — the legendary conservative journalist and global champion of liberty. He studied under Ludwig von Mises at New York University, and went on to join the staff of William F. Buckley’s fledgling National Review (where he served as associate editor from 1960 to 1973). He later became managing editor of Human Events, where he is currently a contributing editor.

Evans was present at Great Elm, the Buckley family home, at the founding of Young Americans for Freedom — where on September 11, 1960, he drafted YAF’s charter, the Sharon Statement. Many conservatives still revere this document as a concise statement of their principles. He became a proponent of National Review co-editor Frank Meyer’s “fusionism,” a political philosophy reconciling the traditionalist and libertarian tendencies of the conservative movement.

You won’t want to miss this night of good food and drink, great speakers, and excellent fellowship and networking opportunities with fellow lovers of liberty — especially as the 2014 midterm elections draw near. Individual tickets are just $49, but it is best to purchase a table for your Tea Party or non-profit group at a an early-bird discount rate. Visit Heartland’s Benefit Site for more information.

See you there!

Categories: On the Blog

Welcome to the New Space Age

August 10, 2014, 9:00 AM

Penn Jillette, the world-famous magician (and fellow of the Cato Institute), has a saying: “Everybody got a gris-gris.” By that, Jillette means everyone has some irrational belief or superstition, something one believes even when knowing it is an unreasonable. We carry these superstitions through life like talismans, and we defend them when confronted with the cold light of reason. My gris-gris is NASA.

I love space exploration and the agency that has been at the forefront of it. NASA holds a deep romantic appeal to me. But I know I really shouldn’t love NASA.

NASA is a bloated, outdated, inefficient, and often incompetent organization, an atavism of 1960s government “big science” that served to balloon federal spending for what has been comparatively minor benefits. NASA has been on something of a downward spiral since the great triumph of the Apollo 11 moon landing. Sure, we’ve launched more satellites and we have a working space station, but all of our progress in the field of manned space flight has been chronically slow and disappointingly ineffectual.

George W. Bush tried to get America interested in space again by promising a manned Mars mission by 2020. Unfortunately, neither he nor NASA had a clear plan for how to accomplish the feat. President Obama has continued, somewhat inattentively, to support the plan. However, the chances of NASA sending humans to Mars seem dim, as The Economist reported this week:

“In June a non-partisan committee heaving with experts—among them astrophysicists, a space-shuttle commander and Mitch Daniels, a former White House budget chief and Republican governor of Indiana—issued a crushing verdict on NASA’s plans to put humans on Mars. After 18 months of study, their National Research Council (NRC) report found the project unsafe, underfunded and doomed to fail in its current form.”

It is really hard to continue to love NASA when reports like the NRC’s come out. Apparently the agency was just going to continue to chug along with its doomed plan until someone told them to stop. That blind momentum represents all that is wrong with big government projects of all stripes. It is tragic that our space program, and America’s (and the world’s) dreams of voyaging out into our solar system, should be held hostage by the incompetence of bureaucracy and institutional rot.

There has been some good news in the last few years, however: We may not even need NASA to reach for the stars. For decades, NASA had a special place because the technical expertise and funding requirements made a private sector alternative virtually impossible. That has begun to change. A number of visionary firms have begun investing heavily in private space flight. Virgin Galactic, an offshoot of eccentric entrepreneur Richard Branson’s Virgin Group, has been testing their commercial spaceflight vessels since 2012 and plans to begin service this year. The Orbital Science Corp. has already begun unmanned deliveries of supplies to the International Space Station (ISS). SpaceX, the brainchild of businessman and futurist Elon Musk, is also developing private spaceflight, having already had a successful rendezvous with the ISS. SpaceX announced this week that it will be building a new launch facility in Brownsville, Texas.

NASA has already partnered with some of these businesses to replace purely government-run space travel. That is a very promising turn of affairs. As it seems like the American government (and the governments of the other wealthy nations) will be unable to lead humanity into space, it is probably a good thing that it favors the private sector picking up the slack.

There is a real majesty in space exploration. We live on a small world in a corner of the Milky Way. There is so much more out there to see and discover. I think Carl Sagan offers one of the most moving descriptions of that sentiment:

“In the last few millennia we have made the most astonishing and unexpected discoveries about the Cosmos and our place within it, explorations that are exhilarating to consider. They remind us that humans have evolved to wonder, that understanding is a joy, that knowledge is prerequisite to survival. I believe our future depends powerfully on how well we understand this Cosmos in which we float like a mote of dust in the morning sky.”

Truly, there can be no nobler endeavor than expanding not only human understanding, but also the potential for humanity’s very survival. We live in a dangerous universe, one that has occasionally treated our Earth cruelly. It seems unthinkable that our species could allow itself to be trapped on this one world, the fate of which could be determined by a single cosmic event, be it a solar flare or massive asteroid impact. Our universe is a beautiful and mysterious place, but it is also a dangerous one. We must as a species look outward to secure our future. For all we know, ours may be the only species to have attained sentience. Certainly it must be a rare occurrence, given the inhospitableness of so much of the universe. That sentience is what makes us so special; to borrow from Sagan once more, humanity is “a way to know itself.”

Space exploration, whether private or state-run, remains a crude enterprise. But the advent of private firms competing to reach the heavens is a positive step toward attaining the stars. The endeavor is a critical one, one that has been ill-served by NASA.

I may be able to shake my love of NASA, but I will never lose my love of spaceflight.

Categories: On the Blog

Heartland Institute E-Cigarette Experts Submit Comments to Food and Drug Administration

August 09, 2014, 11:15 PM

Friday, August 8 marked the end of the comment period for a proposed rulemaking by the Food and Drug Administration to classify electronic cigarettes as the equivalent of combustible tobacco cigarettes. The proposed rule would ban the sale of e-cigarettes to minors, require FDA approval of the products, and require manufacturers to disclose the chemicals used in the nicotine delivery devices – which replace cigarette smoke with vapor – and note on product labels that nicotine can be addictive.

The following statements from tobacco and e-cigarette policy experts at The Heartland Institute – a free-market think tank – may be used for attribution.

“The FDA’s proposed regulation would decimate the small businesses that make up America’s independent e-cigarette industry and remove a powerful tool smokers are using to kick the habit. Congress never intended for the regulations it crafted for cigarettes and smokeless tobacco to apply to innovative tobacco-free products. The FDA has the authority to propose alternate regulation for e-cigarettes that wouldn’t ban 99 percent of the products. They should do so for the betterment of public health.”

Greg Conley
Research Fellow, Tobacco Policy
The Heartland Institute
gconley@heartland.org

 

“In my submission, I explain why the FDA should use its statutorily granted discretion in setting a grandfather date for e-cigarettes to the effective date of the proposed rule, or, at earliest, as the date the proposed rule was published.

“The agency’s attempt to incorrectly set the grandfather date for newly deemed e-cigarettes to February 15, 2007 is a failure to exercise its statutorily granted flexible enforcement authority, as well as a failure to implement the statute’s call for appropriate regulatory controls. As a result of the agency’s misapplication of the statute, the FDA’s proposed rule would have the unintended consequence of harming public health by failing to provide effective oversight of industry’s effort to develop, introduce, and promote less harmful tobacco products.

“Ironically, in claiming to implement the statute by adhering to the wrong grandfather date, the agency would be failing to enforce the statute and would harm public health in the process.”

Jeff Stier
Senior Fellow, National Center for Public Policy Research
Policy Advisor, The Heartland Institute
jeffstier@gmail.com 

Categories: On the Blog

Iron Man: The Ultimate Capitalist Fantasy

August 09, 2014, 9:00 AM

It is a rare occurrence when Hollywood produces a film that neither glorifies the welfare-warfare state, nor vilifies capitalists and businessmen. Yet that is exactly what Marvel Studios has managed with the Iron Man series. In the character of Tony Stark we see the pinnacle of the capitalist fantasy: an ingenious businessman who values property rights and self-defense, and who does not compromise those fundamental rights in the face of government intimidation and force.

Iron Man is the ultimate superhero for the advocates of the free market.

Intellectual Property

In the second film in the series, Tony Stark is forced to appear before a Senate committee seeking to confiscate the Iron Man suit for the sake of national security. Stark rejects the edicts of the government, walking out on the committee while claiming to have “privatized world peace” (more on that later).

The character of Tony Stark is an intractable opponent of government overreach. He demands that he be left alone with his own invention, without the meddling of the state. The beauty of the film is that it creates a remarkably sympathetic portrayal of Stark’s position, something very rarely done in films of this kind. It is a testament to Marvel’s willingness to push boundaries that they would approve a storyline that tears down the government and the misguided notion that property rights are optional when the government is involved.

The power of the free market is further defended in the film by comparing Tony Stark’s Iron Man technology to the government subsidized Hammer Industries. Hammer’s armor is buggy, grotesque, and ineffective. The comparison between it and Stark’s Iron Man armor offers a potent parable on the wastefulness and worthlessness of government intervention into business.

Armed Society, Free Society

Iron Man does not blanch from the twin topics of the right to bear arms and the disparity of arms between citizens and government. On the issue of armament itself, the films are unequivocally in favor of people’s right to defend themselves with weapons. The Iron Man suit represents the ultimate advancement of individual protective and defensive technology: virtually indestructible and capable of going toe-to-toe with most conventional military forces and equipment. It is that access to a new kind of “great equalizer” that will usher in the era of privatized world peace of which Stark speaks.

Imagine a world in which the government is unable to enact its will through force and physical coercion, a world in which all citizens have the capacity to defend themselves from any harm that might confront them. That would represent a fundamental shift in the relationship between citizen and state, one perhaps more akin to the power relationship that persisted in the early American republic when armaments between citizen and military were virtually at parity.

The future implied by Iron Man is a pleasantly optimistic one. It is one that respects property, individual freedom, and a more reasonable relationship between citizen and state.

Waiting for Tomorrow

Unfortunately, technology like the Iron Man suit appears to be a long way off yet. The federal government still wields a massively disparate military power relative to the citizenry. But it is valuable to imagine the future we want to see and to visualize ways we might get there.

It has become a matter of conventional wisdom that citizens, whether armed or not, are no match for the government (which, perversely, has been used from time to time as a justification for greater restrictions on owning weapons). Whether true or not, the status quo need not be static. The free market usually finds a way to meet demand. There is reason to be optimistic it will do so here, though the solution may not be as cool as Iron Man armor.

Categories: On the Blog

Extraordinary Irresponsibility

August 09, 2014, 8:13 AM

In yet another uninspiring performance by our unengaged and unengaging president, this time a press conference at the end of a three-day U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit in Washington, D.C., Barack Obama discussed, among other things, the ceasefire between Israel and Hamas which, according to The One, “we” have achieved.

It’s not entirely clear just how “we,” meaning the president, his feckless Secretary of State John Kerry, and his utterly incompetent foreign policy team (but at least they’re loyal — the most important characteristic for employees of any petty dictator), helped achieve anything other than the emboldening of Hamas, which led to the death of many more of Hamas’ human shields. Obama further asked how “we build on this temporary cessation of violence.”

It is unclear whether Hamas will go along with Israel’s offer to extend the ceasefire beyond its original 72 hours, which will determine how they who are actually fighting might or might not “build on” anything. As for what “we” might do, well, Martha’s Vineyard is very nice this time of year.

Showing his further detachment from reality on the subject — or more likely his ingrained anti-Israeli bias — Obama claimed (twice!) “I have no sympathy for Hamas.”

Well, isn’t that special?

The nominal leader of the free world needs to tell us (twice!) that he doesn’t feel sympathy toward a universally-acknowledged terrorist organization that is bringing intentional death and mayhem on the citizens who gullibly elected them. (We Americans, suffering through a second Obama term, know how gullible voters can be.)

But wait, there’s more! The president also generously offered that Hamas has acted “extraordinarily irresponsibly.” As Ron Fournier, no right-winger he, put it, “Frat boys are extraordinarily irresponsible. Hamas is a terrorist organization that’s killing people. Words matter when you’re trying to lead a country and trying to lead a world. I’m stunned by how poorly he uses them.”

The president, about to head off to another extended vacation in another multi-million dollar home (because the $7 million home he stayed in on Martha’s Vineyard last summer wasn’t fancy enough), made one thing extraordinarily clear: Vladimir Putin, Hamas, even the Ebola virus, are annoying little distractions against the real enemy: the Republican Party. And therefore, it is an unmistakable sign to Putin, to fanatical Islamists, and would be to Ebola if it were smarter than Rep. Hank “Guam Might Tip Over” Johnson (D-CA) — normally an easy hurdle for almost any life form — that bad behavior will go unpunished, at least unless that bad behavior involves sneaking across our border.

Speaking of sneaking across the border, Walgreens, the well-known pharmacy and retailer, announced Tuesday that it would buy the rest of the Swiss company Alliance Boots — which is in substantially the same business — but that, unlike many other recent “tax inversions,” Walgreens would keep their corporate headquarters and therefore their tax jurisdiction in the United States.

Walgreens caved in to two things: Fear that the left would stoke backlash against the company if it moved its tax domicile and fear that politicians would allow and instruct the IRS to move aggressively to disallow tax benefits from these completely legal transactions.

Those tax benefits, which many investors were anticipating, were estimated at a few hundred million dollars a year, or nearly 15 percent of the company’s current gross profit. And thus, markets often demonstrating a rather mathematical nature, Walgreens’ stock plunged by just over 14 percent on Wednesday, showing not just investor dissatisfaction with the decision but perhaps also concern about the quality of the company’s management.

One can’t entirely blame WAG’s directors for not wanting to take on a lawless administration that has proven itself willing and able to use the power of government to attack its political enemies.

Treasury Secretary Jack Lew has demanded a “new sense of economic patriotism,” terminology that the president has also used. And loyal leftist lapdog Jonathan Alter recently penned a truly disturbing piece entitled, “The United States Needs Corporate ‘Loyalty Oaths.’”

Alter, who admits that “oaths and pledges are a little creepy,” nevertheless urges companies to sign “non-desertion agreements” that they must honor if they are to be eligible for federal contracts, not to mention the tremendous reward of “a tiny American flag or some other Good Housekeeping-type seal in their corporate insignia for all to see.”

I wonder if Alter realizes the many thousands of American jobs that would disappear along with all of that income tax, sales tax, and property tax revenue, if his moronic and un-American idea were to take hold. Actually, I don’t wonder. Alter is the poster child for Bastiat’s paradigm of the bad economist who is completely unable to conceive of the secondary impacts of a policy. But among liberal pundits, that doesn’t make him unusual.

Speaking of bad ideas, Colorado Democrats are just full of them. Vulnerable Senator Mark Udall (D-War on Women) released an ad saying that his Republican challenger, Congressman Cory Gardner, “would ban birth control.” I predicted last month that due to the demise of immigration (and tangentially of race) as a trump card for Democrats in 2014, the “War on Women” is all they have left — especially for someone like Mark Udall who has accomplished precisely nothing during his time in the U.S. Senate (though I did appreciate his standing up against NSA spying on Americans). Udall is proving me right very quickly. Watch the ad and consider my July prediction: “And that’s why this campaign will be all contraception all the time, with sprinkles of rape thrown in for added spice.”

One wonders whether Colorado’s women are stupid enough to believe a claim as outlandish as Udall’s. Frankly, I’m unsure of the answer, not least because many “low information voters” remember the at least superficially “anti-woman” and undoubtedly ignorant gaffes of Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock that ended those men’s quests for higher office.

And then there’s Congressman Jared Polis (a friend of mine despite his being a liberal Democrat from Bouder) who really stepped in it with an effort to fund ballot initiatives that would have had the impact of limiting, and in many cases banning, fracking across the state of Colorado. His efforts ended earlier this week in what can only be considered a political disaster for Polis.

My guess — Jared hasn’t told me — is that he massively miscalculated, thinking he could boost his street cred among the wacky green left without having any “equal and opposite reaction.” When the energy industry went into full gear to stop the madness, that was bad enough, but when Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper opposed the measures, it turned the whole thing into a Democratic circular firing squad — a formation usually reserved for Republicans.

Polis understands the economic benefits of fracking yet supported measures that he knew were intended to be used to ban it. The initiatives’ supporters offered protestations that they were basically minor tweaks for safety and moves toward “local control.” (Q: How do you know if a liberal is lying about local control? A: If he says he’s for it — because liberals want government as large and far away as possible.)

It was not just bad policy, potentially sacrificing thousands of jobs and billions of dollars of tax revenue at the altar of virginal Gaia, and not just base-pandering politics of the worst sort; for a smart man — which Polis certainly is — it was very poorly thought out and executed and ended up hurting just about everybody Jared normally supports or is supported by.

The “compromise” worked out between Rep. Polis and Gov. Hickenlooper — the latter roughly tied in polls against former Congressman Bob Beauprez who is taking a second shot at the governor’s race — demonstrates that “Hick” was scared to death that Polis’s ballot measures would even further energize disgusted Republicans and moderates in November. And so they have been put on ice, but not killed, with Polis suggesting that 2016 will offer a better electoral environment for harmful liberal policies.

What the compromise really does, and whether it’s binding on pro-fracking groups that have their own ballot measures ready to go, remains somewhat murky. A New York Timesreporter tweeted about the Polis-Hickenlooper presser that it was a “thing where you leave a press conference with more questions than you had before it.”

The part of the deal that is most troublesome is that Hick agreed to drop a lawsuit against the City of Longmont for passing a local fracking ban even though a judge already ruled that the ban is illegal because it conflicts with and harms the whole state’s economic and regulatory interests. The judge stayed her ruling pending appeal. One wonders where the case goes if the governor caves in on pursuing it — and whether the Republican Attorney General could proceed to defend the state even if the governor won’t, much the same way that a Republican governor in Texas is defending the state even if the president won’t.

From President Obama on down, the parade of liberals’ “extraordinary irresponsibility” is a marvel to behold. Given their total lack of accomplishment and the real harm from their many failures, despite pleas of how much “we have achieved” (or at least would have achieved without those obstructionist Republicans), in November I expect Democrats to learn from voters what the real meaning of “I have no sympathy” is.

 

[Originally published at the American Spectator]

Categories: On the Blog

Was it Something I Said, Melissa Johnson?

August 08, 2014, 3:39 PM

Apparently I offended an administrative staffer for the Booker T. Washington National Monument. Sorry!

In a recent article for Environment & Climate News, Heartland Senior Fellow James M. Taylor reports how global warming apparently is causing angry, profane outbursts among high-profile members of the media.

I’m here to report the plague affects administrative staffers for our National Monuments, as well.

Heartland recently mailed a copy of Environment & Climate News to Ms. Melissa Johnson at the Booker T. Washington National Monument. She had been added to our temporary comp mailing list as a “friend” – not sure why, but I’m looking into that. She clearly wants to be no friend of Heartland!

Here’s an exchange of email:

From: Johnson, Melissa [mailto:melissa_johnson@nps.gov]

Sent: Thursday, August 07, 2014 9:30 AM

To: Diane Bast

Subject: STOP SENDING MAIL!!

Stop sending mail to this address. This is a federal site.

Booker T. Washington NM

12130 Booker T. Washington Hwy

Hardy, VA 24101

Melissa Johnson

Administrative Support Assistant

Booker T. Washington NM

12130 Booker T. Washington Hwy

Hardy, VA 24101

Phone: (540)721-2094

Fax: (540)721-8311

From: Diane Bast [dbast@heartland.org]

Sent: 8/7/2014 9:35 am

To: Melissa Johnson

Re: STOP SENDING MAIL!!

Ummm, I would not have thought that “a federal site” cannot accept mail from a federal agency, the U.S. Postal Service.

Nevertheless, we will search our database for that address and stop sending any mail to that address.

Diane Carol Bast

Executive Editor

The Heartland Institute

One South Wacker Drive #2740

Chicago, IL 60606

Phone: 312/377-4000

Fax: 312/377-5000

www.heartland.org

From: Johnson, Melissa [melissa_johnson@nps.gov]

Sent: 8/7/2014 10:13 am

To: Diane Bast

Re: STOP SENDING MAIL!!

I do not appreciate your tone or stupidity. Why is the Executive Editor handling inquires about their mailing lists? Your unprofessionalism is clearly a reflection on the garbage you peddle. THIS IS A NATIONAL MONUMENT NOT A PERSONAL ADDRESS! See the attached document below on how the label was made out.

The address is:

Booker T. Washington NM

12130 Booker T. Washington Hwy

Hardy, VA 24101

Your mailings are considered junk mail. I will be keeping these emails for further evidence of your harassment. I know who you people are. You might want to read the following:
http://www.climatesciencewatch.org/2013/09/09/heartland-institute-nipcc-fail-the-credibility-test/

Now, I’ll admit I was a tad snarky in my original reply to Ms. Johnson. But come on: She’s the one who sent me an email with an ALL CAPS subject line! And then she complains about MY “unprofessionalism,” “tone,” and “stupidity”?

As tempting as it might be to keep Ms. Johnson on the mailing list, we’re not into wasting money at The Heartland Institute … and sending her anything presenting environment and climate issues from a sound science, common-sense perspective clearly would be a waste of money.

Categories: On the Blog

Cuomo’s Corrupted Corruption Commission

August 08, 2014, 11:43 AM

When Andrew Cuomo was elected governor of New York in 2010, he promised to root out corruption in the New York state government. He began belatedly to act on that promise in 2013 when he set up the Moreland Commission to Investigate Public Corruption. The commission quickly set about investigating corruption and government malfeasance. In one year, they had discovered evidence of potentially criminal actions by as many as 12 state lawmakers. The commission made a number of criminal referrals to federal prosecutors.

The commission’s efforts were brought to an abrupt end in March 2014, leaving many investigations unresolved. Since then it has been revealed that members of the Cuomo administration sought to influence the direction of the independent commission. This has resulted in a federal investigation into the fate of the Moreland Commission and whether Cuomo or his people acted unethically toward their own ethics commission.

Cuomo insists that his office did not put any pressure on the commission and only offered advice. However, it appears that members of his staff did indeed seek to influence the commission’s decisions. Cuomo has tried to spin the commission’s refusal to succumb to his grubby behavior as “demonstrable proof of independence.”

To add a degree of surreal comedy to the proceedings, prosecutors are also now investigating whether the Cuomo administration put pressure on former members of the Moreland Commission to issue statements that the Cuomo administration did not pressure or interfere with the commission’s investigations. Let’s get this straight then: Federal prosecutors are investigating corrupt actions by the Cuomo administration toward the corruption commission the Cuomo administration set up, as well as pressure from the Cuomo administration toward former commissioners to say that they had not been pressured. Only in New York!

Cuomo’s opponents have tried to make hay with these accusations of corruption. The likely Republican challenger for the governor’s office, Rob Astorino, has certainly tried to leverage the situation in his favor. Astorino’s spokesperson has said, “To have a sitting governor being investigated by federal prosecutors for corrupting an anti-corruption commission has certainly changed the dynamic of the race.”

Yet despite Astorino’s claims, and the growing smell of sleaze, Cuomo will likely not pay an electoral price, at least in the short term. New York’s voting public remains largely unaware of, or apathetic about, the scandal. It is fairly easy to understand public apathy when their governor shows the same level of corruption they come to expect in all their leaders. Cuomo may have been hoist with his own petard, but he continues to be the frontrunner for another term as governor. He has incumbency and advantages in organization and money that his primary and general election challengers will have a tough time to overcome.

But while he may not pay a price at the ballot box, he may pay a legal one. A federal investigation is no laughing matter, and Cuomo’s administration could be hampered by subpoenas and even criminal prosecutions. That would certainly be a dramatic fate to an administration that swept into office promising to overhaul the venal and corrupt nature of New York politics. If anything, Cuomo has succeeded only in reinforcing the perception that politicians consider themselves above the law and only pursue corruption investigations when they will damage their enemies.

Cuomo may face some longer-term political consequences. Just as Chris Christie’s 2016 hopes were dented by Bridgegate, so too will an ongoing federal investigation into corruption likely scupper any hopes Cuomo might have had for making a dash for the White House. The utter shamelessness of Cuomo’s behavior may be just too much for even the jaded American public to stomach.

Categories: On the Blog

It’s about the Money, Not the Climate

August 08, 2014, 9:27 AM

Oscar Wilde (1854-1900), the Irish poet and dramatist, wrote “Pray don’t talk to me about the weather. Whenever people talk to me about the weather, I always feel quite certain that they mean something else.”

These days, when some world leader or politician speaks of the climate—the weather is what is happening right now wherever you are—they are not talking about sunshine or rain. They are talking about a devilishly obscene way of raising money by claiming that it is humans that are threatening the climate with everything they do, from turning on the lights to driving anywhere.

That’s why “global warming” was invented in the late 1980s as an immense threat to the Earth and to mankind. Never mind that Earth has routinely passed through warmer and cooler cycles for billions of years; much of which occurred before mankind emerged. And never mind that the Earth has been a distinct cooling cycle for the past seventeen years and likely to stay in it for a while. If the history of ice ages is any guide, we could literally be on the cusp of a new one.

If, however, a government can tax the use of energy, it stands to make a lot of money. That is why carbon taxes have been introduced in some nations and why the nearly useless “clean energy” options of wind and solar have been introduced even though they both require the backup of traditional coal, natural gas and nuclear energy plants because they cannot produce electricity if the wind isn’t blowing and the sun is obscured by clouds.

Taxing energy use means taxing “greenhouse gas” emissions; primarily carbon dioxide (C02) so that every ton of it added to the atmosphere by a power plant and any other commercial activity becomes a source of income for the nation. The Australians went through this and rapidly discovered it drove up their cost of electricity and negatively affected their economy so much that they rid themselves of a prime minister and the tax within the past year.

Fortunately, every effort to introduce a carbon tax has been defeated by the U.S. Congress, but that it has shelled out billions for “climate research” over the years. That doesn’t mean, however, that 41 demented Democrats in the House of Representatives haven’t gotten together in a “Safe Climate Caucus” led by Rep. Henry A. Waxman. The Washington Post reported that when it was launched in February 2013, the members promised to talk every day on the House floor about “the urgent need to address climate change.”

Check out the caucus and, if your Representative is a member, vote to replace him or her with someone less idiotic.

When you hear the President or a member of Congress talk about the climate, they are really talking about the scheme to generate revenue from it through taxation or to raise money from those who will personally benefit from any scheme related to the climate such as “clean energy.”

The need of governments to frighten their citizens about the climate in order to raise money is international in scope. A United States that has a $17 trillion debt is a prime example, much of it due to a government grown so large it wastes taxpayer’s money in the millions with every passing day whether it is sunny or rainy, warm or cold.

In late July, Reuters reported that Christine Lagarde, the chair of theInternational Monetary Fund, (IMF) opined in her new book that “energy taxes in much of the world are far below what they should be to reflect the harmful environmental and health impact of fossil fuels use.”

Please pay no attention to the billions of dollars that coal, oil and natural gas already generate for the nations in which they are found. Nations such as India and China are building coal-fired plants as fast as possible to provide the electricity every modern nation needs to expand its economy, provide more employment, and improve their citizen’s lives in every way imaginable.

“For the first time,” Reuters reported, “the IMF laid out exactly what it views as appropriate taxes on coal, natural gas, gasoline, and diesel in 156 countries to factor in the fuel’s overall costs, which include carbon dioxide emissions, air pollution, congestion and traffic accidents.” The problem with this is that the costs cited are bogus.

“Nations,” said Lagarde, “are now working on a United Nations deal for late 2015 to rein in greenhouse gas emissions that have hit repeated highs this century, but progress has been slow as nations fret about the impact any measures may have on economic growth.” As in bad impacts!

Ignore the claims that carbon dioxide affects the climate. Its role is so small it can barely be measured because CO2 represents 380 parts per million. When our primate ancestors began to climb down out of the trees, CO2 levels were about 1,000 parts per million. More CO2 means more crops, healthy growing forests, and all the other benefits that every form of vegetation provides. The breath we humans exhale contains about 4% of CO2.

The fact is that the United States and other nations are being run by politicians who are incapable of reducing spending or borrowing more in order to spend more. Venezuela just defaulted again on the payment of bonds it issued to raise money. They did this in 2001 and one must wonder why any financial institution purchases them.

There are eleven other nations whose credit ratings are flirting with big trouble. They include Greece, Ukraine, Pakistan, Cypress, and in the Americas Argentina, Venezuela, Cuba, Ecuador and Belize. Borrowing by such nations is very expensive. A U.S. Treasury Note pays an annual coupon of just 2.5%, but the yields on 10-year bonds issue by Greece reached 29% in early 2012, just before it defaulted.

Adding to problems in the U.S. is the Obama agenda being acted upon by the Environmental Protection Agency whose “war on coal” has shuttered several hundred plants that produce the electricity needed to maintain the economy. In coal producing states this is playing havoc and it is driving up the cost of electricity in others.

The growth of oil and natural gas production in the U.S. is almost entirely on privately owned land as opposed to that controlled by the government. Supporting the attack on energy are the multi-million dollar environmental organizations like Friends of the Earth and the Sierra Club.

There is no “global warming” and the climate is determined by the Sun, the oceans, clouds, and volcanic activity. Nothing any government does, here and worldwide, has any impact on it, but if nations can demonize the use of energy and tax the CO2 it produces, they can generate more money to spend and waste.

The lies that governments, the United Nations, and the International Monetary Fund tell about the climate are about the money they can extract from citizens who must be kept frightened enough to pay taxes on their use of energy.

© Alan Caruba, 2014

 

[Originally published at Warning Signs]

Categories: On the Blog

Obama’s “Most Transparent White House” Lambasted by Independent Watchdogs

August 08, 2014, 9:00 AM

President Obama came into office promising the most open White House in American history. He went back on that promise almost immediately, refusing to cooperate with oversight organizations and stonewalling the press. Jay Carney, Obama’s press secretary from 2011 to 2014, dodged questions nearly 10 thousand times during his tenure. Brianna Keilar, a CNN reporter, as said of the White House that “anyone here can tell there’s less access than under the Bush administration.” When even Obama’s fawning press corps is fed up, you know something is going on.

This week, Obama’s lack of transparency received some of its most vocal criticism to date.  In an open letter to congressional leaders, 47 of the government’s 73 inspectors-general (independent watchdogs) stated that they were unable to effectively perform their duties due to obstructive behavior and lack of cooperation in many federal agencies. Agencies from the EPA to the Peace Corps have dragged their feet or been unwilling to comply with requests for documents, claiming the contents of documents to be “privileged.” This has resulted in frustration among the independent watchdogs, which have been prevented from fulfilling their legally mandated duty.

The letter stated:

“Agency actions that limit, condition, or delay access thus have profoundly negative consequences for our work: they make us less effective, encourage other agencies to take similar actions in the future, and erode the morale of the dedicated professionals that make up our staffs.”

This sordid tale is just the latest chapter in the story of the Obama administration’s contempt for the rules that circumscribe and constrain executive power. It seems to be the chief belief of Obama that he and his people have all the answers and the need to compromise with Congress or to comply with laws and regulations are simply a nuisance to be gotten around. It is that attitude and the dangerous behavior that grows out of it that has made the Obama administration so much more onerous than past administrations.

It is that attitude and the above-the-law behavior springing from it that Obama’s critics are concerned about. It is not a matter of the mere number of executive orders he issues (as much as the left would like to conflate the exercise of executive power with quantity of executive orders), nor even what the orders he does issue entail. It is a matter of the broader application of contempt for the process of government and government oversight that has made Obama’s presidency so caustic to the republican traditions of the United States.

The open letter from the inspectors-general is a heartening development. It shows that, despite the administration’s obfuscating and impeding, the watchdogs still have some bite. It is high time Obama and his cronies were brought to heel.

Categories: On the Blog

Government “Help” Makes Nutrition Worse: Fats

August 08, 2014, 8:51 AM

For a half century the idea that saturated fat in foods raises cholesterol and, consequently, causes heart attacks was dogma ostensibly justifying government regulation.  The attacks on dietary fat have increased in recent years due to the “war on obesity.”  But a new book based on nearly ten years of research has fired a devastating salvo in defense of this designated dietary enemy.  The Big Fat Surprise: Why Butter, Meat and Cheese Belong in a Healthy Diet by Nina Teicholz traces the origin of the fat myth from its faulty scientific beginning to its discrediting.

Teicholz notes the Inuit people in the Arctic, who got 70 – 80% of their calories from fat and ate no plants, showed no signs of cancer, diabetes, heart disease or hypertension.  In another intriguing study   Maasai warriors in Kenya, who ate only blood, meat and milk when they were studied in early the 1960s, had no heart disease or high cholesterol.

The alarming myth about fat was originated by Dr. Ancel Keys, for which he was even honored by being on the cover of Time magazine in 1961.  That was the year he landed a position on the nutrition committee of the American Heart Association, the same year the AHA issued the first guidelines targeting saturated fats.  Keys violated several scientific norms in his research, but some of these weren’t revealed until 2002 by later researchers.  It turns out that from the 655 men he originally selected as a representative sample, he used just 33 from Crete and 34 from Corfu as the basis for the entire revolution of our diet.  He also kept to himself for 16 years the results of a 9,000-patient coronary survey because it failed to find cutting saturated fat reduced the risk of heart disease.  Though advocating limiting a diet to 7% saturated fat, Keys ate chops, roasts and steaks three time a week and lived to be 100.

While our ingestion of saturated fats has dropped 11% since the early 1970s, we eat at least 25% more carbohydrates—including 50% more grains.  Teicholz explains:

Instead of meat, eggs and cheese, we’re eating more pasta, grains, fruit and starchy vegetables…The problem is that carbohydrates break down into glucose, which causes the body to release insulin—a hormone that is fantastically efficient at storing fat.  Meanwhile, fructose, the main sugar in fruit, causes the liver to generate triglycerides and other lipids in the blood that are altogether bad news.  Excessive carbohydrates lead not only to obesity but also, over time, to Type 2 diabetes and, very likely, heart disease

In 1961 the AHA advised switching to vegetable oils for a “healthy heart.” Today these oils are 7% to 8% of our daily calories, compared to nearly zero in 1900.  But these were found to create not only higher cancer rates but gallstones.  It was also known since the 1940s that when heated, vegetable oils create oxidation products that lead to cirrhosis of the liver and early death in animal experiments.  To counter these concerns, vegetable oils were hydrogenated, a process of adding hydrogen that turns the oils from liquids into solids and also retards spoilage.

Unfortunately, hydrogenation also produced trans fats, which were condemned by the FDA and many European countries for raising the levels of “bad” LDL cholesterol.  This led some restaurants and food manufacturers to return to using liquid oils, which had long-standing problems with oxidation.  Worse, more recent research had implicated oxidation in a “sizable body of evidence…to heart disease and other illnesses such as Alzheimer’s.”

In addition to Teicholz’s work, researchers at Purdue University studied the relationship between fats and absorption of carotenoids, such as lutein, lycopene and beta-carotene.  These are disease-fighting nutrients that slash the risk of cancer and heart disease, safeguard bone density, prevent macular degeneration, and soak up damaging compounds.  The researchers served veggie salads topped with various types of salad dressing to participants who were then tested for absorption of carotenoids.  Result: salads with the most fat—20 grams—yielded the highest absorption of these nutrients.  This study was not just of saturated fats but included monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats.  Canola oil (a monounsaturated oil) had the best absorption rates of lutein and beta-carotene, but the researchers said the type of oil “had less impact on the absorption of carotenoids than amount .”

So it’s about time for the myths about fats, particularly saturated fats, to die—and also the myths about government regulation of our foods being necessary and effective.  How could the U.S. government be so wrong about such a major issue for a half century? Teicholz notes that problems with vegetable oils were known back in the 1940s; that Keys’ research had major errors; that a half-dozen large important trials from the 1970s had major methodological problems and were “unreliable at best;” and “even back then, other scientists were warning about the [Keys] diet’s potential unintended consequences.”

After the American Heart Association targeted saturated fats, the USDA apparently accepted the AHA’s recommendation without examining the validity of Keys’ research—for which he had received a massive grant from the U.S. government—or other dubious research.  It also ignored skeptics’ warnings from, among others, the National Academy of Sciences.

Keys himself was likely instrumental in the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s approval in 1980 because of his governmental connections.  Teicholz notes he had quickly developed important alliances with the National Institutes of Health, politicians on Capitol Hill, and the USDA itself.  Harvard professor Mark Hegsted successfully persuaded the U.S. Senate to recommend Keys’ diet to the entire nation.  In 1977 he said the question wasn’t whether Americans should change their diet, but why not?  He told the Senate no risks could be identified.  In a nutshell, that’s how bad science became bad federal policy for a half century.

Obviously, the American people would have been better off if the government had never gotten into this issue.  And it never should have because there is nothing in the U.S. Constitution that gives the  federal government any authority over food.  Franklin Roosevelt’s administration attempted to control agriculture with its Agricultural Adjustment Act, under the Constitution’s “general welfare” clause, but the Supreme Court struck that down.  A second attempt was made under the federal power to regulate interstate commerce.  In Wickard v. Filburn, a farmer had planted 23 acres of wheat although the government had allotted him only eleven.  He was fined for growing the excess even though the grain was never marketed.  It was consumed by livestock on his own property.  There was no commerce, much less interstate commerce.  Yet the Supreme Court ruled that if he had not fed the wheat to his stock, he might had bought feed, and that feed, even if locally produced, might have affected the price of other wheat in interstate commerce.  Therefore, the federal government’s intervention in agriculture here was “justified” by its authority to regulate interstate commerce.

That farfetched, contorted decision was the basis for subsequent expansion of the USDA into food and nutrition programs, such as school lunches and food stamps.  Furthermore, that empowerment was not limited to the USDA but extended to other federal agencies.  According to the Government Accountability Office, the federal government in 2009 had six different agencies operating “about” 26 separate food and nutrition programs in the U.S.

In our next posting we shall discuss how, just as with fats, government policies on school lunches are based on bad science and have led to inferior nutrition.  The nation would have been healthier without these programs, but the myth still persists that they are necessary and generally effective.  Major mistakes—even those enduring for decades—are dismissed as rare or inconsequential when policies and programs are determined by good intentions rather than principles or actual results.  As Milton Friedman pointed out, “Underlying most arguments against the free market is a lack of belief in freedom itself.”  It always seems to be a winning argument—though unjustified by results—that somehow government coercion in the economy will be more effective than its absence.  And if that doesn’t work, just try more of the same: bigger programs, more government-sponsored research, larger penalties for violations, etc., all in the name of “better” regulation.  In truth, the solution is not a “better” government economic program but none at all.  The best outcome results from people freely exercising their rights to life, liberty and property and not being forced by government to do anything.  It’s where all interactions are by mutual consent to mutual benefit.  That is the only economic principle appropriate for a nation of free people.  It is the only system consistent with the principle of liberty.  That’s why when our Founders wrote the Constitution, they did not delegate any economic authority to the federal government.

Categories: On the Blog

Maryland Rules Uber is a Common Carrier – Will FCC Agree?

August 08, 2014, 8:41 AM

The Daily Record reports that the Maryland Public Service Commission ruled that Uber is a common carrier subject to its regulatory jurisdiction.

The PSC stated:

“[W]hen viewed in their totality, the undisputed facts and circumstances in this case make it clear that Uber is engaged in the public transportation of persons for hire. Thus, Uber is a common carrier and a public service company over whom the Commission has jurisdiction…

In 60 days, PSC will draft “new regulations that protect the public interest,but also reflect the evolving nature of transportation services like Uber.”

Uber has threatened to leave the state if Uber is treated the same as their regulated taxi and transportation-for-hire competitors are under Maryland law.

Relevance to FCC Open Internet Order

This PSC precedent has big relevance and implications for the FCC’s high-profile redo of its Open Internet Order.

Both Uber and Lyft are online transportation network companies and members of the Internet Association, which recently filed comments with the FCC in the Open Internet order proceeding.

The Internet Association opposes the current FCC proposal to use the “commercially reasonable” standard that the DC Court of Appeals indicated would pass legal muster. Itrecommends that the FCC’s Open Internet “Rules Should Prohibit Broadband Internet Access Providers from Charging For Enhanced or Prioritized Access.”

This means Uber and Lyft are recommending to the FCC that it treat ISPs like common carriers in direct contravention of the D.C. Court of Appeals decision in Verizon v. FCC.

That decision explicitly said:

In other words, but for the Open Internet Order, broadband providers could freely impose conditions on the nature and quality of the service they furnish edge providers, potentially turning certain edge providers—currently able to “hire” their service for free—into paying customers. The Commission may not claim that the Open Internet Order imposes no common carrier obligations simply because it compels an entity to continue furnishing service at no cost.”

Uber, Lyft and the Internet Association are advocating that the FCC should regulate the ISPs like what the Court views as common carriers, by discriminating against ISP information-service-providers in favor of edge information-service-provider networks.

To date the Internet Association and its members have imagined that they provide no services that could be ruled by state, Federal or foreign regulators to be common carrier regulated services. This Maryland PSC ruling is stark evidence that their core political assumption of perfect immunity from common carrier regulation is fantasy.

Let me be crystal clear, I am not advocating Uber and Lyft be subject to common carrier regulation. What I am advocating for is equal treatment under the law and a level playing field, where public policy treats every business in the Internet ecosystem in a consistent manner, so every business participant has the freedom to innovate and invest without ex ante regulation.

The Internet Association’s implicit current call for aggressive regulatory discrimination — to discriminate in favor of their “edge” business models and against ISPs’ models, not on the basis of market power or any evidence of market or consumer harm– is wrong and obviously self-serving. It is classic regulatory hypocrisy and the double standard enshrined in the well-known phrase: “Regulate thee but not me.”

While the Internet Association claims their approach is ‘light touch’ that is deceptive and inaccurate. The Internet Association is calling for a permanent zero-price for all Internet downstream traffic so their business gets free Internet service at the direct expense of Internet users that must implicitly pay most all of the Big Internet companies’ big bandwidth bill.

No matter how much the Internet Association aristechracy imagines that they are special, and that they enjoy a special political exemption from the Constitution, law and regulations, that remains fantasy and wishful thinking… at least for now.

The Maryland PSC decision that Uber is a common carrier is a real world reminder that outside of the Big Internet’s powerful aristechratic sphere-of-influence, there can be equal treatment under the law.

In closing, will the FCC want to open the Title II can-of-worms, and threaten the entire Internet ecosystem with the potential virus of common-carrier obligations, when they know they cannot control how an FCC title II broadband decision would ultimately apply, because the courts, states, and foreign regulators will all have their legal say in what the boundaries of the FCC’s determination ultimately turn out to be?

[Originally published at Precursor Blog]

Categories: On the Blog

Terrorists Bill and Bernadine Ayers Slip Unchallenged into Roles as Distinguished Professors

August 08, 2014, 8:32 AM

[This article was co-authored by Elizabeth Clarke]

Shouldn’t the substantial taxes we pay to support our local school districts ensure that our children are receiving quality education? Then there is the cost of a college education which keeps escalating but which is deemed necessary by society for young people to succeed. Yet more and more college students are being saddled with massive education debts to pay after graduating from college, coupled as they are with limited job opportunities.

How many Americans realize that the education in our public schools (K-12), and in most colleges, is progressive in its nature. The explosion of progressive education in the 1990′s was outlined by Thorner and Clarke in their published article in Illinois Review on Thursday, August 31, Cloward and Pivens Marxist-based radicalism alive today.

In grades K-12 Common Core education, adopted sight unseen in 2010 in every state but Alaska, Nebraska, Texas, and Virginia, is imposing a centralization of authority over the nation’s historically decentralized K-12 education system. The public’s lack of knowledge about Common Core is troubling because education is of fundamental importance to this nation’s democracy for individual freedom, and prosperity. Those who characterize Common Core as anything other than a national takeover of schooling to implant progressive, socialist ideas in the minds of gullible and trusting children are deliberately hiding the truths from the public. This article tells of an educator who changed from being a supporter of Common Core to her disillusionment by what she observed. As the notorious Russian Communist Vladimir Lenin once said: “Give me four years to teach the children and the seed I have sown will never be uprooted.”

While attending college the brainwashing continues.  It is difficult for conservative college students to express their beliefs and core values to their professors verbally or through their written work. Co-author Elizabeth Clarke remembers what happened to a granddaughter when she first entered college.  Her granddaughter, when attending an auditorium assembly meeting for freshmen, was told to forget all that she had ever learned before she entered college, a new way to think.

Ayers and Dohrn transition from terrorist to college professors

The nation’s colleges have long been infused with liberal progressive doctrine and professors.  Columbia University was cited by Thorner and Clarke as one such institution influenced early on by Communist-leaning John Dewey who taught at Columbia in the 1930′s.  Columbia went on to produce many educators in the 50′s who went out to spread the liberal, progressive gospel across the nation.  

It was Roger Kimball’s http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roger_Kimballwho claimed in his book, “Tenured Radicals,”   http://www.amazon.com/Tenured-Radicals-Politics-Corrupted-Education/dp/1566637961  that “yesterday’s radical thinker has become today’s tenured professor” carrying out “ideologically motivated assaults on the intellectual and moral substance of our culture.”  Bill Ayers’ proclivity toward terrorism was fostered by a 1965 Ann Arbor Teach-In against the Vietnam war.  At the event Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) President Paul Potter, asked his audience, “How will you live your life so that it doesn’t make a mockery of your values?” Ayers later wrote in his memoir, Fugitive Days, of his reaction: “You could not be a moral person with the means to act, and stand still. [...] To stand still was to choose indifference. Indifference was the opposite of moral”.

The transition from Underground terrorists to distinguished college professors by Bill Ayers and Bernadine Dohrn was apparently an easy one to attain. Granted their professorships were at established liberal institutions; however, there is more to the story to explain today why there is a preponderance of liberal activist professors to conservatives ones at most institutions of higher learning.

Impact of McCarthy era  

How was the transition by Ayers and Dohrn from terrorists to distinguished college professors accomplished?  To understand how radical terrorist like Ayers and Dohrn were able to obtain university position as former terrorists even at liberal universities, it is necessary to go back to the era of McCarthyism, so coined to criticize the anti-communist pursuits of Senator Joe McCarthy from a period in the United States known as the Second Red Scare lasting roughly from 1950 to 1956.  During that period there was heightened political repression against communists, as well as a fear campaign spreading paranoia of their influence on American institutions.

Beginning in 1950, Joseph McCarthy, who served as a Republican U.S. Senator from the state of Wisconsin from 1947 until his death in 1957, became the most visible public face of a period in which Cold War tensions fueled fears of widespread Communist subversion.  McCarthy, in his U.S. Congressional hearings, made claims that there were large numbers of Communists and Soviet spies and sympathizers inside the United States federal government and also in universities. Ultimately, McCarthy’s tactics led him to be censured by the United States Senate.

Co-author Elizabeth Clarke remembers the McCarthy era well. It is her opinion that McCarthy’s hearings were useful, but that he ultimately overstepped his bounds.  Hatred for Richard Nixon by Democrats when he became president can be traced back to the McCarthy hearings. Richard Nixon, as a young prosecutor, was involved in the McCarthy hearings. This hatred for Nixon by Democrats ultimately led to the effort to impeach Nixon, which Democrats were seeking to maneuver from the moment Nixon became president, with Nixon resigning before the impeachment vote could take place.

Laws passed by the Supreme Court finally result in banning loyalty oaths

Prior to the McCarthy era of the 1950′s, the Smith Act was enacted, June 29, 1940.  It set penalties for advocating the overthrow of the U.S. government or to organize of be a member of any group or society devoted to such advocacy.  Formally known at the “Alien Registration Act of 1940,” all non-citizen adult residents were required to register with the government.

Following WWII the Smith Act was made the basis of a series of prosecutions against leaders of the Communist Party and the Socialist Workers Party.  In Dennis v. United States (1951), the Court ruled that Eugene DennisGeneral Secretary of the Communist Party USA, did not have the right under the First Amendment to the United States Constitution to exercise free speech, publication and assembly, if the exercise involved the creation of a plot to overthrow the government.  In a later case, Yates v. United States in 1957, the court offset this position somewhat by a strict reading of the language of the Smith Act, construing “advocacy” to mean only urging that includes incitement to unlawful action

It was in 1967 that the Supreme Court in Keyishian et al v Board of Regents of the University of the State of New York granted protection to terrorist-turned professors. The lawsuit grew out of professors at the University of State of New York refusing to either sign a certificate or answer in writing under oath this question:  “Have you ever advised or taught or were you ever a member of any society or group of persons which taught or advocated the doctrine that the Government of the United States or of any political subdivisions thereof should be overthrown or overturned by force, violence or any unlawful means?”  Decided on January 23, 1967, in a 5-4 Supreme Court decision, Keyishian et al v Board of Regents held that states cannot prohibit employees from being members of the Communist Party or other seditious groups

Thomas G. Ayers, who was later Chairman and CEO of Commonwealth Edison (1973 to 1980), and for whom Northwestern’s Thomas G. Ayers College of Commerce and Industrywas named, undoubtedly had a big part in getting university teaching positions for his son and wife.  In the eyes of Thomas Ayers, whose tentacles of political influence in Chicago reached far and wide, his son could do no wrong.

 

[Originally published at Illinois Review]

Categories: On the Blog

Global Warming Pause Puts ‘Crisis’ in Perspective

August 08, 2014, 8:21 AM

Much has been written and argued, from all sides in the global warming debate, about the meaning of the asserted 17-year pause in global warming. Is a 17-year pause significant? Is a pause even occurring? Does the pause signal a longer-term halt to global warming or even a long-term cooling trend? Would a resumption of global warming to pre-pause rates end the global warming debate? A look at recent temperatures and their appropriate context provides helpful meaning to the much-discussed global warming pause.

Satellite instruments began uniformly measuring temperatures throughout the Earth’s lower atmosphere in 1979. Climate scientists overseeing these NASA satellite instruments produced the chart below showing the following temperature trends:

  • a plateau of temperatures, with absolutely no warming, from 1979 through 1997
  • a large temperature spike in 1998
  • a return to the 1979-1997 mean in 1999-2000
  • a modest escalation of temperatures in 2001
  • an elevated plateau of essentially flat temperatures from 2002-2014

If we choose a starting point of mid-1998, the planet has cooled during the past 16 years. If we choose a starting point of late 1997 or early 1999, temperatures have been flat during the past 15 and 17 years. Examining the totality of the 35-year temperature record, we see approximately 1/3 of 1 degree Celsius warming during the period. Accordingly, global warming has occurred at a pace of approximately 1 degree Celsius per century over the duration of the satellite record.

Remote Sensing Systems (RSS) also compiles data from the satellite instruments, though RSS measures a slightly different range of the lower atmosphere. RSS reports a similar temperature history, available here. In the RSS compilation, we see not just a recent temperature plateau, but actual cooling. Again, the pace of warming throughout the entirety of the record is approximately 1 degree Celsius per century.

So what can we glean from the temperature data? Thirty-five year temperature trends are likely more meaningful than 17-year temperature trends. Nevertheless, 17-year temperature trends are nothing to sneeze at. Either way, whether the global temperature pause continues or not, temperatures have risen much more slowly than United Nations computer model predictions.

Computer models, of course, are only as accurate as their programmed data, formulas, and assumptions. The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) acknowledges there are many components to climate change for which climate scientists are merely making their best guesses. The IPCC-affiliated scientists have made guesses that the unknown climate components will dramatically accelerate the modest warming caused directly by human carbon dioxide emissions. So-called climate skeptics have argued the UN guesses consistently overestimate the warming propensity of the unknown climate components.

The real-world temperature data appear to support the skeptics. Even before the recent global warming pause, temperatures were warming at a relatively modest pace. The ongoing global warming pause is rendering the longer-term pace of warming still more modest.

IPCC computer models dating from 1990 through the present have consistently predicted at least 2.4 degrees of global warming per century. Such warming would require at least 0.24 degrees Celsius per decade, for which we should see at least 0.80 degrees Celsius warming since 1979. However, real-world warming since 1979 is occurring at less than half that pace. And there has been absolutely no real-world warming during the past 17 years.

IPCC adherents claim short-term variance is masking longer-term climate trends. According to this line of reasoning, the 35 years since 1979 are simply not long enough to form meaningful conclusions about the longer-term pace of global warming. This line of argument is unpersuasive for two important reasons: First, the admittedly less reliable ground-based mercury temperature readings from the mid-1940s through the late 1970s reported global cooling during the three decades immediately prior to the satellite era. Accordingly, the time period for which real-world temperatures are not rising nearly as rapidly as IPCC predictions is now not just 35 years, but approximately 70 years. Second, and even ignoring the 1940s-1970s global cooling, for global temperatures to meet IPCC’s predicted 2.4 degree rise by late this century, global temperatures must immediately – and that means immediately – begin rising at a sustained 0.30 degrees Celsius per decade. That has never come close to occurring during our modern warm period, and the ongoing global warming pause suggests that is unlikely to begin happening any time in the foreseeable future, either.

The El Nino/La Nina oscillation, moreover, provides some interesting context to the Earth’s recent temperature history. El Ninos warm the global climate while La Ninas cool the global climate. The 1998 global temperature spike was associated with the strongest El Nino in modern history. Also, El Ninos dominated the global climate from the late 1970s through the mid-2000s. Since 2007, however, modest La Nina conditions have prevailed.

The ongoing global warming pause is likely being assisted by the recent modest La Ninas.  At some point between now and 2030, however, the cycle should flip back to one dominated by El Ninos. When that occurs, it is likely that global temperatures will again rise.

The ongoing global warming pause and the longer-term temperature record, however, indicate any future El Nino-assisted temperature rise will likely be modest once again. If the IPCC’s guesses on unknown climate components were correct, global temperatures would still be rising – even during this La Nina phase – at a fairly rapid pace. Moreover, global temperatures should have risen much more rapidly than was the case during the last El Nino phase. If IPCC model predictions were relatively accurate, global warming should be occurring at a pace of approximately 0.15 degrees Celsius per decade during La Ninas and approximately 0.35 degrees Celsius per decade during El Ninos. Neither has even come close to occurring in the real-world temperature record.

Pulling this all together, we can reach the following conclusions:

  • The global warming pause is real.
  • The global warming pause is significant.
  • The global warming pause is not likely to be permanent.
  • A future resumption of global warming at pre-pause rates – or even modestly accelerated rates – would not validate IPCC global warming predictions, and would instead continue to undermine the IPCC’s predictions of very rapid 21st century global warming.
  • The most meaningful aspect of the global warming pause isn’t that temperatures have flattened for 17 years, but rather that the global warming pause extends and solidifies the longer-term record of smaller-than-predicted global temperature rise.

 

[Originally published at Forbes]

Categories: On the Blog

Pass the House Border Bill

August 07, 2014, 1:10 PM

Conservative and liberal media alike were all atwitter with Thursday’s midday news that the House of Representatives was going on its summer recess without passing a border-related bill because Republicans did not have the votes to pass it. The leftwas particularly pleased in the apparent inability of the new House leadership team to pass a relatively inexpensive bill that contained at least one conservative priority on an extremely visible issue.

Later in the day, we learned that Speaker of the House John Boehner and House GOP leadership are keeping the House in session until there is a vote on a bill, which may occur on Friday.

Boehner is right to do this, and the House should pass the bill under consideration.

According to Boehner’s office, key aspects of the House bill include that it:

  • Changes the 2008 law that allowed Central American children to avoid immediate deportation.
  • Stops the Agriculture and Interior Departments from curbing Border Patrol agents’ activities on federal lands within 100 miles of the U.S.-Mexico border.
  • Funds National Guard troops at the border.
  • Spends $659 million, about one-sixth of President Obama’s outrageous “never let a crisis go to waste” request, and offsets the spending with other cuts.
  • Adds resources like detention space and temporary immigration judges to ICE and Border Patrol operations in order to allow faster processing and deportation.
  • (If I’m reading it right) Takes money from foreign aid funds to pay for “repatriation assistance to Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador.”
  • States that Congress opposes housing illegal aliens on U.S. military bases.

Opposition to the bill has come from Southern members of the House, as well as from congressmen such as anti-immigration hawk Steve King (R-IA), who has said that he would only support the measure if it includes additional legislation such as the Cruz-Blackburnbill to restrict the Deferred Action for Childhood Releases (DACA) program — President Obama’s lawless creation to allow illegal aliens to stay in the United States (for at least two years) if they claim to have been brought here as children.

[UPDATE: Much opposition to the bill among congressmen and the public alike is based on an analysis by the Center for Immigration Studies -- an analysis which I find quite flawed and misleading, a conclusion which I explain here.]

Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) has been aggressively lobbying House conservatives to oppose the House bill. Alabama’s Jeff Sessions has been cheering him on.

As much as I appreciate Senators Cruz and Sessions, House Republicans should pass this bill, not least — and I stipulate to an unusually high level of cynicism here — because there is simply no chance that it will pass the Senate, or even receive a vote there.

What are the results of not passing the bill?

 Republicans open a five-week window for Democrats and their media pawns to beat them about the head and neck for being unable to pass a bill even with a substantial GOP majority. It plays into the administration’s claims, made again Thursday, that Obama must “act on his own” because Congress is impotent. It’s also a terrible way to inaugurate a new leadership team (about which more in a moment).

And the law will not change.

What are the results of passing the bill?

The Senate remains the place of gridlock, the place where bills go to die, the place where the majority party not only can’t get anything done but doesn’t even try because Harry Reid’s cynicism makes mine seem downright amateurish (and almost everyone else’s in Washington, as well, which is quite a feat). The president will look as feckless as always in his inability to corral the Democratic Party that he is the titular leader of, not that the word “leader” applies to the man in any context.

And the law will not change.

In the imaginary world in which the House bill could become law, it would be a modest improvement — perhaps even more than modest — over the current process, and at a fraction of the cost that Democrats have in mind.

The far-right wing of the Republican Party which is opposing this bill out of some strange combination of the perfect being the enemy of the good and kneeling at the altar of Ted Cruz are not just making a policy mistake but they are making a big political mistake if their goal is the good of their party and of the country rather than maximizing Ted Cruz’s political capital and turning him into the second coming of Sarah Palin.

Just as Sarah Palin is hurting Republicans with her pointless talk of impeachment (by which I do not suggest that Obama does not amply qualify for removal from office), Cruz is hurting Republicans by making them appear unwilling to do anything at all.

It’s one thing for Democrats to call the GOP the “Party of ‘No’.” It’s another thing to prove them right. And for what?

Two closing thoughts: The analysis above could be read as my being a strong supporter of both the Republican Party and the GOP’s House leadership team. I am not a Republican and don’t think much of Boehner, McCarthy, and friends — though I think better of them than many other Tea Party sympathizers and hard-core conservatives do; herding cats is a difficult, underappreciated job.

What I am a strong supporter of is turning Harry Reid into the Minority Leader in November’s elections. There is no more important short-term political imperative. And there is no alternative political party to give the Senate majority to other than the Republicans.

To paraphrase South Park’s Matt Stone: I hate Republicans but I really f***ing hate Democrats.

Thus, I care when the GOP makes such egregious and unnecessary unforced errors as Thursday’s border bill chaos.

So, my advice to House and Senate Republicans, respectively:

For House Republicans: First, do no harm. For those who don’t think the border bill goes far enough, vote “yes” anyway. There is simply no real downside to supporting the bill, and plenty of public relations downside if it fails.

For Ted Cruz and Jeff Sessions, regarding their meddling, I offer the Israeli cabinet’s remarkably à propos response to Barack Obama’s recent inference in their doing what needs to be done: “Leave us alone.”

 

[Originally published at the American Spectator]

Categories: On the Blog

Past Time for Ayers to Confess Past Terrorism and Obama Ties?

August 07, 2014, 9:30 AM

[This article was co-authored by Elizabeth Clarke]

In Thorner’s Illinois Review article of Thursday, July 31, the progressive-based education system in place today is traced back to Karl Marx in Germany to New England-born John Dewey and his tenure at Columbia University, ending with Dewey’s acolytes, the husband and wife team of Richard Cloward and Frances Fox Piven at Columbia in the 60′s. The two produced the Cloward-Piven strategy in play today in the Obama administration.

Progressive Education explodes in the 90′s 

Chicagoan Bill Ayers’ direct involvement with progressive education, before his activities as a terrorist in the Weather Underground movement, can be traced back to his college years at the University of Michigan where he graduated in 1968 with a B.A. in American Studies. Ayers became a teacher at the Children’s Community School located in the basement of a church, a preschool with a small enrollment founded by a group of students who were enamored by theSummerhill method of education as part of the nationwide “free school movement”.

The Summerhill method had no grades or report cards and encouraged cooperation rather than competition. Within a few months, at age 21, Ayers became director of the school.  Considered a radical alternative to conventional education (or was it a form on anarchy?), the Summerhill method catered to do-as-you-like kids.

Consider what Roger Kimball – a notable American art critic and social commentator, editor and publisher of The New Criterion, and publisher of Encounter Book — had to say in his book, “Tenured Radicals,” first published in 1990 with expanded 2nd and 3rd editions.  Kimball makes the claim that yesterday’s radical thinker has become today’s tenured professor, carrying out “ideologically-motivated assaults on the intellectual and moral substance of our culture.”

Another American author, Karl Zinsmeister, wrote in his article, “The Shame of American’s One-Party Campuses,” published in the September 2002 issue of The American Enterprise while yet its editor-in-chief:

Today’s colleges and universities are not, to use the current buzzword, diverse places.  Quite the opposite:  they are virtual one-party states, ideological monopolies, badly unbalanced ecosystems…They do not, when it comes to political and cultural ideas, look like America.

Dr. Zinsmister’s 2002 article is referenced in this study.  Zinsmeister served in the White House as President George W. Bush’s chief domestic policy advisor from 2006 to 2009.

Without doubt, conservative students suffer under the intense liberal indoctrination of many colleges, but being white also proved to be a disadvantage.  In 2011, white students were targeted by a campaign sponsored by the University of Minnesota, in tandem with champions of social justice such as the NAACP, YWCA, and the League of Women Voters, to raise awareness that it’s “unfair to be white.” Its “Un-Fair Campaign” stated any success a white person has comes from “white privilege” and inherent racism instead of learning founding principles that made America great.  

Disinformation to students from a historical perspective has been spread through Howard Zinn’s best known 1980 book, A People’s History of the United States, which has been used to instruct generations of faculty members and their own students.  In July of 2013 when Mitch Daniels was yet governor of Indiana (2005 to 2013),  Daniels requested that no public universities or high school should teach the works of Howard Zinn, a longtime Boston University professor who died in 2010, which riled the Left at the time.  Daniel’s was referring specifically to Zinn’s “A People’s History of the United States.”

Mitch Daniel was correct in his assessment of Zinn’s textbook, a textbook of choice in many high schools and colleges around the country.  Daniels described Zinn’s history textbook as “a truly execrable, anti-factual piece of disinformation that misstates American history on every page. Can someone assure me that it is not in use anywhere in Indiana? If it is, how do we get rid of it before more young people are force-fed a totally false version of our history?”

UN advances progressive education in the 90′s

The Rio Conference of 1991 produced Agenda 21.  Chapter 36 is all about Promoting Education, Public Awareness and Training.  In a lecture given by Dr. Dave Lehman   in June of this year, he talks about Agenda 21 and the history of Progressive Education, first tested in Chicago through “Mastery Learning”(Outcome-based education), geared to brainwash young, impressionable children.   Also cited by Dr. Lehman was Clinton’s Governor’s Program.

It is not at all surprising that a year after the Rio Conference, November 12, 1992, a letter known as Tucker’s “Dear Hillary” letter was written to Hillary Clinton at the Governor’s Mansion in Little Rock, AR by Marc Tucker, president of the National Center on Education and the Economy (NCEE).  In his letter Tucker laid out his plan, supported by Hillary, “to remold the entire American system” into “a seamless web that literally extends from cradle to grave and is the same system for everyone,” further coordinated by “a system of labor market boards at the local, state and federal levels.”

The aim of Tucker’s progressive education plan was to change the mission of the schools from teaching children academic basics and knowledge to training them to serve the global economy in jobs selected by workforce boards. Nothing in Tucker’s comprehensive plan had anything to do with teaching schoolchildren how to read, write, or calculate; nevertheless, three laws were passed by Congress and signed by President Clinton, in keeping with Tucker’s grand plan, the Goals 2000 Act, the School-to-Work Act, and the reauthorized Elementary and Secondary Education Act.  The latter law established the following mechanisms to restructure the public schools now being implemented in this nation’s public schools through Common Core, Obama’s educational program:

  • Bypass all elected officials on school boards and in state legislatures by making federal funds flow to the Governor and his appointees on workforce development boards
  • Use a computer database, a.k.a. “a labor market information system,” into which school personnel would scan all information about every schoolchild and his family, identified by the child’s social security number: academic, medical, mental, psychological, behavioral, and interrogations by counselors. The computerized data would be available to the school, the government, and future employers.
  • Use “national standards” and “national testing” to cement national control of tests, assessments, school honors and rewards, financial aid, and the Certificate of Initial Mastery (CIM), which is designed to replace the high school diploma.

Marc Tucker, still active today, ranks as #3 among the top ten scariest people leading education in America.  Noteworthy is that the National Center on Education and the Economy (NCEE), the organization over which Tucker presides, is paid millions  by Common Core main-funder Bill Gates, to promote Tucker’s progressive ideas.  For example, Tucker hopes to remove “the policy of requiring a passing score on an Algebra II exam for high school graduation” because he feels that over educating the masses is a waste of collective tax money.

In October, 2013 Marc Tucker addressed members of the New Hampshire legislature where Tucker was accused of telling more fibs that Pinocchio ever did.  As quoted: Tucker doesn’t know a mathematician from a mathematics educator, raising the question whether he knows what he is talking about at all.”

Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn, as progressive radicals, become distinguished educators

Given that many of the terrorists and radicals thinkers of the past are today’s college professors at universities and colleges, which are hotbeds of liberalism, it is not surprising that William Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn, after their terrorist days as Underground Weathermen, became distinguished professors, William Ayers at the University of Illinois at Chicago, and Bernadine Dohrn at Northwestern University in Evanston. By the same token, this also explains why many of today’s journalist espouse liberal policies — which amounts to a corrupted, one-sided media — as many journalists received their training at Schools of Journalism from liberal institutions such as Columbia and Northwestern Universities.

William Charles “Bill” Ayers was born on December 26, 1944. Ayers is known as an American elementary education theorist and a former leader in the counterculture movement that opposed U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War.  In 1969 he co-founded the Weather Underground, a self-described communist revolutionary group that conducted a campaign of bombing public buildings (including police stations, the U.S. Capitol Building, and the Pentagon) during the 1960s and 1970s in response to U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War.  Now a retired professor in the College of Education at the University of Illinois at Chicago, Ayers formerly held the titles of Distinguished Professor of Education and Senior University Scholar. He is married to Bernadine Dohrn who was also a leader in the Weather Underground.

Bernardine Rae Dohrn’s birth dateis January 12, 1942.  She is a  Clinical Associate Professor of Law at Northwestern University School of Law and the immediate past Director of Northwestern’s Children and Family Justice Center. As a leader and member of the Weather Underground, Dohrn helped to create a“Declaration of a State of War” against the United States government, and was placed on the FBI’s 10 Most Wanted list, where she remained for three years.

Bill Ayers continues to justify his terrorist background

Three Decades after the end of  the Weather Underground, Bill Ayers is still attempting to justify his actions in the 50′s and 60′s when his opposition to the Vietnam War turned violent.  It is time for Ayers to cut the sophistry and admit to his violent acts, reckoning in retrospect, that his Weather Underground activities accomplished nothing but to undermine the peaceful antiwar movement of the time.

Ayers has chosen to remain an unrepentant terrorist.  Recently Bill Ayers attempted to justify his actions when he went toe-to-toe with Megyn Kelly in two explosive interviews during which Kelly repeatedly confronted Ayers about bombings and killings that the Weather Underground group was reportedly involved in. View here Kelly’s two incredulous interviews with Bill Ayers.

According to Ayers, he was a victim of a profoundly dishonest drama. Although Ayer’s Weather Underground committed symbolic acts of extreme vandalism directed against monuments to war and racism, Ayers did not consider this terrorism. Bombings were surgical strikes meant to respect human life. Ayers insisted that he never killed or hurt anyone and never intended to.  As to the bombing of the Pentagon by Ayers and his cohorts, Ayers didn’t believe an apology was called for.

Bill Ayers’ comments expressed to Megyn Kelly about his Weatherman Underground involvement were in keeping with those he expressed on December 6, 2008 in an Op-Ed to the “New York Times.”  (At the time William Ayers was professor of education at the University of Illinois at Chicago and the author of “Fugitive Days.”).  In his Op-Ed, “The Real Bill Ayers,” Ayers bemoaned his inability to refute prior to the 2008 election an untrue casting of himself as an unrepentant terrorist with ties to Barack Obama.  It was the aim of Ayers’ article to inform the public that the character invented to serve this drama wasn’t Bill Ayers, not even close.

Part 2 will explore the nature of McCarthyism; the law passed (The Smith Act) to require college professors to take an oath of loyalty to this nation; how the loyalty oath was abandoned by a 1967 law which allowed terrorists like Ayers and Dohrn to become college professors; Ayers’ progressive ties to President Obama; and whether this nation has already become “The United Socialist States of America.”

 

[Originally published at Illinois Review]

Categories: On the Blog

Your Data is No Longer Safe Anywhere in the World

August 07, 2014, 9:00 AM

Last week a federal judge ordered Microsoft to hand over its data stores to the government, including data housed overseas. The ruling marks an ominous new chapter in Internet privacy, one that could have lasting impacts on both individuals’ privacy online and the nature of international law.

The ruling is meant to make it impossible for individuals and firms engaged in elicit practices to hide the evidence of their wrongdoing in datacenters in other countries. There is something to that, but the idea that the government should be given access to the vast trove of data housed by Microsoft and other tech firms is extremely worrying.

Fourth Amendment Online

Microsoft argued unsuccessfully that the data stored, such as personal emails, ought to be granted the same degree of constitutional protections as hard copy mail and records. The judge did not see it that way and ordered a far wider reaching handover of data than would happen in a non-digital platform. The sad fact is that the government continues to treat the Internet and the correspondence carried out on it as a piggy bank of data with only marginal legal privacy protections. That has to change.

People carry out ever larger parts of their lives, both personal and professional, online. The Internet is the new grand communications venue for people of all nations and its critical import must be recognized by law. The very notion that a court can order a business to hand over all of its data held both domestically and abroad is a monstrous violation of the Constitution and individual liberty.

An International Incident

The ruling is so sweeping in its application that it includes an order to hand over all data, including that of foreign nationals. That has, for obvious reasons, caused significant unrest in many countries. The EU has already passed data protection laws aimed at preventing the transfer of their citizens’ private data to a foreign government, and they are in the process of drafting still more rigorous laws that would likely block orders like that handed down to Microsoft.

The EU is not unreasonable. Indeed, it is quite bizarre that the federal government thought it could get away with such a brazen violation of foreign nationals’ rights. Looking at the situation in light of all the recent revelations about American spying on European allies, it is hard to understand what the government is trying to achieve. If their aim is to alienate major allies and damage further America’s already battered reputation for digital probity, then they have succeeded with flying colors.

A Dangerous Precedent

The future is a grim one if the United States succeeds against all reason to establish an international norm in which domestic businesses can be ordered to hand over data held in foreign countries. If that is normalized, countries like China and Russia would have sufficient cover to engage in similarly draconian practices.

A world in which countries mine their companies’ foreign data centers is a world in which few such data centers will exist. The world is benefited by the interconnectivity promoted by the Internet. America should not destroy it with mindless heavy-handedness.

Categories: On the Blog