Comments and observations on social and political trends and events.

Monday, December 27, 2010

How to Cultivate a Food Crisis by Robert James Bidinotto

Read this and prepare to lose your appetite. How to Cultivate a Food Crisis

Friday, December 24, 2010

What Do Liberals Have To Show For 50 Years Of Horrible Policies? -

Larry Elder makes a number of good points in his article, What Do Liberals Have To Show For 50 Years Of Horrible Policies? - While I agree with his observations I have an additional observation: just pointing out how various policies have failed is not enough to deter continued support. The practical argument needs to be backed by a moral argument.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Belarus Burns - By Jonah Goldberg - The Corner - National Review Online

From the beginning of a letter Robert Bidinotto wrote to National Review.

This past week, the nation of Belarus in Eastern Europe held another rigged “election.” Now, long-time Stalinist dictator Alexander Lukashenko has cracked down on his opponents with a ferocity not seen since the worst days
of the old Soviet empire.
The rest of the letter can be found at this link:
Belarus Burns - By Jonah Goldberg - The Corner - National Review Online.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Dance With The One Who Brung You? by Paul Hsieh

I like this post by Paul Hsieh. I agree with his comments about the Republicans getting the right message. I too think the election expressed the frustration people are feeling with the health care bill and the economy, not whether gay marriages should be allowed or whether abortion should not be allowed.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Five Reasons We Think RECs Are RECkless by Houston Neal

Houston Neal, Director of Marketing for Software Advice posted this poll regarding Regional Extension Centers.

Three weeks ago we launched a poll asking, “Will Regional Extension Centers deliver on their mission?” With the help of fellow bloggers, we received a total of 87 responses from physicians, health IT insiders and other health care professionals. Thank you to those who participated and to those who helped us spread the word about the poll.

One of the major components of the the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) was the allocation of $19 billion to jump start the adoption of electronic health records (EHRs). One of the major uses of those funds was the establishment of Regional Extension Centers (RECs) to support EHR adoption by primary care physicians.

Read more:

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

30 Best Blogs for Exploring Objectivism

I am pleased to report that Accredited Online, has chosen Thinking Objectively as 30 Best Blogs for Exploring Objectivism. The purpose of this blog is aimed at applying Objectivist principles to cultural, social and political events for a general audience. In other words, I'm trying not to preach to the choir, so to speak. In any case, I'm thrilled and honored that Accredited Online chose Thinking Objectively. Thanks!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

President 40/60

Victor Davis Hanson offers a good, concise analysis of the reasons for President Obama's continually sliding poll numbers in President 40/60.

Friday, September 17, 2010

USGS Release: 3 to 4.3 Billion Barrels of Technically Recoverable Oil Assessed in North Dakota and Montana’s Bakken Formation—25 Times More Than 1995 Estimate

For all the blather we hear about the need for energy independence we see precious little action happening within our borders to make this happen. I'm sure a variety of factors play a role, from the Not In My Back Yard attitude to the environmentalist objections to off shore and on shore drilling to the belief that America doesn't deserve to be independent because of its inherently evil capitalist system (or what's left of it). In that context it's interesting to see the USGS release this staggering estimate of how much oil lies under our own soil.

Monday, September 13, 2010

The Anti-American President? by Robert James Bidinotto

Good friend Robert Bidinotto penned The Anti-American President?. Well worth reading!

Here is a sample.

Indeed. With the possible exception of Woodrow Wilson, Barack Obama is the only American president to truly despise, at the deepest philosophical level, what America uniquely stands for—which is why he stresses that he aims to be a “transformational president.” He has complained that the Framers of the Constitution failed to allow for “redistributive change.” Andrew C. McCarthy summarized Obama’s frustration with constitutional limits on government power:

Saturday, August 21, 2010

California's war on itself - Opinion - The Orange County Register

This article - California's war on itself - Opinion - The Orange County Register - nicely details the policies and their consequences that lead California to its current state, so to speak. It doesn't go into the philosophy behind these policies (a subject for a future post) but does explain the sequence of decisions leading up to the current crisis.

California's supposedly progressive economics have had profound demographic consequences. After serving as a beacon for millions of Americans, California now ranks second to New York – and just ahead of New Jersey – in the number of moving vans leaving the state. Between 2004 and 2007, 500,000 more Americans left California than arrived; in 2008, the net outflow reached 135,000, much of it to the very "dust bowl" states, like Oklahoma and Texas, from which many Californians trace their origins. California now has a lower percentage of people who moved there within the last year than any state except Michigan.

Monday, July 19, 2010

American Jeopardy: What is Fascism?

John Giffing has written an insightful analysis of the trend in America towards fascism: American Jeopardy: What is Fascism?

Here is the introductory paragraph.

Over the years, words lose meaning and often take on new forms that in no way represent their original usage. This can be observed in the now taboo word "fascism." Fascism is now most closely associated with the system of government that effected the slaughter of over 6 million Jews and other political prisoners. But at its core, fascism is really no more than a system where government, through agreements with the private sector, controls virtually all property and income indirectly.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Why Business Hates Obama

In browsing different blogs on both sides of the political spectrum, a common theme I've seen on the right is to accuse Obama of being a socialist or a communist. While there might be some merit to applying one of these labels to him I actually think he is more in favor of what some call crony capitalism. Or maybe a more appropriate term is fascism of some sort. According to Wikipedia, “Fascists seek to organize a nation according to corporatist perspectives, values, and systems, including the political system and the economy. ... Fascists believe that a nation is an organic community that requires strong leadership, singular collective identity, and the will and ability to commit violence and wage war in order to keep the nation strong. They claim that culture is created by the collective national society and its state, that cultural ideas are what give individuals identity, and thus they reject individualism.”

The last sentence in the Wikipedia entry captures what I think is a common denominator shared by socialism, communism, fascism and crony capitalism: an antipathy towards individuals. I think it also shouldn't be surprising that small businesses have been suffering under the Obama administration's attempts to "fix" the economy. Many small businesses represent the embodied dreams of entrepreneurs, of a man or woman who create a business on their own instead of working in the corporate world.

Joel Kotkin's article explains why small businesses, which normally lead the economy out of a recession, are staying hunkered down.

Obama’s big problems with business did not start, and are not deepest, among the corporate elite. Instead, the driver here has been what you might call a bottom-up opposition. The business move against Obama started not in the corporate suites, but among smaller businesses. In the media, this opposition has been linked to Tea Parties, led by people who in any case would have opposed any Democratic administration. But the phenomenon is much broader than that.

The one group that has fared badly in the last two years has been the private-sector middle class, particularly the roughly 25 million small firms spread across the country. Their discontent—not that of the loud-mouthed professional right or the spoiled sports on Wall Street—is what should be keeping Obama and the Democrats awake at night.

Small business should be leading us out of the recession. In the last two deep recessions during the early 1980s and the early 1990s, small firms, particularly the mom and pop shops, helped drive the recovery, adding jobs and starting companies. In contrast, this time the formation rate for new firms has been dropping for months—one reason why unemployment remains so high and new hiring remains insipid at best.


It’s not hard to see the reasons for pessimism. Entrepreneurs see bailed-out Wall Street firms and big banks recovering, while getting credit remains very difficult for the little guy. In addition, many small businesses are terrified of new mandates, in energy or health, which makes them reluctant to hire new people. Small banks—not considered “too big to fail”—fear that they will prove far less capable of meeting new regulatory guidelines than their leviathan competitors.


Among businesses of all sizes, there is now a pervasive sense that the administration does not understand basic economics. This is not to say they believe Obama’s a closet socialist, as some more unhinged conservatives claim. That would be an insult to socialism. Obama’s real problem is that he’s a product, basically, of the fantastical faculty lounge.

For the most part, university professors do not much value economic growth, since they consider themselves, like government workers, a protected class. Many, particularly in planning and environmental study departments, also embrace the views of the president’s academic science adviser, John Holdren, who suggests Western countries undergo “de-development,” which is the opposite of economic growth.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Obama's Greek Tragedy

Victor Davis Hanson's Obama's Greek Tragedy makes a number of good points about the drastic disparity between Obama's hope and change campaign platitudes while merely continuing the policies of his predecessor, George W, who Obama excoriated during the presidential campaign.

The reality of Barack Obama is that he was an inexperienced community organizer with an undistinguished record as a Senate newcomer. A perfect storm of popular anger at eight years of George Bush, a lackluster John McCain campaign, Obama's landmark candidacy as an African-American, a disingenuous campaign promising centrist and bipartisan governance, and the financial meltdown in 2008 got the relatively untried and unknown Obama elected.

Most mortals in Obama's position would have treaded lightly. They would have kept promises, steered a moderate course and listened more than lectured until they won over the public with concrete achievement.

But headstrong tragic figures do not do that. They neither welcome in critics nor would listen to them if they did. They impute their unforeseen temporary success to their own brilliance -- and expect it to continue forever. So would-be gods set themselves up for a fall far harder than what happens to the rest of us.

That's about where we are now, with our president playing a character right out of Greek tragedy, who, true to form, is railing about the unfairness of it all.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Obama's thuggery is useless in fighting spill | Washington Examiner

This piece does a nice job summarizing the fact that Obama's thuggery is useless in fighting spill | Washington Examiner.

In particular I liked these two paragraphs:

And what about the decision not to waive the Jones Act, which bars foreign-flag vessels from coming to the aid of the Gulf cleanup? The Bush administration promptly waived it after Katrina in 2005. The Obama administration hasn't and claims unconvincingly that, gee, there aren't really any foreign vessels that could help.

The more plausible explanation is that this is a sop to the maritime unions, part of the union movement that gave Obama and other Democrats $400 million in the 2008 campaign cycle. It's the Chicago way: Dance with the girl that brung ya.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Obama’s Gulf War III

This link provides an interesting perspective on Obama's handling of the BP oil spill.

Obama’s Gulf War III

Obama campaigned on competence and cool. But his technocrats, whether Van Jones, Dr. Chu, Larry Summers, or Eric Holder, are at best academic misfits and at worse simply unfit for executive responsibilities. Harvard Law Review may be of value for suing BP later and demonizing it in the press, and community organizing may be valuable in shaking down BP to clean up, but had only the president run an ACE Hardware store, or at least worked the night shift at Starbucks, he could have had some experience in delegating authority and demanding results from employees, while keeping in mind the bigger picture of economic survival. Right now we are being governed by a GS something, who has no idea where money comes from, but lots of ideas how to blow it. This crisis brings that out.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Pigs fly, and the Times chides Obama on the oil spill by neoneocon

Once again neoneocon nails a subject on the head. This time it's Obama's "response" to the BP oil spill, the gentle chiding given by The New York Times and a key oversight in their editorial.

Earth to NY Times: Obama is not a competent leader. He can pretend to be one during a campaign, and the press can assert that he is one when he has so little record to refute their claims. But that is not reality, it’s a co-constructed narrative that can easily fall to pieces when it faces events in the world.

The Times editors, who still appear to believe that Obama could show these things if he would only choose to do so, fail to understand the principle. But as wordsmiths who’ve most likely never had to show results in their lives (including an increase in circulation; theirs has been in freefall), but who believe something to be so merely by asserting it and/or bluffing, they must be very puzzled indeed.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Once a government pet, BP now a capitalist tool | Washington Examiner

Once a government pet, BP now a capitalist tool | Washington Examiner

While BP has resisted some government interventions, it has lobbied for tax hikes, greenhouse gas restraints, the stimulus bill, the Wall Street bailout, and subsidies for oil pipelines, solar panels, natural gas and biofuels.

Now that BP’s oil rig has caused the biggest environmental disaster in American history, the Left is pulling the same bogus trick it did with Enron and AIG: Whenever a company earns universal ire, declare it the poster boy for the free market.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

A Busted Formula By: Eric Sprott & David Franklin

This analysis by Eric Sprott shows the folly of relying on government bail outs to "stimulate" our way out of the recession. As he concludes,

The key point to remember with bailouts and stimulus is that it’s ultimately your money that the government is spending – and your children’s money. The numbers strongly suggest that your money isn’t being spent wisely. We need real jobs and real growth, not bigger, more leveraged banks. The market isn’t oblivious – it can see what’s happening. Gold’s recent strength in lieu of seemingly ‘deflationary’ economic data confirms the market’s doubts over government intervention in the financial system.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

American Thinker: The Health Insurers' Faustian Bargain

American Thinker: The Health Insurers' Faustian Bargain

Massachusetts Insurers Post Big Losses - Business - The Atlantic

Massachusetts Insurers Post Big Losses - Business - The Atlantic

Here are key quotes from the beginning and end of McArdle's blog entry.

When MassCare passed, it was supposed to lower the average cost of health care by getting relatively cheap young people into the system, and ending the inefficiencies of caring for the uninsured. Unfortunately, it hasn't quite worked out that way. ... There was a brief improvement in insurance prices for the individual market, because Massachusetts, with its community rating and
guaranteed issue, had had a pretty sizable problem with adverse selection.
But after a few years, insurance costs were still marching briskly upward, rates were among the highest in the country, and the system was putting heavy pressure on a budget that was already strained to the limit by the recession.

There's a depressing possibility, even a likelihood, that this is our
future. It's hard to simultaneously expand demand, while lowering the
incentives for supply (i.e. Medicare reimbursements), without having some pretty dramatic mismatches between the two. There's an old adage common in restaurants and engineering that goes "Good. Fast. Cheap. Pick Two." Change that middle word to "Universal" and you've got a pretty good summation of the problem that Massachusetts now faces--and that the rest of us soon will.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Smuggled Premises: Elena Kagan and the military

While watching ABC's This Week Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy and Ranking Republican Jeff Sessions debated the merits of Elena Kagan's nomination to the Supreme Court. One exchange caught me as an example of how premises can be smuggled into a debate without being challenged. At one point Sessions commented on how Kagan didn't allow military recruiters onto the Harvard campus. Leahy challenged the accuracy of Sessions' account and retorted with how Kagan supports those who serve in the military.

I don't want to get into whose version of this story was more accurate. What is more interesting, to me anyway, is that Sessions did not address what I think is a glaring error in Leahy's argument. The fact that one supports those who have volunteered for a career in the military does not mean you automatically support the military as an institution. When we first got into the Afghanistan and Iraq wars I heard a number of people say they supported our troops but not their mission in these wars. I also know people personally who support our troops but harbor a deep disdain for the military. I think there are a number of reasons for this which I'll get into at another time. But I think this little vignette shows the perils of not challenging someone's argument. By letting Leahy's claim slip by with no comment Sessions lost a prime opportunity to draw Leahy into a discussion of what he or Kagan truly think about the role of the military. Do they believe the U.S. has the moral right to maintain military superiority over those countries that are not our allies?

For a nicely balanced analysis of Kagan's position on this see the article posted on The Volokh Conspiracy.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Harvard astrophysicist dismisses AGW theory, challenges peers to 'take back climate science'

In this interview of Dr. Willie Soon, a solar and climate scientist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, Dr. Soon pulls no punches. This is important because now that the Obama administration has health care reform behind them (I think) their next target is going to be cap-and-trade using global warming as part of their argument.

Harvard astrophysicist dismisses AGW theory, challenges peers to 'take back climate science'

Posted using

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Postmodernism: A Unified Theory of All the Trouble in the World

I've referred to the role of postmodernism in a number of issues such as global warming. This article does a nice job expanding on the influence of postmodernism.

Postmodernism: A Unified Theory of All the Trouble in the World

Saturday, May 1, 2010

What is enough?

Earlier this week I saw a post titled Obama and Sowell: who can tell when people have made enough money? on the always-excellent neo-neocon about a speech Obama gave regarding the recent push for financial reform. Neo-neocon’s post has the following quote from this speech (which, in the interest of full disclosure, I have not dug up and read, yet).

Here is the quote.

“We’re not, we’re not trying to push financial reform because we begrudge success that’s fairly earned. I mean, I do think at a certain point you’ve made enough money. But, you know, part of the American way is, you know, you can just keep on making it if you’re providing a good product or providing good service. We don’t want people to stop, ah, fulfilling the core responsibilities of the financial system to help grow our economy.”

Neo-neocon’s response:

One of the most interesting things about the Obama quote under discussion is that, if you look at his scripted speech, he was trying to do his version of supporting what Sowell says—that is, of praising the power of capitalism’s ability to allow the aggregate forces of private enterprise and personal initiative to grow an economy. He knows that’s the American way, and that it is necessary for a president to pay some sort of lip service to it. But he couldn’t help blurting out what for him is the truth—that he doesn’t really believe in it at all—and that he and the other brilliant intellectuals surrounding him know much better, both practically and morally.

Let’s unpack what he says. There is a lot in this one paragraph consisting of four sentences.

“I do think at a certain point you’ve made enough money.” Enough for whom and for what? Is the $5,000,000 Obama made last year primarily from his book sales the level that demarks what is enough? What happens if you exceed what is considered “enough”? Does the government cap it so you can’t receive it? Is it taxed at a 100% rate? Notice too the elitism inherent in this statement, that he and his cohorts know better than the rest of us what is “enough.”

“But, you know, part of the American way is, you know, you can just keep on making it if you’re providing a good product or providing good service.” Maybe I’m reading too much into his choice of words but it seems as though he harbors disdain for what is known as the American dream, especially with his choice of “just keep on making it.” Apparently once you’ve had enough you’re supposed to do what? Stop? Give away what is considered excess? Or, if you’re enlightened like Obama you don’t strive to just keep on making money in the first place.

“We don’t want people to stop, ah, fulfilling the core responsibilities of the financial system to help grow our economy.” Here he seems to be saying that the justification for people succeeding economically is not because it is their right to do so (provided they’re not violating the rights of others). No, he seems to be saying it’s OK for them to succeed (up to a point defined by him, of course) as long as it’s fulfilling a responsibility to grow our economy (i.e., benefit others). I don’t see personal economic success and benefiting others as necessarily being mutually exclusive. Obama seems to be hinting that this success is justified onlybecause others benefit too.

I would argue that socialism and planned economies, which aim to stifle or punish the individual drive for success while supposedly helping the “disadvantaged” accomplishes less of both than free markets. While the free market does a better job of enabling people to achieve personal economic success and benefiting others through the ripple effect of this success in creating opportunities for others or by generating the tax revenue the government needs to fund programs that help others. And that for me is more than enough.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Who are the 47 million uninsured?

This site contains some interesting facts regarding the hordes of uninsureds on whose behalf our friends in the government have foisted the behemoth healthcare bill upon us.

  • 9,000,000 Millionaires
  • 27,000,000 people who make more than $50,000 per year, but choosenot to get insurance
  • 22,000,000 Young adults who can afford insurance, but choose not to
  • 14,000,000 People who can already get medicaid, but choose not to
  • 11,000,000 Illegal Immigrants
  • 23,000,000 People who are actually insured. That’s right; you’ve been lied to…surprised?

Saturday, March 13, 2010

How Real are the Defects in Toyota's Cars? - Business - The Atlantic

This post by Megan McArdle does a nice job analyzing the Toyota recall controversy. It reminds me of the sudden acceleration issues Audi had in the early 1980s.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Hurt by The Hurt Locker?

As usual controversies surface during the buildup to the annual Oscar Awards ceremony about the nominees. This year the news media has harped on the criticisms about The Hurt Locker, a movie about the challenges of an Iraq bomb disposal squad. A large part of the controversy stems from a Los Angeles Times article on the various reactions, both positive and negative, to The Hurt Locker.

"The depiction of our community in this film is disrespectful," said Paul Rieckhoff, the executive director and founder of the 150,000-member Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America. "We are not cowboys. We are not reckless. We are professionals. And a lot of the film would make you think the opposite.”

Naturally, the media has picked up on this criticism while downplaying the supporters.

I saw the movie last week and believe those who feel the movie disrespects them have lost their objectivity. Why? I believe the critics drop or forget the movie’s context.

The movie starts with an episode involving the previous leader of the bomb disposal team (Explosive Ordnance Disposal, EOD). It shows how the leader and his team take extreme care to follow their EOD protocols to ensure they are using the safest methods to prevent accidental detonation of the ordinance. I won’t say what happens but the team ends up with a new squad leader, Sergeant First Class William James, who jettisons many of the safety protocols. The rest of the movie centers on the interplay with James’ teammates who are appalled by his behavior and his need for the thrill of pushing the envelope. The movie creates tension precisely because James is a renegade who doesn’t want to let the constraints of normal procedures to cramp his need for getting a rush.

Question. If the movie shows the EOD in a bad light why are the teammates upset with James’ behavior? Because he isn’t following normal procedures.

Question. How many movies have we seen about renegade cops? Or doctors? (The Fox TV series House is an example.) Or any other profession? Do we conclude therefore that all doctors and cops are rebels? No. We know that the renegade genre depends on the protagonist acting fundamentally different than his or her colleagues to create the dramatic tension. Is this such a hard concept to grasp? I think not!

This point seems so obvious that it’s almost embarrassing to bring it up. I don’t know if the movie’s critics truly miss this point or if they want their 15 minutes of fame from a media that loves to focus on the negative. The bottom line is that a controversy has been manufactured thanks to loss of objectivity.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

American Thinker Blog: Al Gore's weird, disconnected op-ed on climate change

American Thinker Blog: Al Gore's weird, disconnected op-ed on climate change

A perfect storm is brewing for the IPCC by Christopher Booker

Booker nicely summarizes the sudden unraveling of the various dire predictions of the global warming crowd. In particular he focuses on the errors that have been uncovered in the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report.

Put the errors together and it can be seen that one after another they tick off all the central, iconic issues of the entire global warming saga. Apart from those non-vanishing polar bears, no fears of climate change have been played on more insistently than these: the destruction of Himalayan glaciers and Amazonian rainforest; famine in Africa; fast-rising sea levels; the threat of hurricanes, droughts, floods and heatwaves all becoming more frequent.

All these alarms were given special prominence in the IPCC's 2007 report and each of them has now been shown to be based, not on hard evidence, but on scare stories, derived not from proper scientists but from environmental activists. Those glaciers are not vanishing; the damage to the rainforest is not from climate change but logging and agriculture; African crop yields are more likely to increase than diminish; the modest rise in sea levels is slowing not accelerating; hurricane activity is lower than it was 60 years ago; droughts were more frequent in the past; there has been no increase in floods or heatwaves.

America's future could be all Greek to us

Mark Steyn: America's future could be all Greek to us

Posted using ShareThis

A government big enough to give you everything you want isn't big enough to get you to give any of it back. That's the point Greece is at. Its socialist government has been forced into supporting a package of austerity measures. The Greek people's response is: Nuts to that.
Steyn concludes by drawing these parallels with the situation in Greece with various states in the U.S.

Think of Greece as California: Every year an irresponsible and corrupt bureaucracy awards itself higher pay and better benefits paid for by an ever-shrinking wealth-generating class. And think of Germany as one of the less-profligate, still-just-about-functioning corners of America such as my own state of New Hampshire: Responsibility doesn't pay. You'll wind up bailing out, anyway. The problem is there are never enough of "the rich" to fund the entitlement state, because in the end it disincentivizes everything from wealth creation to self-reliance to the basic survival instinct, as represented by the fertility rate. In Greece, they've run out Greeks, so they'll stick it to the Germans, like French farmers do. In Germany, the Germans have only been able to afford to subsidize French farming because they stick Americans with their defense tab. And, in America, Obama, Pelosi and Reid are saying we need to paddle faster to catch up with the Greeks and Germans. What could go wrong?

Saturday, February 27, 2010

The Warning in the Stars By David Archibald

This analysis does a nice job showing that there is a strong correlation to swings in the Earth's temperatures and the Sun.

If climate is not a random walk, then we can predict climate if we understand what drives it. The energy that stops the Earth from looking like Pluto comes from the Sun, and the level and type of that energy does change. So the Sun is a good place to start if we want to be able to predict climate. To put that into context, let’s look at what the Sun has done recently.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

The great global warming collapse by Margaret Wente

This article in Canada's The Globe And Mail nicely summarizes the meltdown in the human-caused global warming camp. The article contains a sentence that captures the essence of this growing scandal.

By exaggerating the certainties, papering over the gaps, demonizing the skeptics and peddling tales of imminent catastrophe, they've discredited the entire climate-change movement.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Climategate Analysis by John P. Costella

Late in 2009 a story broke, quickly named Climategate, about e-mails that were either leaked or hacked from the Climatic Research Unit of the University of East Anglia in the United Kingdom. The initial stories that broke centered on the reference to using a “trick” to hide the decline in earth’s overall temperatures since 1998. But, if you’ll pardon the pun, this is only the tip of the iceberg. If you want to see a more detailed discussion about this disturbing affair I strongly recommend reading the 149-page analysis published by the Science & Public Policy Institute. It details how a small cadre of scientists shaped their data to support the theory of Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW), popularized by Al Gore in his An Inconvenient Truth. It also shows how these scientists routinely resisted requests from “deniers” to confirm their conclusions and methodology. Instead of freely sharing “their” data (funded by taxpayer dollars so the data wasn’t really theirs to horde) these scientists ignored the requests or provided the bare minimum information while deriding the requestors in the private e-mails with their fellow co-conspirators.

As I’ve said in earlier posts I see this as a consequence of postmodernism in which the “truth” is what we want it to be. The facts are shaped to match our conclusions, which are shaped by our politics. It also reflects the belief that the ends (allegedly saving the earth from humans) justify the means (distorting or changing the facts if they don’t match our judgments). In other words political ends trumps inconvenient truths.

Here are a few excerpts.

Instead of seeing large collaborations of meticulous, careful, critical scientists, we instead see a small team of incompetent cowboys, abusing almost every aspect of the framework of science to build a fortress around their “old boys’ club”, to prevent real scientists from seeing the shambles of their “research”.

Phil Jones to Ray Bradley, Mike Mann, Malcolm Hughes, Keith Briffa, and Tim Osborn, regarding a diagram for a World Meteorological Organization Statement:

I’ve just completed Mike’s Nature trick of adding in the real temperatures to each series for the last 20 years (i.e. from 1981 onwards) and from 1961 for Keith’s to hide the decline.

Those thirty-three words summarize the hoax so magnificently succinctly that the Nobel Committee should consider retrieving their Peace Prize from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and Al Gore, and re-issuing it as a Literature Prize to Phil Jones.

Again, Wigley perpetuates the arrogant myth that this small club of scientists should have the right to interfere with, and ultimately veto, the review and publication process for each and every paper published in their field. Such censorship is not how a healthy discipline of science operates; indeed, any discipline that operates in this manner is not “science” at all, but mere religious dogma.

Wigley continues:

I suspect that de Freitas deliberately chose other referees who are members of the skeptics camp. I also suspect that he has done this on other occasions. How to deal with this is unclear, since there are a number of individuals with genuine scientific credentials who could be used by an unscrupulous editor to ensure that “anti-greenhouse” science can get through the peer review process (Legates, Balling, Lindzen, Baliunas, Soon, and so on). The peer review process is being abused, but proving this would be difficult.

This is a damning admission by Wigley: he acknowledges that these skeptics have impeccable scientific credentials; the only reason that they should be banned from reviewing papers for journal publication is that they don’t buy into their dogma of global warming! This email dispels any doubt that this cozy club redefined “peers” to mean “scientists who agree with us”—which makes a mockery of the entire idea of “peer review”.

The ultimate irony in all this, of course, is that skepticism is not a scientific insult, but rather an essential tenet of the scientific method. Only fundamentalist theological debates brand skepticism a heresy.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

The Pro-Life Election of Scott Brown by William R Thomas

The Atlas Society has posted an article on the recent Scott Brown victory in Massachusetts to fill the senate seat vacated by the death of Ted Kennedy. The title of the article has another meaning than you might think at first glance.

Here are some excerpts.

Republican Scott Brown has been elected to fill the U.S. Senate seat for Massachusetts that arch-Liberal Ted Kennedy had filled. Startlingly, Brown ran on a fairly free-market platform, advocating tax cuts and opposing the Federal takeover of health care. He contrasted with his opponent, Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley, not only on the economic issues, but also in advocating the ardent prosecution of the war on terror. The only policy they shared was a pro-abortion rights stance. But the election was “pro-life” in a deeper moral sense.


[O]n January 19, 2010, the people of the bluest of blue states declared, once again, that America should be the home of opportunity, growth, and wealth—of life, in other words. Let’s hope everyone in Washington heard that loud and clear.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

ClimateGate: The Fix is In

ClimateGate: The Fix is In

This is an enormous case of organized scientific fraud, but it is not just scientific fraud. It is also a criminal act. Suborned by billions of taxpayer dollars devoted to climate research, dozens of prominent scientists have established a criminal racket in which they seek government money-Phil Jones has raked in a total of £13.7 million in grants from the British government-which they then use to falsify data and defraud the taxpayers. It's the most insidious kind of fraud: a fraud in which the culprits are lauded as public heroes. Judging from this cache of e-mails, they even manage to tell themselves that their manipulation of the data is intended to protect a bigger truth and prevent it from being "confused" by inconvenient facts and uncontrolled criticism.

Golden No Longer

George Will's article, Golden No Longer, does a nice job of identifying what ails the country's current economic state by focusing on one state, California.

It took years for liberalism's redistributive itch to create an income tax so steeply progressive that it prompts the flight from the state of wealth-creators: "Between 1990 and 2007," Voegeli writes, "some 3.4 million more Americans moved from California to one of the other 49 states than moved to California from another state."

And the state's income tax -- liberalism codified -- intensifies the effects of business cycles on the state's revenue stream: During booms, the stream surges and stimulates government spending; during contractions, revenues dwindle but the new government spending continues. Voegeli says that if California's spending had grown no faster than population growth and inflation from 1992 to 2006, it would have been $65 billion less in 2006, and per capita government outlays then would have equaled not those of Somalia or Mississippi but of Oregon, which is hardly "a hellish paradigm of Social Darwinism."

It took years for liberalism's mania for micromanaging life with entangling regulations to make California's once creative economy resemble Gulliver immobilized by the Lilliputians' many threads. The state, which between 1990 and 2007 lost 26 percent of its factory jobs and 35 percent of its high-tech manufacturing jobs, ranks behind only New York, another of liberalism's laboratories, in the number of outward-bound moving vans.

It took years for compassionate liberalism to make California's welfare menu contribute to the state becoming an importer of Mexico's poverty. It took years for servile liberalism to turn the state into what Voegeli calls a "unionocracy," run by and for unionized public employees, such as public safety employees who can retire at 50 and receive 90 percent of the final year's pay for life.

By coincidence I just read a chapter in Arthur Laffer's The End of Prosperity: How Higher Taxes Will Doom the Economy--If We Let It Happen that digs even deeper into California's policy follies. I'll review it here when I'm done reading the book.