Among the issues most commonly discussed are individuality, the rights of the individual, the limits of legitimate government, morality, history, economics, government policy, science, business, education, health care, energy, and man-made global warming evaluations. My posts are aimed at intelligent and rational individuals, whose comments are very welcome.

"No matter how vast your knowledge or how modest, it is your own mind that has to acquire it." Ayn Rand

"Observe that the 'haves' are those who have freedom, and that it is freedom that the 'have-nots' have not." Ayn Rand

"The virtue involved in helping those one loves is not 'selflessness' or 'sacrifice', but integrity." Ayn Rand

For "a human being, the question 'to be or not to be,' is the question 'to think or not to think.'" Ayn Rand

30 June 2010

Do IR-Absorbing Gases Warm or Cool the Earth's Surface?

A much improved and expanded version of this post is to be published in the book Slaying the Sky Dragon: Death of the Greenhouse Gas Theory.  This post has been removed as a result.

On Some Flaws in Greenhouse Gas Global Warming

A much improved version of this post is found here.

Preface:  I realized after writing this that I had forgotten to add a term for IR absorption by so-called greenhouse gases of the IR radiation which was reflected from the surface without being absorbed in the surface.  This term is larger than that due to the radiation of IR due to the absorption of the solar radiation by the surface, but the sum of the two terms will still be smaller than the absorption by so-called greenhouse gases on the first pass through the atmosphere of incoming solar radiation.  Also, please note that the incoming IR absorption process tends to deposit energy in the atmosphere at higher altitudes, while the outgoing absorption of IR by greenhouse gases deposits that energy closer to the ground.  The discussion below is a simple attempt to see if adding IR-absorbing gases to the atmosphere tends to result in more or less warming of the surface.  The most effective warming of the surface is that radiation first absorbed by the surface, rather than somewhere in the atmosphere.  The remainder of this post is as it was earlier today posted and distributed.

I have just finished reading an excellent article by Alan Siddons called The Hidden Flaw in Greenhouse Theory on American Thinker from way back on 25 February 2010.  The article is a little slow in developing, but finishes with a death blow to the usual theory put forth by catastrophic anthropogenic global warming advocates.  I intend to explain more concisely what Siddons explained and to add comments of my own in this post which make the deathblow much more gory.

First of all, I am going to enlarge the context of the discussion.  The primary source of heat for the surface of the Earth is the radiant energy of the sun.  The solar wind of the sun, materials dumped into the atmosphere from space, heat from the deep interior of the earth, and the interplay of changes in the Earth's magnetic field and the sun's magnetic field are also contributors of heat, though the sum of these is much less than that from the sun's radiant energy spectrum of ultraviolet (UV), visible, and infra-red (IR) light.  The entire catastrophic greenhouse gas hypothesis ignores effects upon the incident IR portion of this spectrum of light from the sun.  This is foolish.

UV light is 11% of the radiant energy from the sun.  The UV light variance of 0.5 to 0.8% with the solar cycle is much larger than is the visible light variance of 0.22%.  UV light is absorbed throughout the atmosphere, but much still reaches the ground and is absorbed there.  The amount of UV radiation absorbed in the upper atmosphere is highly dependent upon the amount of ozone there.  The amount of ozone is highly dependent upon the solar wind, CFCs, and volcanic activity.  When UV light is more absorbed in the stratosphere than the ground, its surface warming effect is diminished.  The absorbed energy is re-emitted as IR radiation and much of that energy is quickly lost to space.

The entire atmosphere is transparent to visible light which is the form of 44% of the radiant energy from the sun, so aside from reflection from clouds and aerosol particles, the visible light reaches the ground or oceans and warms them near their surfaces.

Finally, the IR radiation is not absorbed by nitrogen, oxygen, and argon gases which make up 99% of the atmosphere, so a large fraction of it directly warms the Earth's surface.  Some, is absorbed by the dominant greenhouse gas, water vapor, and small amounts are absorbed by carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases.  The incoming IR radiation absorbed in the atmosphere is less effective in warming the Earth's surface than is that which is absorbed by the Earth's surface directly.  This is because some this energy absorbed in the atmosphere then is radiated again in the form of IR radiation, but now half or more of that is directed out to space.  In other words, more water vapor and CO2 in the atmosphere results in a less effective warming of the surface than does less of these gases with respect to the incoming IR energy from the sun.  The greenhouse gases have a cooling effect on the original solar radiance spectrum for the 45% of the solar energy in the form of IR.

In each case, whether UV, visible light, or IR, not all of the radiation of that form striking the Earth's surface is absorbed.  Some fraction is reflected and the fraction is very dependent on whether the ground is covered with snow, plowed earth, grasses, forests, crops, black top, or water.  There are two real ways that man does have some effect on the Earth's temperature.  He changes the surface of the earth over a fraction of the 30% of its surface which is land.  He also converts fossil and biomass fuels into heat.  Compared to the overall natural effects, these man-made effects are small, yet they are probably large compared to the effect of his adding CO2 and methane to the atmosphere.

Wherever the atmosphere is heated, there is transfer of heat.  In the outer, very low density atmosphere, the primary means of heat transfer is radiant transfer by IR emission from an energetic molecule or atom, since collisions of molecules and atoms for direct energy transfer are rare.  In the denser atmosphere, most energy transfer is due to collisions and the convective flow of masses of warmed air.  Near the Earth's surface, almost all of the energy lost by the warmed surface is due to gas molecules striking the surface and picking up heat and then colliding with other molecules to transfer heat from one to another.  Once a body of air is so heated, then masses of warmed molecules are transported upward into the cooler atmosphere at higher altitudes or laterally toward cooler surface areas by convection.  Any warmed molecule, most of which are nitrogen, oxygen, and argon will radiate IR radiation.  However, no molecule or atom at a low temperature such as that near the Earth's surface is a very effective energy radiator, since the Stephan-Boltzmann equation depends upon the fourth power of  the absolute temperature, which commonly near the Earth's surface is about 290K.  Thus, gas molecule collisions and convection are the very dominant means of heat transfer.  These processes on balance cool the surface of the Earth and redistribute some of the heat back into the upper atmosphere and cooler places such as those shaded from the sun or the arctic regions.

The favorite claim of the catastrophic greenhouse gas global warming people is that an increase of carbon dioxide and methane gas in the atmosphere will cause energy radiated into the atmosphere from the ground to be absorbed by these molecules and they will radiate half of it back toward the ground, where that energy will warm the surface again and reduce the cooling due to the ground originally radiating that heat into the atmosphere.  According to Alan Siddons, less than 1% of the cooling of the Earth's surface is due to IR emission of the surface or the gases near the surface.  More than 99% is due to direct contact and convection.

Since the dominant source of energy warming the surface of the Earth is the sun, let us do a simple calculation based upon the facts presented above.  Let us say that greenhouse gases absorb a fraction f of the incoming IR radiation from the sun, which is 45% of the sun's incoming energy.  Thus the energy absorbed by greenhouse gases from the incoming spectrum of solar energy is 0.45f and a fraction of this, say k is radiated back into space without coming near the surface.  NASA says k is 0.5, but it is actually slightly larger than that given that much of this absorption occurs at appreciable altitudes.  The total cooling due to greenhouse gases, somewhere in the atmosphere, is now 0.45fk.  Of this energy, had it become incident upon the surface as IR radiation, a part would have been reflected rather than absorbed.  The fraction that would have been absorbed is q.  The net energy then lost to the warming of the surface is then 0.45fkq.

Now, let us suppose that a fraction g of the total energy from the sun is absorbed in the Earth's surface or in the very lower part of the atmosphere.  We know that g is a larger fraction of 1 than is f, since most of the solar radiation does reach the ground, including that part in the IR part of the spectrum.  Of the energy g absorbed in the surface, only 0.01 times it is emitted as IR radiation according to Siddons.  Since the greenhouse gas content of the atmosphere is unchanged the amount of outgoing radiation, serving to cool the surface, is now 0.01gf.  A fraction j of this energy will be emitted by the IR warmed greenhouse gas molecules back toward the ground.  NASA has said this fraction is 0.5.  Let us then say j is about 0.5.  The greenhouse gas warming of the surface due to absorbing IR radiation from the ground would then be about 0.005gfq, where q is the fraction of back-reflected IR radiation that was incident upon the surface and absorbed.  Remember that some radiation is reflected.

Now we will compare the greenhouse gas cooling effect upon the incoming solar radiation of 0.45fkq to the re-warming of the surface due to 0.005gfq times the total solar radiant energy.  Breaking down the parts:
  • 0.005 is much less than 0.45, in fact it is 0.011 times as large.
  • f appears in both factors, so the comparative effect is cancellation.
  • The factor q appears in both the cooling and the warming quantities, so it cancels.
  • k is somewhat more than 0.5, while g is the surface absorptivity for the entire solar spectrum and is likely to be near 0.7, or quite comparable.
  • So let us say g and k are an approximate trade-off.
  • Thus the net cooling effect of greenhouse gases is very greatly dominant because the re-heating effect is approximately 0.01 times the cooling effect.
In sum, using a simple calculation we can approximate the effect of greenhouse gases on the surface temperature of the Earth.  It turns out that the cooling effect due to keeping incoming solar IR radiation away from the surface is about 100 times the re-heating effect proclaimed by greenhouse gas alarmists.  Now, if the effect were very large in either case, this might be cause for concern.  We would likely be better off heating our planet than cooling it.  But, then we are heating with land use changes and the release of energy from fossil fuels, so the generation of cooling CO2 may simply be compensating for these other small effects. Much more important to this issue than CO2 and methane is water vapor in any case.  So, most of this cooling effect is due to water vapor and only a small part is due to CO2 and methane.

Now, of course so much is going on here that this calculation is but an indicator of the likely net effect of greenhouse gases.  A more careful calculation would consider the different weight of IR frequencies in the original spectrum of the sun and in the Earth surface emission spectrum.  But, any changes due to these secondary issues are likely to be small compared to a factor of 100.  In any case, this calculation makes mincemeat of the usual simple rationale for greenhouse gas warming alarmism.  It is insane to focus only on the outgoing IR radiation from the Earth's surface while ignoring the large part of the sun's total incident radiation which is IR from the get-go.  It is also insane to ignore gas collisions and convection currents as mechanisms for heat transfer.

I used the greenhouse gas term in the presently conventional way, but in reality, all gases when warm radiate IR energy and as pointed out by Alan Siddons, they are all really greenhouse gases.  But, here I used the term only for those gases that absorb IR energy.

28 June 2010

The Moon Effect Called the Greenhouse Effect on Earth

Despite the fact that NASA scientists are among the foremost promoters of catastrophic global warming due to man's use of fossil fuels and carbon dioxide emissions, NASA scientists have long known that the moon exhibits a warming effect which is similar to the effect which on Earth is said to be due to greenhouse gases.  Calculations in anticipation of the Moon Landings indicated that such a net warming effect should be expected and subsequent measurements on the moon's surface during landings confirmed this effect.  What is this effect due to?  We will discuss that below, but let us first examine the greenhouse effect.

It is commonly claimed that the Earth can be treated as a black body which is in equilibrium with the incoming radiation of the sun and the outgoing radiation into space from the black body Earth.  Calculations based on this simple model indicate the Earth has an average temperature 33C warmer than it should be.  It is said to be this much warmer due to its atmosphere, in particular due to water vapor primarily and other greenhouse gases such as CO2 secondarily.

A black body absorbs 100% of the energy that falls upon it and it re-emits energy based on the Stefan-Boltzmann formula.  When the black body is in thermal equilibrium, it emits energy at the same rate as energy is absorbed.  The theory assumes the outer surface of the black body is extremely thin, though this matters little to the calculation provided the underlying material has a fixed temperature gradient with the maximum temperature on the outside surface and a radiation absorption length which is extremely short.  For the surface depth to be unimportant, the amount of radiation falling on the surface should also not be changing in time.

These are not conditions satisfied by the moon or the Earth.  The moon surface heats up when radiation from the sun is incident upon it and that heat is conducted downward into the rock and dust of the moon surface.  The local topography of the surface, the distribution of rock and dust minerals, and the local particle sizes will all affect the local depth to which heat will penetrate, the absorptivity of the surface, and the emissivity of the surface.  In addition, the moon rotates so that the amount of energy from the sun, or reflected from Earth, varies over time upon a given area.  Thus, the gradient of energy below the surface will change as the surface cools when sunlight is not incident on it.  This sub-surface heat reservoir acts to warm the surface.  This introduces a heat convection source, which is not consistent with a black body radiation source.

The situation with the Earth is much worse.  All of the problems of the moon exist for the Earth.  To which are added the fact that the Earth has a substantial atmosphere in which the radiation absorption length is long.  Large thermal gradients will exist in the atmosphere even if it were of uniform composition.  It is not.  The most important way in which is not is the wide variation of water vapor in it, and still worse, the wide variations in cloud cover.  The absorptivity of the atmosphere for solar radiation varies from place to place, as does the emissivity.  Compared to the moon, the Earth's surface also has a great variability in the important properties of absorptivity and emissivity from area to area.  The South Pacific is different than the Rocky Mountains, Antarctica is different than the Great Plains, the Siberian tundra is different than the Sahara or the Amazon rain forest.  These differences alone would create great flows of heat in convection currents even if the Earth did not rotate.  In addition, there is much more variation in the depth to which heat will be absorbed in the land areas than on the moon due to more varied compositions.  Then, the oceans and water bodies hold very large amounts of energy which is absorbed to comparative large depths straight from incoming radiation and then further distributed in convection currents to great depths and over large lateral distances.  All of these large heat flows on Earth cause it to fit the requirements of a black body radiator very poorly.

Let us return to the much simpler case of the moon.  It has no atmosphere, no vegetation, and no oceans to muck things up.  There is a paper by Martin Hertzberg, Hans Schreuder, and Alan Siddons called A Greenhouse Effect on the Moon?, which Dr. Hertzberg was kind enough to draw my attention to in early June and I have had in mind discussing its very important results ever since.  The paper notes that NASA scientists needed to calculate the expected temperatures on the moon's surface prior to a landing.  Taking into account the changing radiation on a point on the surface and assuming no heat was absorbed into the surface, the first result is:

When no radiation is incident upon the spot on the surface, the temperature falls to absolute zero!  A later calculation took into account some light reflected from Earth when sunlight was not incident.  Under that condition, the low temperature was between 30 and 40 Kelvin.  But the moon does absorb heat for some depth into its surface and that heat flows to the outer surface as the outer surface cools at "night."  So, what did NASA find the temperature profile over the course of day and night to be?

The maximum temperature of the day is no longer noon, since at noon the rock and dust has not yet reached the maximum degree of sub-surface warming.  The maximum temperature is actually afternoon, just as it tends to be on Earth.  The blue areas in the graph show when the surface temperature is cooler than in the simple black body calculation in the first graph, while the orange areas show when the temperature is warmer.  Early in the day, the surface temperature is cooler because surface energy is flowing more rapidly into the cooler sub-surface rock and dust.  Late in the day and through the night, the temperature is higher than expected by the black body calculation because heat is flowing to the surface from the sub-surface.  The average temperature is raised considerably, because while there is a slight depression of the maximum temperature in the day, there is large increase in the nighttime temperature.  By day the average temperature is cooler by 20C, but at night it is warmer by 60C.  The average temperature is raised 40C!  If the moon had an atmosphere, this would be called the greenhouse effect.

Because the Earth has an atmosphere and because it has oceans over 70% of its surface and the oceans retain huge reservoirs of heat, the variation in temperature throughout a day is much less on Earth than on the moon.  But, there is still a rise in the average temperature due to heat convection on land, in the oceans, and in the atmosphere.  Heat convection in 3-dimensions creates an effect that looks like the greenhouse effect.  Similar effects are observed for all of the planets.

It appears that if any "greenhouse effect" occurs due to CO2 in our atmosphere, that effect is very small compared to the 3-dimensional effects of distributed heat with convection heat transfer.  That this is so has long been known by NASA, which nonetheless has played a very major role in the promotion of AGW alarmism on the basis of greenhouse gases!  Once again, we find that government is not worthy of our trust.  It has promoted terrible damage to our economy on the basis of this greenhouse gas catastrophic warming nonsense.  It has been willing to put companies and many employees out of business.  It has been happy to promote programs for alternative energy that greatly increase our energy costs and threaten to degrade the quality of our energy systems in use.  It has declared CO2 a pollutant and is about to start draconian regulations at great expense, with huge additions to the bureaucracy, and terrible hours of additional paperwork, expert fees, and lawyer fees for many, many companies.  Cap and trade schemes have been put forth in its name which will enrich the politically connected, while the average family sees its energy bill go up between $1,700 and $3,500 a year.  As Obama says, our energy costs will necessarily skyrocket.

Obama may be fine with skyrocketing energy costs, but you and I should be very angry about it.  Not only is the basis in CO2 greenhouse gas theory all wrong, but none of the remediation schemes are even thought likely to benefit the climate in any significant way.  Even if the greenhouse effect were substantial, which it is not, all of the energy use restrictions are all pain and no gain.  Are we all suddenly masochists?  Don't we all have lives to live, places to go, and things we want to make or own?  What is this madness that has overcome so many of us?  Well, for some it is simple robbery.  There are those who are very happy to take advantage of the fact that most people and most Americans in particular, do not know enough science to understand how badly the wool has been pulled over their eyes.  There are no two ways about this.  The catastrophic man-made global warming scare has been a massive fraud.  There are many very evil people promoting this fraud and most of the impetus for it is coming from Democrats.  It is very important to make them pay in the elections of 2010 and 2012.

26 June 2010

Is the Sun Betraying the Catastrophic AGW Hypothesis?

The sun undergoes a solar cycle of sunspot activity of about 11 years.  The comparative intensity of cycles varies and the sunspot minimum between cycles may vary in number of sunspots and in the time it takes for sunspots to start reappearing.  Usually, the sunspot minimum lasts about 1 year.  Sunspots are cool spots on the sun's surface, but more sunspots means that the sun has thrown off more energy.  Thus, more sunspots result in more radiation being received by the Earth.  Sunspot activity has been lower than usual for some time now.

Sunspots are generated by magnetic loops that form deep inside the sun and migrate outward through the surface in a burst of energy.  This leaves the cool spot on the surface called a sunspot.  Sunspot activity is affected by two large conveyor belts of gas that cycle through the sun's interior and out through its surface carrying material and magnetic fields.  This cycle has an average period of 40 years.  David Hathaway, a physicist at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, recently made incorrect predictions that the sun would return to normal activity.  Now he is reporting that the conveyor belt flow across the sun's surface has been speeding up since 2004.  Rachel Howe and Frank Hill of the National Solar Observatory in Tucson have determined that the internal flows of matter and magnetic fields have slowed down greatly.  The slow internal speeds and the fast exterior speeds are not understood by the solar models used by Hathaway to make his predictions that the sun would soon return to vigorous activity.

Sunspot activity slowed rapidly in late 2007 as the sun went into its solar minimum between active cycles.  2008 was expected to be a year of low sunspot activity, but it was free of sunspots 73% of the time, which was the lowest level of activity observed since the 1913 minimum with 85% sunspot-free time.  Hathaway predicted that 2009 would be a very active sunspot year.  Nothing happened until December 2009, when a large group of sunspots emerged.  The new cycle has finally started, but with much less activity than expected.

William Livingston, of the National Solar Observatory in Tucson, and Matt Penn have found that the average strength of the sunspot magnetic fields has decreased greatly since 1995.  That is the same year that significant global warming stopped according to Phil Jones, the disgraced former head of the Climate Research Group at the University of East Anglia and a long-time leader of the catastrophic AGW advocates.  Livingston claims that if the decrease in magnetic field strength in the sunspots continues, in five years those fields will not be strong enough to form sunspots at all!

Michael Lockwood, professor of space environmental physics at the University of Reading in England, has used the concentrations of isotopes of elements in ice cores and tree rings to find periods of similar solar inactivity over the last few thousand years.  He found 24 such events.  In two of these cases, the sunspot activity was nearly nil for decades.  In only one case did the sunspot activity come back to record levels.  In most cases, the sunspot activity remained low.  This implies that the chances are high that the high level of sunspot activity that characterized most of the 1900s is over.  That was also the period over which most of the warming claimed by the AGW alarmists occurred.

Lockwood also says that the unusually cold winter in Europe in 2009 - 2010 was likely due to the solar inactivity.  He bases this on records going back to 1650.  In 2008, Judith Lean of the Naval Research Laboratory published a paper showing that high solar activity has a disproportionate warming effect upon northern Europe.  I would expect both of these findings to be because the climate of northern Europe is highly dependent upon the Gulf Stream, whose temperature is dependent upon solar warming of the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean.

If the sunspot magnetic fields continue to decrease in strength, sunspots may not be able to form by 2015 and we may be in for something like the Maunder Minimum of 1645 to 1715, during which sunspots nearly disappeared.  The effect in northern Europe was colder than usual winters and an average annual temperature drop of about 1 to 2C.  The Maunder Minimum caused one of the worst segments of the Little Ice Age.  Life in that time became notably more difficult.

These two articles from the Washington Post to which I have linked were written by Stuart Clark, who has a Ph. D. in astrophysics and wrote the book The Sun Kings.  These articles were first published in The New Scientist, where he frequently writes.  It is refreshing to find articles honestly presented in the Washington Post which question the idea that man's emissions of CO2 are about to boil the planet.

25 June 2010

Debt and Deficits in the Socialist Republic of France

France, under Nicholas Sarkozy, has a budget deficit of 8% of GDP this year.  This is second only to that of Greece in Europe, according to The Economist in the text of an article in the issue of 19 - 25 June 2010.  Unfortunately, a graph accompanying the article indicates that Spain has a deficit of just under 10% of GDP.  Uhmmm....they can't get everything right, after all, The Economist endorsed Obama in the election of 2008, is a stout defender of catastrophic man-made global warming, and loves cap and trade legislation!  It always pays to read things critically and carefully.

France's public debt is 84% of GDP.  Despite the recent surge in U.S. public debt, our public debt is currently 57% of GDP.  It is not expected to be long before our debt is as bad as that of France.  But the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff is so worried about our debt that he is complaining about it, as is the Tea Party movement.  We are likely to make some substantial decreases in spending when the new Congress starts in January 2011.  The French do not seem to have the will to make substantial reductions in spending.  It starts with Sarkozy.

France is making some minor cuts.  It has raised the retirement age from 60 now to 62 in 2018.  The state pension fund shortfall in 2020 will be the equivalent of $55 billion.  It expects to save less than half that amount with the increase in the retirement age.  The top income tax rate is being raised from 40% to 41% in 2011.  In 2020, civil servants will have to contribute 10.5% of pay to their pension fund, rather than the present 8.1%.  France hopes growth will be vigorous and that will spur additional tax revenues.  Most observers believe the needed growth goal will not be reached.  Euro-rules require France to reduce its deficit all the way down to 3% of GDP by 2013. 

One of the factors making spending cuts hard and hurting growth is the fact that 20% of France's employees work for the government.  France is currently spending 56% of GDP, which is more than any other Euro-zone country.  Moody's has warned that France's rising debt may endanger its AAA credit rating.  Of course, Obama wants to duplicate these factors in the U.S.  How idiocentric is that?

Peter Ward - The Flooded Earth

The July issue of Scientific American recommends the book The Flooded Earth: Our Future in a World Without Ice Caps.  The selections recommended are made by Kate Wong.  She describes Peter Ward as an earth scientist of the University of Washington.  She offers an excerpt describing how in 2135 the Great Valley of California will be largely flooded by the sea and aquifers will be polluted with salt water.  There will be no snow in the Cascade Mountains anymore.  Cars will no longer be allowed on the highways.

When I was about 4, I told my Mom that I did not want her to read fairy tales to me.  I wanted her to read about real things.  Democrats and many environmentalists are those who live still in a world of fantasy and are uninterested in the real world.  This book is one of fantasy and is intended only for the purpose of scaring people out of their wits.  Just as there is more concern spreading that less solar activity may bring on a major cooling with great real hardships for mankind, this drivel and nonsense is still trying to scare us with a melting, overheated world.  These fantasy writers have no shame.  Peter Ward is no scientist.  A scientist is first a careful observer of the phenomena of the real world and then he applies the scientific method to those observations to understand them.  Wild flights of fantasy are not scientific.  Peter Ward is merely a man-made global warming alarmist.

Shame once again on The Scientific American.

Democrat House Puts Dirty Foot in Corporations' Mouths

The Democrats were furious that the Supreme Court ruled in the Citizens United case last fall that corporations and unions could fund ads supporting or opposing candidates for federal offices during the critical periods before elections and primaries.  Facing an election bloodbath in November, they were desperate to find a way to gain some advantage.  They passed the DISCLOSE Act yesterday by a vote of 219 to 206.  Two Republicans joined the majority Democrats.  DISCLOSE stands for the Democracy is Strengthened by Casting Light on Spending in Elections Act.  The light is only cast on corporations.  It is not cast on large unions, the NRA, the AARP, or the Humane Society.  Obama supports the bill and wants the Senate to pass it.

Democrat Representative Jared Polis of Colorado said that corporations are "zombies consuming the flesh of profit."  Therefore, corporations should forfeit their freedom of speech.  They should also understand how vehement the Democrat hatred of business activity is from this statement and from this act.  One would think that business would learn that Democrats cannot be trusted with power because they are strongly opposed to people's freedom to earn a living.

The bill requires not that disclosure of who paid for the ad be available or on file, but that the CEOs of funding companies must appear in the TV ad or talk on the radio ad and disclose their funding of the ad.  This will take so much time that 15 second ads will become useless to corporations.  The more expensive 30 second ads will have more like 15 seconds of content.  In addition, corporations with $10,000,000 of government contracts will not be allowed to run election ads at all.  Companies with 20% foreign ownership or which are 5% owned by a foreign nation also will have no freedom of speech.  It is clear that this bill is unconstitutional.

The Democrat dirty trick to remove the democratic voice of businessmen from elections, was compounded by their favorite legislative dirty trick of disclosing the content of the DISCLOSE bill only the day before the vote.  Then that dirty trick was further compounded by only allowing 1 hour for the debate on the bill on the House floor!  This, after the House allowed 41 hours of floor time for the naming of new post offices!!!!  This is a mind-boggling display of hatred for business.

The two idiot Republicans who voted for the DISCLOSE Act are Joseph Cao of Louisiana, who has a record of voting for awful Democrat bills, and Mike Castle of Delaware.  Mike Castle is running for the Senate after serving 9 terms as a Representative.  If he wins the election, he would complete the four years left on Joe Biden's seat in the Senate.  It appears that Mike Castle is a RINO, which may not be too surprising given that he runs for election in Delaware.  Suppressing freedom of speech is very popular in Delaware, as the highly restricted speech allowed at the University of Delaware makes very clear.

Never allow anyone to get away with the statement that Democrats believe in freedom of speech and Republicans suppress it.  In recent times, it has been clear that Democrats are more inclined to suppress the freedom of speech than are Republicans.  Of course, it should be so clear that the suppression of the freedom of speech is unconstitutional that no party could get away with anything like the DISCLOSE Act.  It will likely be declared unconstitutional, but the Democrats are counting on it taking too long to get to the Supreme Court for them to rule that freedom of speech will prevail in the November 2010 election which has the Democrats now shivering in their hob-nailed boots.

Dems: We Don't Need No Stinking Budget!

The Budget Impoundment and Control Act of 1974 requires that a budget resolution be produced by 15 April each year in the House of Representatives.  The Pelosi House still has not produced that required budget resolution, let alone an actual budget.  First, the Democrats are divided.  One faction wants to spend lots and lots of money, none of which is covered by tax receipts.  The other faction wants to spend a little less.  Second, neither Democrat faction wants to go on record with an actual budget deficit and thereby allow easy and definitive projection of the national debt given the upcoming fatal elections.  If they produce no budget until after the election, they hope the bloodbath for the Dems will be lessened.  This is pathetic.

The Democrat chairman of the House Budget Committee complained when the GOP did not pass a budget resolution in 2006, "If you can't budget, you can't govern."  Now he and the Democrats are proving they cannot budget and cannot govern.  Obama is calling on non-security departments to suggest 5% budget cutbacks.  A Democrat proposal in the House for a 2% budget cutback will not get a vote on the floor of the House.  Without the budget resolution, each of next year's 12 spending authorization bills will have no limits. 

24 June 2010

General McChrystal and the War in Afghanistan

I have just finished reading the Rolling Stone article by Michael Hastings called The Runaway General on Gen. Stanley McChrystal, prior to yesterday, the commander of NATO's International Security Assistance Force and U.S. Forces-Afghanistan.  My sense is that Gen. McChrystal was the right man for his previous job as head of U.S. special forces operations, but was not diplomatic enough for the Afghanistan command role.  He is bright, but he too much likes kicking butt and proving he is top dog to manage the necessary cooperation of actors in Afghanistan, NATO, the Pentagon, the State Dept., the White House, the House of Representatives, and the Senate.  The number of interests he had to address was something like the number that Eisenhower had to address as Supreme Commander in Europe, except that Eisenhower had Gen. George Marshall to provide the interface with the Pentagon, the State Dept., the White House, the House of Representatives, and the Senate.  Sure, Eisenhower did have more troops to manage, but a top general should be good at that. The political management of the war in Afghanistan is a very confused and ill-manged mess.

Gen. McChrystal is more an analog to Gen. George Patton than to Gen. Eisenhower.  Gen. Patton was a great general and played a critical role in Europe in WWII, but he would have been the wrong man for Eisenhower's job.  Eisenhower had to find ways to get the most he could from Patton and from many another prickly general, many of whom were British or French.  The Rolling Stone article suggests that McChrystal simply could not get the most out of the many actors in Afghanistan, such as the U.S. Embassador Carl Eikenberry, the Special Representative to Afghanistan Richard Holbrooke, National Security Advisor Gen. Jim Jones, and VP Joe Biden.  Apparently, he did enjoy the support of Sec. of State Hilary Clinton.  Now, I have no doubt that he was bombarded with many a mickey mouse request, which must have been irksome for a fighting general.

This Obama administration is particularly ill-managed.  Pie-in-the-sky socialists simply wish things to be as they want them.  They wish that everyone had health insurance, so it must be made to be so, somehow, they do not care or know how.  They wish the poor had more money and better homes, so it must be made so, somehow, they do not know how or care how.  Socialism is divorced from reality.

Socialists pass two thousand page bills that legislators have not read and do not understand.  The bulk of the bill is a paper weight which is a pretense at addressing an issue the socialists want to change.  The bulk is to hide the basic fact that they have no clue on how to actually bring about any given stated desire to improve conditions for some broad interest group or other, except if the interest group is a narrow one.  The socialists disdain for management is also evident in the generally poor management of the many executive branch departments under Democratic administrations.  The terrible management under FDR and Truman, Johnson, Carter, Clinton, and now Obama are symptoms of a lack of socialist concern for good management.

One indicator of this has been the reports I have from old friends I worked with in the 1980s in the Navy Department over the years.  The downward drift of the Navy Dept. management has generally been steady, but it accelerates under the more socialist administrations.  Under Obama, the mickey mouse regulations and requirements, that keep people who want to do their jobs well from doing so, has skyrocketed.  The choices for management positions are particularly poor.  The computer systems and the incredible cost of the contracts paid for the outside management of these inadequate and inefficient systems that government employees must use boggle the mind.  Showing his unsuitableness for the position he held in Afghanistan, Gen. McChrystal told the Rolling Stone reporter he had voted for Obama.  That was a sure indicator of a lack of judgment!  How he voted was also something he should not have talked about.

Such an otherworldly mentality as that of the socialists is not well-understood by most military men.  They must have some contact with reality and have a real ability to manage men and warfare, or the results are soon apparent in American deaths and a bogged down war.  Many of America's military men come from the same stock of Americans that Tea Party Americans come from.  They commonly do believe that the U.S. is exceptional and they believe that they are fighting to preserve our freedoms and our Constitution.  Military officers may, in most cases, not have a very sophisticated viewpoint on American history and of political theory, but their knowledge of both is usually greater than that of most Americans.  At least they have studied something about America's wars in many cases.  They are also people who have lived in several different states and have often been abroad and learned that most of the world suffers without the kinds of freedom we have in America.  As mentioned above, they are forced more than politicians and bureaucrats generally are to deal honestly and rationally with reality.

A theater commander for a major war effort is a man who must have very special insight and wisdom, as well as intelligence.  Apparently, Gen. McChrystal has the intelligence, but he was lacking in wisdom at the level required for the job he had.

Afghanistan is a country primitive beyond the comprehension of most Americans.  The social organization of Afghanistan is essentially pre-Medieval.  It is of the Dark Ages.  It is a land of clans, tribes, and warlords.  It is saddled with a primitive religion and particularly primitive versions of that primitive religion.  It would take decades to transform the country to anything resembling a modern country, and that supposes that the people there were interested in such a transformation.  They generally are not.  They are simply suspicious of anyone who is not of their own clan, even within their own tribe.  Then each tribe is very suspicious of every other tribe.  Force and treachery has always ruled their lives.  They have no concept of free market cooperation.  They have no concept of the rights of the individual.  These are Enlightenment ideas which it took Europe at least 800 years to develop from the time when Europe was something like Afghanistan.  Of course, with more readily available technology, communications, and travel, Afghans could make that transformation much more quickly, but it still must take a couple of generations or more.

It is not in America's interest for us to maintain a counterinsurgency or any other operation in Afghanistan for two or more generations.  Our purpose in going there was to oust Al-Qaeda and their hosts, the Taliban.  A plausible response to that need may well have been the lower level effort in Afghanistan of the Bush administration.  Though I suspect that effort had too much nation-building in it.  Strangely, the Obama administration has adopted the policy advocated by Gen. McChrystal for an even greater effort in nation-building.  Afghanistan is so much more primitive than Iraq, that I do not believe this effort is in our national interest and I do not believe there will be any chance of getting out of it in reasonable time with positive results.  Most likely our policy should be little more than to go in locally and disrupt any Al-Qaeda or other terrorist bases of operation.  The McChrystal - Obama policy is not in our national interest and it will not work, so a change of commanders may facilitate a change of policy.

While I have read and thought about war and its history since I became fascinated with history in the fourth grade, I have not carefully studied the Afghan war.  My Dad was a career naval aviator and studied and taught at the Naval War College and I enjoyed many discussions with him when growing up.  I was drafted and served in the Army in Vietnam.  I have read about the wars of the Greeks, the Persians, the Hittites, the Egyptians, the Romans, the Franks and Visigoths, the Scythians, the Israelis, the Carthaginians, the Babylonians, the Assyrians, the Bohemians, the Dutch wars, the Chinese, the Japanese, the Mongols, the Vikings, the Celts, the Angles and the Jutes, the Swedes, the Russ and the Russians, the wars of independence from Spain in Latin America, the Hundred Year's War, the Thirty Year's War, the Burgundian wars, the Polish wars, the Cossacks, the Napoleonic wars, the Prussian wars, native American wars, and all of the American wars.  I have plenty of context for war generally, but still I have not the detailed knowledge of present-day Afghanistan to be formulating the best strategy for the U.S. to follow there.  But, I am quite sure the McChrystal - Obama strategy is not in America's best interest and that we should be formulating a strategy with a much more modest goal.

23 June 2010

Chuck Roger: "Leader with a Plan' Invites a Health Care Nightmare

Chuck Roger wrote a well-done post on American Thinker way back on 6 June 2010. Obama's man to head up the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) is the Harvard professor Donald Berwick. Berwick is a romantic about the British National Health System (NHS), for which he gushes love. He also has this to say about us in Roger's words:
The American people are too simple to choose from "an array of products" in "a system as massive and complex as health care. That is for leaders to do."
Roger goes on to characterize the British NHS as:
The amorous Dr. Berwick wants American health care to mimic the NHS, which, according to Cato Institute's Michael Tanner, has three-quarters of a million patients waiting to enter hospitals. The U.K. had hoped to achieve a wait time of less than eighteen weeks by 2008. The deadline now passed, the NHS hopes to improve on an abysmal 30 to 50 percent of patients seeing specialists within eighteen weeks. Shockingly, each year, 50,000 queued-up NHS patients become too sick to undergo what might have been life-saving surgeries.

In early 2009, at one hospital alone, Britain's Healthcare Commission reported 1,200 deaths attributable to "appalling standards of care," "patients left for hours in soiled bedclothes," unattended injured people "covered in blood and without pain relief," and patients receiving wrong or no medication. Also in 2009, London's Daily Telegraph documented nearly 400 deaths a year at two hospitals that lacked "basic nursing skills" and made a habit of parking untreated patients in emergency areas for ten hours.
This is how Obama and Berwick want the American health care system to work and they actually think this is an improvement.  They are both otherworldly aliens.  Remember that 50,000 NHS patients a year never get the chance to have surgeries they have long waited for because their condition deteriorated too much during the wait.  The population in the United States is about 5 times that of the United Kingdom.  The proportional number of fatal waits in the U.S. would be 250,000 people a year.  Do you want one of those people to be you or someone you love?

Of course Berwick and Obama figure that is just another dumb American dying who is incapable of managing his own health care choices.  Besides, fewer people is good for the environment according to numerous of Obama's chosen advisers.

21 June 2010

Soros, the Podesta Brothers, BP, Petrobras, NBC, and GE

George Soros provided the money and the impetus to set up John Podesta as President of the Center for American Progress or CAP.  John Podesta used to be Bill Clinton's Chief of Staff from 1998 to 2001.  He is now a Visiting Professor of Law at the Georgetown University Law Center.  He also was co-head of the Obama transition team and helped to select many of the top officials in the Obama administration.  Years ago he set up a lobbying company with his brother Tony.  Tony and their lobbying company The Podesta Group work for BP and for NBC, which is owned by GE.

George Soros funded MoveOn.Org heavily to help elect Obama.  BP and its employees have contributed over $3.5 million to candidates for federal office over the last 20 years.  It gave Obama the largest single chunk of that money during his brief four years in the Senate and during his presidential campaign.  BP also spent $15.9 million just last year on lobbying.  Much of that lobbying money was handled by Tony Podesta.  BP is also tireless in advertising how green it is.  Another company tireless in advertising how green it is, is GE.  Its organ NBC is equally tireless in promoting the catastrophic man-made global warming alarmism and whatever the latest environmental disaster is supposed to be.  GE is the biggest beneficiary of the SmartGrid idea of the power grid, which was heavily funded with stimulus money.  BP was perhaps the beneficiary of an especially light-handed regulation by the federal government, which appears to have allowed it to take many shortcuts.

Soros is heavily invested in Petrobras of Brazil and Hess Oil of the U.S.  Back in August of 2009, Soros turned his common stock in Petrobras into preferred stock, which had a lower price and offered 10% more in dividends, just a couple of days before Obama pledged $2 billion of loan money to PetroBras, the national oil company of Brazil, which produces a healthy profit most years.  This Obama pledge boosted the value of Soros' stock.  Both Petrobras and Hess Oil are heavily involved in deep water drilling along with BP.  While the Obama administration early-on put restrictions on shallow water Gulf of Mexico oil drilling, it allowed the deep water drilling being done by the big players such as Hess and BP to proceed.  Hess is expected to be dependent upon deep water drilling in the Gulf for 22% of its new oil supplies, while BP is expected to depend on it for 21% of its new oil.  Soros is also heavily invested in Canadian oil, which is not affected by the general cut-backs on oil drilling leases made by Obama. 

The most recent halt to all deepwater oil drilling would have hurt Hess Oil, but this may explain why Obama was trying to get BP to pick up all the expenses of the other companies engaged in drilling who were affected by the moratorium on drilling.  Soros had also reduced his Hess holdings in the First Quarter by 16.1%, while he increased his Petrobras holdings by 17.7%.  This was the right thing to do given the then upcoming deep water drilling moratorium in the Gulf.  Drilling platforms are now moving out of the Gulf and many are going to Brazil to drill for Petrobras.  It is reasonable to believe that Soros had plenty of warning about the upcoming moratorium given his many deep-throated allies in the Obama administration.  Soros increased his holdings in Suncor Energy, the Canadian oil sands extractor and wind power plant company, by 22.4% in the First Quarter.  Suncor Energy likes to tout its interests in sustainable energy.  The federal government prevents any American competitors with its many oil sands development restrictions, heightened by its ownership of many of the best deposits.

Given the low ethical standards of this Obama administration, we had best keep a sharp eye on George Soros, BP, Hess Oil, GE, NBC, Petrobras, and all of the subsidized and mandate-benefiting "sustainable" and "alternative" energy companies.  They have all been pitiless in taking advantage of the American People.   Fortunately, Glenn Beck is also trying to focus attention on these nefarious actors.

Alvin Greene - The Considered Choice of SC Democrats for the Senate

Members of the House and Senate are generally not held in high regard by Americans in recent years and they are held in still lower regard now than ever.  Republicans all over the country are looking for candidates who will be more serious about ruling the country constitutionally.  What are Democrats doing?  We have an interesting datum in the Democrat primary in South Carolina in the race for the Democrat nomination for the Senate as candidate to face the Republican incumbent Jim DeMint.  Now, Jim DeMint is someone the Democrats find pretty annoying, so one would think they would be eager to replace him in the Senate.

The Democrat primary decision was between Vic Rawl, a white American who was a former state representative and a circuit judge and Alvin Greene, a black American with no job, living with his parents, no campaign organization and no campaign website.  Mr. Greene does have a felony arrest for showing a pornographic picture to a young college woman.  It also appears that Mr. Greene may have less than average intelligence.  Of course, nothing says a man with no job and with less than average intelligence can run for the Senate.  It is not, in fact, clear that he would be entirely out of place in the Senate.

424,893 Republicans voted in the South Carolina primary, while only 197,380 Democrats voted in the primary.  Of the Republican voters, 97.1% voted for a Senate candidate, but among the Democrats only 86.2% did.  Of the 170,221 Democrats who voted for the Senate race candidate, Greene won 59% of the vote or about 100,430 votes.  In the 2008 Democrat primary between Obama, Clinton, and Edwards, 530,000 votes were cast and 55% of these, or about 291,500 votes, went to Obama.  In that vote, 55% of the Democrat voters were black, which again is about 291,500 voters.  The 100,430 votes Greene needed was only about a third of this number.

No Senator from South Carolina has ever been black.  Alvin Greene very likely could count on the majority of black votes because he was black and might become the first black Senator ever from South Carolina.   In addition, this novel chance to vote for a black man for the Senate, may have drawn more black Democrats to the polls than usually would appear for a non-presidential year vote.  It is also said that being listed first on the ballot is commonly worth about 5% of the vote, which is where Greene was listed.  So, if Greene received all the votes of black Democrats and they were the same 55% of the Democrat voters they were in the 2008 primary and he got a 5% boost for being listed first, then Greene would have 60% of the votes.  Perhaps a few black voters did not vote for him, because he only got 59% of the vote.

Despite this plausible explanation of Greene's victory over Rawl, there was much speculation, entirely without evidence, that Republicans had somehow manipulated Greene's win.  Yet, the Republican primary to choose a gubernatorial candidate was the big draw and the Republican turnout was twice the Democrat turnout.  There was no evidence for significant Republican cross-over to vote in the uninteresting Democrat primary.  There was speculation that the Republicans paid the $10,400 registration fee to be put on the ballot for Greene, but no one can offer a good reason why they would do that.  Greene says he paid the fee with money he saved while in the Army.

It appears clear that the Democrats were simply reluctant to allow that their voters would pick such an unqualified man for the Senate.  But they did and the Rawl attempt to have a re-do on the primary has been rejected.  The effort to get Mr. Greene to resign his candidacy has failed.  Alvin Greene will be the Democrat standard bearer against Jim DeMint in the 2010 election.  The Democrat elitists will just have to be embarrassed by this equal opportunity candidate, who appears to have won the primary election fair and square.  This does not say much positive about the seriousness and responsibility of South Carolina Democrats, but that is no surprise.  How do you think we got a House and a Senate which are so little respected?

Chavez's Socialist Venezuela Sees Food Rot in Government Warehouses

Food prices have risen by 41% in Venezuela during the last 12 months, despite the recession.  Venezuela imports about 70% of its food.  The socialist government of Hugo Chavez has taken over between 20 and 30% of the distribution of staple foods.  Chavez is now threatening to take over Polar, the nation's largest private food processor, brewer, and miller.  Government supermarkets offer discounts of up to 40%, but still the rise in food prices has generally continued.  Chavez blames this on the black market and now has army soldiers raiding private groceries and confiscating food.  This was brought on by the revelation that 80,000 tons of food, including meat and powdered milk, have rotted in government warehouses.  Chavez is embarrassed, so he is making a show of blaming private sector businessmen for the food shortages and replacing the rotted food with stolen food.

Despite a huge oil income, socialist Venezuela is following the long string of socialist countries which cannot feed its people.  The equality promised the poor will result in the mass starvation of the poor, and perhaps some of the wealthy also.  There are widespread problems in most of Latin America, but socialism is not the path to their correction.  One would think that lesson would have been learned by now.  Ignorance and foolishness reign in socialist Venezuela.

19 June 2010

David Kelley: Whose Environment?

David Kelley, founder of The Institute of Objectivist Studies and now Chairman of The Atlas Society, has written a very interesting, and for me enjoyable, essay in which he explores the concept of the environment.  He notes that environment is a highly abstract concept.  He continues:
It refers to the totality of external conditions that an organism of a particular type can interact with and that affect its survival, as opposed to its internal structure and processes.  For every species there is a different environment, set by its nature.
This sounds like what I learned in biology in the 10th grade, but that knowledge has been lost in our government-run, politically correct modern schools and in our media and political discussions.  Kelley goes on to ask:
What is the referent of "the environment"?  The answer is that the term doesn't have a referent, because it is not intended to do real cognitive work.  It is a political code-word, like "family values," that signals allegiance to a set of causes.  These causes relate in diverse ways to our physical environment.  Some of the particular causes are reasonable, some are not.  But my point is that they are not held together by a coherent ideology, even a false one.  They are held together by various unexamined assumptions (e.g., resources are limited, business is rapacious), feelings (fear of exhausting resources, guilt about prosperity), and images (dark satanic smokestacks, the beautiful blue-green planet from space).  In this respect, "the environment" is what Ayn Rand called a floating abstraction, which acquires its content through emotions and associations rather than by derivation from reality.
Kelley goes on to talk about the environment of human beings as a species.  I am sure you will find it a delight to read his essay.  Please take the time to do so, for as he says, we will never
succeed in creating a free, rational, and -- in the sense of the term -- a fully humane society until we establish the right conceptual framework in which to think about specific issues.

The Real Party of NO!!! or really of HELL NO!!!!

The Economist endorsed Obama prior to the election.  The most recent issue of The Economist, of 12 - 18 June 2010, has a cover article called The risks of "Hell, no!" and an editorial called What's wrong with America's right - Too much anger and too few ideas.  America needs a better alternative to Barack Obama.  The editorial goes on to say this:  "Many of America's most prominent business leaders are privately as disappointed by the right as they are by the statist Obama."  The editorial bemoans the fact that there is a civil war going on in the Republican party and the wrong side is generally winning.  It makes it clear that the editors detest the Tea Party movement and its affect upon the Republican party.  They are cheering for the Republican moderates, those same establishment types who just want a slower, but steady movement toward socialism, rather than the abrupt revolt and transformation of Obama and his socialist hordes.

The main article complains that not a single House Republican voted for the stimulus package in January 2009.  This was apparently a bad thing, even though it is now clear that the stimulus package was in fact just the left's wish list of new government programs designed to undermine the private sector, not to stimulate it.  It is clear that the stimulus bill discouraged the private sector from hiring.  The paltry few jobs saved or added due to that bill were almost all government jobs.  Late in the article it notes that: "Massive stimulus spending has barely dented the jobless numbers and has pushed the deficit to vertiginous heights."  One wonders where they found a dent at all.

The article complains that not a single Republican in the House or Senate voted in favor of health reform.  Apparently, the assumption is that ObamaCare, despised by most Americans, should have been supported by the opposition party, irrespective of its myriad problems, including its unconstitutionality and the fact that it did not actually even spell out a plan, having delegated much of that task to 137 executive branch departments and panels.

The article bemoans the fact that Bobby Jindal, the governor of Louisiana, says the Republican opposition is not just No, but Hell No!  It complains:
Even mainstream Republican politicians now portray themselves as the thin red line defending America's constitution, liberties and moral values from an arrogant president who is determined to appease America's enemies, drown future generations in debt and turn God's own country over to a godless socialism.
Well, yes, and this is a good thing that they have finally been forced to actually oppose socialism and to actually defend the Constitution, as those who have been in federal office or in the military previously have sworn to do.

Basically, the assumption of The Economist is, just as it is with American socialists, that doing something is a matter of giving the government a new power and having it decide what values will be allowed to be pursued and what the rules for pursuing them will be.  This is another example of the Stolen Concept.  The assumption is that nothing is being done if the government is not doing it.  The fact is that when the government takes on new powers and mandates certain actions while using force to deny other actions, it denies many more actions and choices than it enables.  Government itself is the primary agent of NO!!!!! 

When an American demands, angrily or not, that the government be legitimate and fulfill its constitutionally limited role, this is not metaphysically a fundamental statement of NO!!!  Instead, it is metaphysically and basically a statement that:
  • We the People need values in order to live our own individual lives.
  • We the People are capable of rationally choosing our own values.
  • We the People, having freedom of conscience and the right to think for ourselves, have the right and the responsibility to choose our own values.
  • We the People, each and everyone of us, has an individual character and have individual values and needs, which we assert the equal right to explore, develop, exercise, and pursue for our individual happiness.
  • The individual American asserts the positive declaration that he will manage his own life.
  • The individual American will cooperate with others of his own choosing in a free market of ideas, goods, services, and relationships to pursue his values for the sake of his own happiness.
Now let's examine how this positive assertion of life-living individual effort is transformed by the socialist (Democrat, Progressive, Liberal, Fascist, or Communist).   We find them making these very negative statements with strong limits on individual choice and actions.  We find that the socialist, or even The Economists moderate, is the agent of NO!!!!, or even of Hell, NO!!!!  The equivalent statements are:
  • A society needs some values so that the basic needs of many can be achieved, though many of the needs of many of the people will be ignored as unimportant.
  • The people are mostly ignorant and evil, so an elite of college-educated and properly indoctrinated Progressive people will determine which values the government will indoctrinate the masses in and how that government will discourage any other values the ignorant and stubborn masses may choose.
  • Only society has rights and those rights are determined by the government.  Individuals are not sovereign and should not try to think for themselves, but should instead accept the indoctrinated values of the state.
  • What is all this individual stuff and nonsense?  You are a Social Security number and a member of various groups.  The group of your race, the group of your gender, and the group of your income define you fully and adequately.  The state will, based on these few parameters, decide what the course of your life will be.
  • The government will micromanage your life with rules too complex for you to understand, but much too simple to deal with your individual natures.
  • The government will severely limit the freedom of the individual to associate with others and to trade with others in a free market of ideas, goods, services, and relationships.
The real party of NO!!!! or really of HELL NO!!!! is the party that will not allow individuals the choice of their own values, which will not allow them to explore, develop, and exercise their individual natures, which will not allow them to pursue the many rich variations of their values in free associations with others, and will not allow them the hope of individual happiness.

In life, the assertion of "YES, I can and will" requires that we act to reign in the desire of governments and our representatives in the government to expand its powers and to hold it back within its constitutionally few enumerated powers.  Thus, politically, the People must be constantly saying "NO, HELL NO!!!!!" to those many who wish to expand government and rule the People more firmly and with many more constraints.  But more fundamentally, and more metaphysically, we say that NO to government in order to preserve our individual control of our choice of values and of the many actions we will need to take to pursue those values and our individual happiness.  Living human life as self-directed individuals, is a massive assertion of YES, we are capable of living our own lives and it is our own responsibility to choose our individual values and the principles upon which we will manage our own lives.  We must throw off the excessive limits of big government in order to assert the value of our individual lives in all the richness and complexity of our choices and actions in free associations with other highly individuated people.

We must never tire of asserting that we are committed to that most fundamentally and metaphysically important recognition of the critical role and the sovereignty of the individual human being in all political discussion and decision making.  Each individual has the equal right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness and socialism cannot recognize the nature of the individual, his importance, or his equal rights.  Socialism is necessarily the Party of NO because it denies individuality, the values of the individual, individual rights to thought and actions, and the importance of individual happiness.

17 June 2010

You can keep your health care plan -- It's a lie

Documents from a project of the Labor Dept., Health and Human Services Dept., and the IRS to examine the effects of ObamaCare on existing employer-based health care plans claim that 51% of employers will have to give up their current health care plans by 2013.  That constant refrain that "If you like your present plan, I guarantee you can keep it." was the usual Obama tactic of saying anything to get more control over our lives and to diminish the private sector.  There is no pain in lying when lying is the path to socialism.

Current employer-based coverage will not be grandfathered and will be subject to ObamaCare if compared to 23 March 2010:
  • Any benefit related to treatment or diagnosis is lost or reduced.
  • Any increase in cost-sharing, such as co-insurance occurs.
  • Deductibles or out-of-pocket limits rise by more than medical inflation plus 15%.
  • An increase in co-payments greater than medical inflation plus 15% or medical inflation plus $5 occurs.
  • The employer's share of the premium decreases more than 5%.
  • Any new policy, certificate, or contract of insurance issued ends grandfather coverage.
Small employers with 3 to 99 employees are expected to be no longer able to offer their present plans in 66% of the companies.  Only 45% of large employers are likely to lose their present plans.  The study says that 69% of all companies will lose their plans in their worst-case scenario.  I am puzzled about why they were addressing companies with fewer than 50 employees, unless this means that while they will not be penalized with a tax, at least initially, they will also not be allowed to continue their present plans unless they meet the new ObamaCare mandate.

There is one exception to the above conditions.  The last bulleted item does not apply to collective bargaining contract provisions relating to health care insurance.  Such plans can change insurance companies.  Labor unions are once again an Obama favorite and unions members have special, unequal rights compared to the rest of us.  The General Welfare be damned, if you are among the anointed by the socialists now ruling us all.  It is all about Special Interest or Factions now and their taking advantage of most of the People.

16 June 2010

Democrats Want Control of Oil Slush Fund

The Wall Street Journal has a good article on several bad policy moves the Democrat Congress wants to make with respect to the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.  As usual, these socialists are not about to let a crises go unexploited.  The article notes that among these misbehaviors are:
  • A "public announcement by Attorney General Eric Holder that his Department had opened a criminal probe of the spill, a fact usually kept under wraps to protect the innocent."
  • Obama pressured BP to suspend its stock dividends.
  • "Democrats in Congress are preparing to lift their own $75 million liability cap and apply that retroactively to BP, another move of dubious legality."
  • The Democrats want to set up a $20 billion oil spill slush fund to be controlled by the Democrats to make payments to reimburse the injured, though a court-controlled reimbursement system without political influence already exists.
  • Just " last week Democrats on Capitol Hill wanted to siphon money out of the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund—established in 1986 and funded by oil taxes to help clean-up spills—to pay for their extension of unemployment benefits. The history of such government funds is that they are always raided for politically favored purposes."
The only problem I have with the article was the qualifier at the end of the third bullet above.  There is nothing of dubious legality in retroactive or ex post facto laws.  The Constitution is very clear about such ex post facto laws.  Article 1, Section 9 of the Constitution says "No Bill of Attainder or ex post facto Law shall be passed." A retroactive change to the $75 million liability cap is an ex post facto law and it is clearly unconstitutional. But as we know, our Democrat Congress cares not a fig about the Constitution.

The Democrat Congress and Obama only care about exploiting crises to pay off its benefactors and favored special interests and to grab more power.  This is why they want an oil spill slush fund that they control.

15 June 2010

EPA Rewrites the Clean Air Act for CO2

The Obama EPA has ruled that CO2 is a dangerous pollutant and is to be regulated under the Clean Air Act of 1970.  This act was not intended to regulate CO2.  It was intended to regulate such gases as SO2 and NO2 and the regulated emissions threshold was set at 250 tons per year as a result.  The 2006 case of Massachusetts v. EPA was decided by the Supreme Court by a 5-4 decision and ruled that the EPA was empowered to make an endangerment decision on CO2, then widely claimed to be the cause of catastrophic man-made global warming due to the use of fossil fuels, such as coal and oil.  The EPA has since declared that CO2 emissions are emissions of a pollutant that it will regulate them under the Clean Air Act.  This ruling has been challenged with many lawsuits, see here and here.

The 250-ton per year pollutant level in the Clean Air Act requires that every establishment emitting that amount of a pollutant be restricted from doing so. If CO2 is such a pollutant, then the 280 Prevention of Significant Deterioration pre-construction permits per year will shoot up to an estimated 41,000 per year. The present 14,700 Title V operating permits per year will become over 6 million! This is why the EPA is trying to use a tailoring rule to change the legislated 250 ton per year requirement of the Clean Air Act to a limit two orders of magnitude larger of 25,000 tons per year for CO2. This is unconstitutional and we can be certain that environmentalists will challenge this to force the EPA to regulate smaller and smaller emitters of CO2.  Opponents of the regulation of CO2 emissions under the Clean Air Act should be able to challenge the EPA's change from the clearly legislated and required threshold of 250 tons of emissions per year, to force the EPA to stop claiming the Clean Air Act as their authority for regulating those emissions.

Just as the economic damage and the human carnage of the high energy tax on carbon or the cap and trade legislation has kept the Senate from passing a bill to that purpose, despite the House having passed such a ridiculous bill, the consequences of the EPA enforcing the Clean Air Act for CO2 emissions would be catastrophic.  This is why it is desperately trying to change the CO2 emissions limits, though it does not have the legislative power to do so.  The EPA will have a terrible political backlash on its hands if it tries to regulate CO2 emissions at a 250 ton level.  Apartment buildings, bakeries, restaurants, and many more very moderate sized businesses would then have to deal with the EPA's emissions regulatory paperwork, legal, and expense nightmare.

The Politcal Spectrum and Economic Wrongheadedness

Daniel B. Klein, professor of economics at George Mason University, worked with pollster Zeljka Buturovic to characterize the relative degree of determined wrongheadedness of Americans self-identified as one of the following:
  • Very Conservative
  • Conservative
  • Libertarian
  • Moderate
  • Liberal
  • Progressive/ Very Liberal
They say they were out to measure the relative degree of economic enlightenment, but this is not an accurate a way of stating what they really did.  They rated responses to economic questions based on the responses:
  • Strongly agree
  • Somewhat agree
  • Somewhat disagree
  • Strongly disagree
  • Not sure
Suppose the correct answer to the question is Strongly Agree.  They counted up the responses that were strongly wrong, namely those responding with Somewhat disagree and Strongly disagree.  The answer Not sure was not considered strongly wrong.  Thus, this was not a test for economic knowledge, which it has been mistakenly characterized as being.  Instead, it is a test for those who do not understand economics and who refuse to recognize that they do not understand it.  It is a test for the pretense of knowledge which does not exist!

What were the statements?  What are the correct answers?
  1. Restrictions on housing development make housing less affordable.  Answer: Strongly agree
  2. Mandatory licensing of professional services increases the prices of those services.  Answer: Strongly agree.
  3. Overall, the standard of living is higher today than it was 30 years ago.  Answer: Strongly agree.
  4. Rent control leads to housing shortages.  Answer: Strongly agree.
  5. A company with the largest market share is a monopoly.  Answer:  Strongly disagree.
  6. Third World workers working for American companies overseas are being exploited.  Answer:  Strongly disagree.
  7. Free trade leads to unemployment.  Answer: Strongly disagree.
  8. Minimum wage laws raise unemployment.  Answer:  Strongly agree.
While it may allow one a faster response to these questions if one has previously thought about them, most of these statements are easy to think through and come to the correct answer.  For instance: restrictions on housing development will mean such things as a local government refusing to allow housing to be built on parcels of land in the county or town.  This must cause those parcels on which housing can be placed to be priced more highly, since the government is putting the restrictions on other land because otherwise housing would be placed on it.  Thus, the demand for housing is greater than the amount of land which will be made available, so the prices of that land will be bid upward.  Housing will be more expensive as a result.  There are other types of restrictions, such as building codes and requirements to use union labor or licensed tradesmen in the building, but all of these restrictions are placed precisely because they must be since they will raise costs.

Question 5 is really just an understanding of a definition, but as such, it requires some knowledge of economics as a study.  Question 3 requires some knowledge of how people lived 30 years ago, so it requires a bit of historical knowledge, which many young people may find challenging to come by.  Since young people are indoctrinated by the public schools and universities to become liberals and commonly have little historical knowledge of 30 years ago, this question may be a bit hard for some of them.

Question 7 is a more abstract question to which the answer is somewhat harder to think through on one's own.  But, Adam Smith and many others long ago figured this out.  It is reasonable to expect that the answer should be common knowledge today.  There are many special interests and political groups which have spread claims that free trade leads to unemployment, at least in the developed countries.  They claim that low-cost-of-labor countries are stealing American jobs.  But their wages are lower because they are less productive or production in their countries is less efficient or involves greater investment risks.  Many Americans only see the company making buggy whips whose product is now more cheaply produced in Kenya, so the American company has laid off workers.  They fail to see that the workers who were once employed making buggy whips are now becoming employed to make biomedical prostheses and infrared sensors and the old buggy whip manufacturing building is now being used to produce Kindles.  Study after study has shown that free trade leads to more jobs in the U.S. and across the world, while raising most people's standard of living.  But, it is clear that it is helpful to know some economics to understand the right answer to this question.  But also remember, one does not need to know the right answer, one only needs to know what one knows and what one does not know.  The answer 'I do not know' is not wrong.  It is not wrongheaded.  It is not a pretense to knowledge one does not have.

So, what are the results of this test for economic wrongheadedness?  Who across the political spectrum is found to be a big-headed pretender to knowledge?  Each very wrongheaded answer adds 1 to the score of each person.  The average for each person in each self-identified part of the political spectrum is given below.
  • Very conservative, 1.30
  • Libertarian, 1.38
  • Conservative, 1.67
  • Moderate, 3.67
  • Liberal, 4.69
  • Progressive/ Very liberal, 5.26
Note the very large jump in wrongheadedness between conservatives and moderates.  Those who are very conservative, libertarian, or conservative do not have a great tendency to pretend to economic knowledge which is in fact wrong.  Moderates are much more like liberals in their tendency to be wrongheaded.  The more liberal one is, the greater the pretense to knowledge in general and the more frequently that knowledge is economically wrong.  Progressives, which Obama and Hilary Clinton are, are very pretentious and very wrongheaded economically as a group.

Progressives answered the monopoly question badly wrong 31% of the time, while conservatives were badly wrong only 13% of the time.  Libertarians were so wrong only 7% of the time.

The Progressives were wrong on the living standard comparison 61% of the time, while conservatives were wrong 13% of the and libertarians were wrong 21% of the time.

Broken down on party lines the results were:
  • Libertarians, 1.26
  • Republicans, 1.61
  • Democrats, 4.59
Another huge leap in economic wrongheadedness is found for Democrats.  So-called conservative Democrats clearly do little to improve the party standing relative to Liberals with the wrongheaded score of 4.69!

Ms. Buturovic noted that men scored better than women, as did married people better compared to those who were single.  She noted that particularly poor scores were earned by those who never shop at Wal-Mart or who consider themselves residents of the 'planet Earth', rather than of America or the city or town where they live.  She says, "It took many centuries for basic economic concepts and principles to be discovered so, in a sense, it is not that surprising that some people are having trouble grasping them."

Of those who have had trouble grasping the principles and concepts of economics, unusual numbers have become politicians, book writers, newspapermen, network news announcers of the mainstream media, public school teachers, and university professors outside of economics departments.  The elitists who believe they should rule America through socialist governments are happily wrongheaded about basic economics concepts and eager to force their mistakes on the rest of us.  We can readily see that in efforts of government to micromanage the economy through long-discredited central planning, the constant meddling in our personal lives, the excessive taxes, the still more excessive government spending, the self-indulgent salaries and benefits of government workers, the claims of government job creation in the private sector, and the many special interest groups chosen as the recipients of income and wealth redistribution thefts.

14 June 2010

The Jones Act Prevents Gulf Oil Clean-Up

As Charles Krauthamer has pointed out, the reason wells are being drilled in the deep water Gulf of Mexico is because environmentalists have exerted such influence upon the federal government that on-shore and shallow-water Gulf drilling has been greatly restricted.  Unfortunately, the U.S. does not have much in the way of deep sea drilling technology, though it has the best shallow-water and on-shore drilling technology in the world.  It turns out that the Europeans have more deep-sea technology.

Many countries have offered to use deep-water technology and other technology to help clean up the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico due to the BP Horizon platform oil spill.  Canada, Croatia, France, Germany, Ireland, Mexico, the Netherlands, Belgium, Norway, Romania, the Republic of Korea, Spain, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and the United Nations have all offered to help with the oil spill and the clean-up.  The U.S. has not accepted their help.  Why?

The Merchant Marine Act of 1920 regulates maritime commerce in U.S. waters and between U.S. ports.  Section 27, called the Jones Act, requires that all goods transported by water between U.S. ports must be carried in U.S.-flag ships, which were constructed in the U.S.  The ships must be owned by U.S. citizens and crewed by U.S. citizens and U.S. permanent residents.  This act subsidizes a U.S. merchant marine at great cost to U.S. consumers, while providing some strategic value in a possible future war.

The Dutch news site De Standaard says Belgian and Dutch dredgers have the capability to greatly speed up the oil spill clean-up.  The Belgian group DEME says it can clean up the oil in three to four months using specialty vessels and equipment.  The U.S. is estimating a 9-month clean-up.  Only 5 or 6 of the needed specialty clean-up ships are available in the world.  The top companies with these special ships have them built in the Far East, where they cost half what they would cost in the U.S.  They are mostly owned by two Belgian companies, DEME and De Nul and their Dutch competitors.  Thanks to the Jones Act, they cannot be used to speed up the clean-up.

Unless.......  A waiver is given by the Obama administration, as the Jones Act says it can in a time of national emergency or due to a strategic interest.  The Business Insider article says the exemption has not been made simply out of pride.  I suspect it is more involved than that.  Obama does not want to be seen giving jobs to foreigners during our recession and when many Gulf Coast workers are idled by the oil spill itself.  There are also U.S. maritime labor unions he does not want to offend.  So, his policy is to take 9 months to do the clean-up (probably a classic government underestimate), rather than call in the Dutch and Belgians and others with their specialized oil clean-up ships and technology.

But, instead of allowing that the tragedy is in good part due to not allowing shallow-water Gulf oil drilling and the clean-up is being dragged out by the Jones Act, the Obama power thirsters wish to blame everything on BP and a regulatory federal ocean leasing bureau due to a lax regulatory climate claimed to be due to George W. Bush!  The permit to drill was issued after Obama usurped the presidency.  The environmentalists, the Democrats, and BP share the blame for this environmental disaster.

Prof. Mike Hulme: Only a Few Dozen Scientists Backed IPCC Claims on Man-Made Global Warming

Mike Hulme is Professor of Climate Change in the School of Environmental Sciences at the University of East Anglia.  He was the IPCC co-ordinating Lead Author for the chapter Climate Scenario Development in the third assessment report and a contributing author on several other chapters.  He now says that "only a few dozen experts" backed the claims of the IPCC AR3 report on man-made global warming in a paper coauthored by his student Martin Mahony and published in Progress in Physical Geography.  The paper says:
Claims such as '2,500 of the world's leading scientists have reached a consensus that human activities are having a significant influence on the climate' are disingenuous.

12 June 2010

Howard Rich: Politicians Cause Downsizing

This is another summary with comments on an excellent article by the Americans for Limited Government group and again is from the 10 June 2010 date on the blog.  Howard Rich, Chairman of Americans for Limited Government, says
Of all the myths helping to sustain the unsustainable status quo in Washington, D.C., among the most widely accepted is the belief that a politician’s seniority translates into tangible economic benefits for his or her district. In fact, this perception works hand-in-glove with another central government myth — the one about politicians being able to create private sector jobs with your tax dollars in the first place.
On numerous occasions, I have pointed out that government creates a job in almost every case by destroying or keeping from being created more than one job.  Spain recently found that that they lost 2.2 jobs for every alternative energy green job they created.  See my post here on that.   I talked about federal job creation in the U.S. here.  I noted then that the Obama Stimulus Bill was said by the administration to have created 640,329 jobs, many of them in non-existent Congressional Districts, at a cost of $603,628 per job.  This money was taken from the private sector which would have created 6 to 12 jobs with so much money.  We now know that Obama's Stimulus Bill created many fewer than 640,000 jobs and they were almost all in the government sector, not the private sector.

Howard Rich's article notes that while academics are not usually interested in showing that federal job creation is not what it is mythically made out to be, three Harvard Business School professors, Lauren Cohen, Joshua Coval, and Christopher Malloy, made an "accidental" discovery of great interest while examining the correlation between powerful legislative committee chairmen and politically connected firms.  Coval said:
It was an enormous surprise, at least to us, to learn that the average firm in the chairman’s state did not benefit at all from the increase in spending.  Indeed, the firms significantly cut physical and R&D spending, reduced employment, and experienced lower sales.
 Rich notes that:
The study — which examined government earmark and budget data from the past four decades — found this trend to be consistent across all variables. Specifically, it affected both large and small firms in large and small states, and it followed the ascension of committee chairmen in both the House and Senate. Also, the study found that the damage to the private sector was “partially reversed” when the committee chairmen either lost their seats or gave up their gavels.
Talk about turning conventional Washington “wisdom” on its ear.
Government spending supplants private sector investment.  Expensive, bureaucratic structures replace efficient free market companies.  He who has the money gets to dictate the terms and the government bureaucrat does not know good business management.  He only knows what he thinks is good management as it pertains to government and he wants those "good" practices to be duplicated in any company he may choose to fund.  This change of viewpoint for the receiving company causes a management disruption and it often deprives the eager executive of his enjoyment of his work due to the ensuing mountains of paperwork and petty mandates that restrict his choices.  In the end, the company winds up with fewer employees, despite the "investment" of considerable taxpayer money.  This is very clear because the study shows that:
.... becoming a powerful committee chair results in a significant increase in federal funds flowing to the ascending chairman’s state.  Thus, a congressman’s ascension to a powerful committee chair creates a positive shock to his or her state’s share of federal funds that is virtually independent of the state’s economic conditions.
 Many of the American People are finally becoming aware of the negative impact of government on jobs and economic growth, though there were not enough in the 12th Congressional District of Pennsylvannia, which had long been placed at the government teat thanks to the longevity of Congressman Murtha, who funded many ill-conceived companies in his long-depressed district.  Those remaining spoiled companies no doubt could not imagine operating in the free market, where they would have to be more lean and efficient.  That is an impossible transformation of a company grown bureaucratic and slothful.  The people of the district failed to think of the new and more able companies that would be formed and would thrive if only they voted for the Tea Party candidate on the Republican ticket in the special election.  Instead, they foolish turned to Murtha's aide in the hopes that he would bring more federal money to the district, as Murtha had with a plethora of earmarks.  This study helps to explain why Murtha's district was so depressed for such a long time.

But, overall, only 18% of voters believe more government spending will help the economy and create net jobs.  About two-thirds of American voters believe that tax cuts (and presumably government spending cuts) are the way to improve the economy and to create jobs.  They are right.  If only they will vote on that basis in the 2010 and 2012 elections, we can turn the government monster around and make it retreat into its cave.  As it is composed now, it lives in the Palace and the People are being shoved into caves.