B''b-de, B''b-de, B''b-de, - That's all, folks.
Sunday, February 28, 2010
A religion is what the faith in catastrophic man-made global warming has become. It is now a tissue of assertions impervious to evidence, assertions that everything, including a historic blizzard, supposedly confirms and nothing, not even the absence of warming, can falsify.
George Will, Global Warming Advocates Ignore The Boulders, 21 Feb. 2010
Gore has emerged from his Climategate hibernaton – and he is in full hysterics mode as he attempts to protect his gravy train in a lengthy NYT op-ed. He opens his tome of yesterday by warning that we face “unimaginable calamity” if we don't institute the “large-scale preventive measures.” Gore's Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW) theory posits that as man introduces more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, then temperatures around the globe will warm. Gore:
- ignores that there is no historic link in geological history between carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and temperatures. Sometimes there have been high temperatures and high CO2, such as during the Cretaceous, but at other times the link does not appear. For example, a recent study shows that 81,000 years ago, sea levels were 1 meter higher than today, but that carbon levels were significantly lower.
- ignores that the world warms and cools naturally – and that even the IPCC in its pre-hockey stick days admitted that the Medieval Warm Period (MWP) was both a reality and warmer than today, even though there was no human contribution to carbon dioxide then. High priest of the AGW Church Phil Jones admitted the other day that global proof of the MWP would undercut the AGW theory.
- ignores that the very computer models he relies on to forecast “unimaginable calamity” are fatally flawed. Gore is relying on them to forecast doom a century from now, yet not a one of these computer models predicted the apporximately 15 yr. period through today in which temperatures have plateaued even as ever more carbon has been pumped into the atmosphere. The link between carbon dioxide and warming temperatures is not established.
And if carbon isin't the culprit, those “large-scale preventive measures” he wants in place, most of which would involve a sizable transfer of the world's wealth to Gore and his cronies in the name of minimizing carbon dioxide output, would be worse than useless.
I say “worse than” because it would take away our ability to respond to real climate crisis. For example, in the name of AGW, we have moved to highly subsidized “bio-fuels,” a move that has seen a significant increase in agricultural land being used for fuel rather than food. That move alone has driven a significant portion of the worlds poor from above to below the poverty line and contributed significantly to world hunger. It harms, not helps, the environment, and actually leads to more carbon dioxide production than it saves. Moreover, if those who predict that the sun is the prime driver of temperatures – hardly an unreasonable thesis – are correct, than we may actually be in for a period of global cooling which could very seriously impact agricutural production.
The one very valid point that Gore makes in his tome is that “we . . . still need to deal with the national security risks of our growing dependence on a global oil market dominated by dwindling reserves in the most unstable region of the world, and the economic risks of sending hundreds of billions of dollars a year overseas in return for that oil.” I couldn't agree more. Which is why we need to be exploiting our own natural resources to their fullest potential. Drill baby drill - and mine baby mine. We have the resources to substantially, if not in the near term completely, reduce our dependence on foreign oil. But we are doing next to no new drilling, we are not even able to explore in many locales, and Obama is waging a war on coal. Instead, Gore and the left would have us bet our nation's economic future on “alternative energy” that is neither cost effective nor proven to scale. In the UK, where a similar scenario is already playing out, energy prices have doubled in five years and portend to grow exponentially over the next decade. While this doesn't sound like too good a deal for the unwashed masses, it would make Gore and his ilk fabulously wealthy.
According to Gore, the sum total of the case against AGW amounts to nothing of any import:
[T]he reality of the danger we are courting has not been changed by the discovery of at least two mistakes in the thousands of pages of careful scientific work over the last 22 years by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. In fact, the crisis is still growing because we are continuing to dump 90 million tons of global-warming pollution every 24 hours into the atmosphere — as if it were an open sewer.
It is true that the climate panel published a flawed overestimate of the melting rate of debris-covered glaciers in the Himalayas, and used information about the Netherlands provided to it by the government, which was later found to be partly inaccurate. In addition, e-mail messages stolen from the University of East Anglia in Britain showed that scientists besieged by an onslaught of hostile, make-work demands from climate skeptics may not have adequately followed the requirements of the British freedom of information law.
This charlatan is shameless. He would have us pity the poor climate scientists who hide their data and refuse to make their methodology and code public to allow testing of their experiments. To paraphrase Gore - “why can't you just take it all on faith.” And it is no wonder that AGW theorists have been able to operate so long with so few errors made public. The worst thing that the IPCC and climate scientists have done is to corrupt the “scientific method” and to substitute a bastardized peer review process in its place as a facade of reliability. As the Institute of Physicists wrote the other day:
The CRU e-mails as published on the internet provide prima facie evidence of determined and co-ordinated refusals to comply with honourable scientific traditions and freedom of information law. The principle that scientists should be willing to expose their ideas and results to independent testing and replication by others, which requires the open exchange of data, procedures and materials, is vital. The lack of compliance has been confirmed by the findings of the Information Commissioner. This extends well beyond the CRU itself – most of the e-mails were exchanged with researchers in a number of other international institutions who are also involved in the formulation of the IPCC’s conclusions on climate change.
In other words, Gore is asking us to trust the work of “thousands” even though the wide spread practice among them is to publish results but not the materials that would allow reproduction and verification of their published results. To put this into perspective better, read Steve McIntyre's submission to the British Parliament on the corruption of the scientific process by the IPCC scientists. As he opines:
CRU has manipulated and/or withheld data with an effect on the research record. The manipulation includes (but is not limited to) arbitrary adjustment (“bodging”), cherry picking and deletion of adverse data. The problem is deeply rooted in the sense that some forms of data manipulation and withholding are so embedded that the practitioners and peer reviewers in the specialty seem either to no longer notice or are unoffended by the practices. Specialists have fiercely resisted efforts by outside statisticians questioning these practices – the resistance being evident in the Climategate letters. These letters are rich in detail of individual incidents.
As to the errors found, there are more than two, and they are being found at rapid pace. For example:
- Gore ignores that the “hockey stick” graph – of parmount importance to the AGW theory - continues to be an issue that has regular revelations – the most recent of which is Ken Briffa's cherry picking of the Yamal tree ring data – indeed, so outrageous as to amount to scientific fraud – all in an effort to shore up the hockey stick. It took years to get Briffa to put up his data – just as it took seven years and an act of Congress to get Michael Mann to post even the basic data for the original hockey stick graph, MBH98.
- Just recently, it was found that the IPCC, again relying on non-peer reviewed data, understated by half the annual increase of Antarctic ice.
- Just recently, it was found that the IPCC's claim that global warming will reduce African crop yields by 50% by 2020 was wholly unsubstantiated.
- Gore ignores the fact that, as the CRU e-mails clearly demonstrate, many of the central theories of “AGW” remain unchallenged because a cabal of AGW scientists made damn sure that the work was not published. Possibly the most infamous story of this type concerns physicist Henrik Svensmark who has theorized that our climate is driven by cloud production seeded by solar rays. It is a theory still being tested, but that seems borne out in large measure by the historical record. Not merely was he ostricized for articulating this theory, but he was publicly criticized by the IPCC chairman as “naive” for positing his theory.
Here is one of my favorites from the Goracle's tripe in the NYT: “even though climate deniers have speciously argued for several years that there has been no warming in the last decade, scientists confirmed last month that the last 10 years were the hottest decade since modern records have been kept.”
Would those climate deniers include Phil Jones and Kevin Trenberth, two scientists at the very top of the AGW cabal? Both have concluded its not warming and, as Jones points out, hasn't been for "15 years."
The problem with the surface data temperature is that it, like seemingly everything else in AGW, is subject to massive manipulation and adjustments. It is fundamentaly untrustworthy. Measurements themselves are not standardized. Rural and colder measuring stations have been culled by the thousands, leaving 80% of the data stations in the U.S. in locals that are below standard. Raw data from these stations show adjustments that cannot possibly be justified, but which invariably act to more warming in recent decades even while ignoring the Urban Heat Island (UHI) effect. We know this not because the changes are transparent and the code is provided for public inspection, but by individuals pulling reverse engineering that CRU and others have done in back rooms. It is a massive fraud.
The rest of the Goracle Manifesto is mostly pure drivel. He attacks capitalism, free markets and Faux News. Then he comes to this:
From the standpoint of governance, what is at stake is our ability to use the rule of law as an instrument of human redemption.
"Redemption" is the language of sin and theology. In biblical terms, redemption is an individual choice, and to be redeemed, a person must want it. As the Goracle uses the word, he uses the language of the inquisition, where “sinners” were forcibly redeemed by the police powers of the state using the auto-de-fe. Is there any person of rationale mind who thinks that using the police powers of the state for “human redemption” is a good idea?
My suggestion, let's feed Gore to the polar bears and be done with it.
Saturday, February 27, 2010
Climategate Update 25: Major Scientific Organization Opines On Climategate, More Surface Temp. Voodoo, The Goracle, More Cap & Trade
In a response to a solicitation for input from the University of East Anglia as it prepares to conduct is substantive investigation of Climatege, the UK's Institute of Physics, a highly respected organization that publishes several important scientific journals, has responded. Although many individual scientists have weighed in on Climategate, this to my knowledge is the first major, neutral organization of scientists to discuss the ramifications of Climategate. The points they raise are hardly new, but they are damning.
The IOP highlight many of the complaints that "sceptics" have been making and that Barbara Boxer and the EPA have been dismissing out of hand - that the science of AGW is not settled. There are problems with the integrity of the scientific process, the peer review process as a standard of reliability, the replicability of AGW findings, and the lack of transparency of the methods by which raw data is adjusted. This from the IOP:
What are the implications of the disclosures for the integrity of scientific research?
1. The Institute is concerned that, unless the disclosed e-mails are proved to be forgeries or adaptations, worrying implications arise for the integrity of scientific research in this field and for the credibility of the scientific method as practised in this context.
2. The CRU e-mails as published on the internet provide prima facie evidence of determined and co-ordinated refusals to comply with honourable scientific traditions and freedom of information law. The principle that scientists should be willing to expose their ideas and results to independent testing and replication by others, which requires the open exchange of data, procedures and materials, is vital. The lack of compliance has been confirmed by the findings of the Information Commissioner. This extends well beyond the CRU itself - most of the e-mails were exchanged with researchers in a number of other international institutions who are also involved in the formulation of the IPCC's conclusions on climate change.
3. It is important to recognise that there are two completely different categories of data set that are involved in the CRU e-mail exchanges:
· those compiled from direct instrumental measurements of land and ocean surface temperatures such as the CRU, GISS and NOAA data sets; and
· historic temperature reconstructions from measurements of 'proxies', for example, tree-rings.
4. The second category relating to proxy reconstructions are the basis for the conclusion that 20th century warming is unprecedented. Published reconstructions may represent only a part of the raw data available and may be sensitive to the choices made and the statistical techniques used. Different choices, omissions or statistical processes may lead to different conclusions. This possibility was evidently the reason behind some of the (rejected) requests for further information.
5. The e-mails reveal doubts as to the reliability of some of the reconstructions and raise questions as to the way in which they have been represented; for example, the apparent suppression, in graphics widely used by the IPCC, of proxy results for recent decades that do not agree with contemporary instrumental temperature measurements.
6. There is also reason for concern at the intolerance to challenge displayed in the e-mails. This impedes the process of scientific 'self correction', which is vital to the integrity of the scientific process as a whole, and not just to the research itself. In that context, those CRU e-mails relating to the peer-review process suggest a need for a review of its adequacy and objectivity as practised in this field and its potential vulnerability to bias or manipulation.
7. Fundamentally, we consider it should be inappropriate for the verification of the integrity of the scientific process to depend on appeals to Freedom of Information legislation. Nevertheless, the right to such appeals has been shown to be necessary. The e-mails illustrate the possibility of networks of like-minded researchers effectively excluding newcomers. Requiring data to be electronically accessible to all, at the time of publication, would remove this possibility.
8. As a step towards restoring confidence in the scientific process and to provide greater transparency in future, the editorial boards of scientific journals should work towards setting down requirements for open electronic data archiving by authors, to coincide with publication. Expert input (from journal boards) would be needed to determine the category of data that would be archived. Much 'raw' data requires calibration and processing through interpretive codes at various levels.
9. Where the nature of the study precludes direct replication by experiment, as in the case of time-dependent field measurements, it is important that the requirements include access to all the original raw data and its provenance, together with the criteria used for, and effects of, any subsequent selections, omissions or adjustments. The details of any statistical procedures, necessary for the independent testing and replication, should also be included. In parallel, consideration should be given to the requirements for minimum disclosure in relation to computer modelling.
Are the terms of reference and scope of the Independent Review announced on 3 December 2009 by UEA adequate?
10. The scope of the UEA review is, not inappropriately, restricted to the allegations of scientific malpractice and evasion of the Freedom of Information Act at the CRU. However, most of the e-mails were exchanged with researchers in a number of other leading institutions involved in the formulation of the IPCC's conclusions on climate change. In so far as those scientists were complicit in the alleged scientific malpractices, there is need for a wider inquiry into the integrity of the scientific process in this field.
11. The first of the review's terms of reference is limited to: "...manipulation or suppression of data which is at odds with acceptable scientific practice..." The term 'acceptable' is not defined and might better be replaced with 'objective'.
12. The second of the review's terms of reference should extend beyond reviewing the CRU's policies and practices to whether these have been breached by individuals, particularly in respect of other kinds of departure from objective scientific practice, for example, manipulation of the publication and peer review system or allowing pre-formed conclusions to override scientific objectivity.
How independent are the other two international data sets?
13. Published data sets are compiled from a range of sources and are subject to processing and adjustments of various kinds. Differences in judgements and methodologies used in such processing may result in different final data sets even if they are based on the same raw data. Apart from any communality of sources, account must be taken of differences in processing between the published data sets and any data sets on which they draw.
(H/T Watts Up With That) (emphasis mine)
All of these concerns go to the fundamental unreliability of the AGW theory. An equally fundamental concern arises over the accuracy of modern temperature measurements. Raw data is merely the starting point for those organizations collecting our temperature data. What we get at the end of the process us data that has been "adjusted" for variables. But those adjustments are questionable indeed. Most recently, scientist David Schnare has posted his review of how one long term rural weather station - one that seemingly would need no adjustment to its raw data to account for the Urban Heat Island effect - has nonetheless been subject to such data adjustment. It's raw data shows a .24 celsius rise in temperature over its century plus life time. Yet the adjustments by GISS and USHCN show double that warming.
On a different topic, where in the world is Al Gore. There seem to have been more sightings recently of Jimmy Hoffa and Elvis than of the Goracle. One would think he would be out defending his golden egg. Update: Hah. Just saw the Goracle's tome today in the NYT. Like a bad dream . . . heeeee'sssssssss back.
No matter, I guess, as all of this is being ignored by the left as they push this forward as a political issue. In what can only be described as surreal, this from WaPo:
Senate Majority Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has instructed Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) to produce a revamped climate bill as soon as possible, according to sources, a task Kerry intends to accomplish within two weeks.
The marching orders could represent the best chance advocates will get to pass a climate and energy bill before the November elections. . . .
These people are insane.
- - Climategate and Surrealism
- - More Climategate Fallout
- - Climategate Update 3
- - Climategate Update 4: CRU Records Worthless
- - Climategate Update 5: IPCC's Chairman Mao
- - Climategate Update 6: Climategate In Video
- - UNEP, Green Religion & Global Governance
- - Climate Update 7: IPCC's Chairman Mao Plays The Obama Card, Peer Review Analyzed, Scientific Method Explained For Paul Krugman
- - Climategate Update 8: The NYT Reports
- - Climategate Update 9: CRU Head Phil Jones Steps Down During Investigation, An MIT Prof Explains The Holes In AGW Theory, And Climate Fraud Is Everywhere
- - Climategate Update 10: Climategate Reverberates From The UK To Down Under
- - Climategate Update 11: Finally An AGW Consensus, "Hockey Stick" Mann Attacks Jones, Gore Goes To Ground
- - Climategate Update 12: The AGW Wall Starts To Crumble, The Smoking Code & The Tiger Woods Index
- - Clmategate Update 13: Hack Job Alert - Washington Post Leads With Climategate and A Complete Defense Of Global Warming
- - Climate Update 14: A Tale of 4 Graphs & An Influential Tree, Hide The Decline Explained, Corrupt Measurements, Goebbelswarming at Copenhagen
- - Climategate Update 15: Copenhagen, EPA Makes Final Finding On CO2, Courts & Clean Air
- - Climategate Update 16: Copenhagen'$ Goal$, Palin Weighs In, As Do Scientists
- - - Obama Holds American Economy Hostage Over Cap and Trade
- - Climategate Updage 17: What Greenland's Ice Core Tells Us, The EPA's Reliance On The IPCC, & The Left's War On Coal
- - Gorebbelswarming
- - Krauthammer On The New Socialism & The EPA's Power Grab
- - Climategate Update 18: Ice Core Flicks, Long Term Climate, Anti-Scientific Method Then & Now, Confirmation Bias Or Fraud
- - Climategate Update 19: The Daily Mail Hits The Bulls Eye On Climategate; The AP Spins
- - Climategate Update 20: Snowing Around The World, But Warming In Antarctica?
- - Climate Update 21: AGW Investigation Begins? 100 Reasons AGW Is Natural, Green Profiteers, Conflict Of Interest & Arctic Sea Ice
- - Climategate Update 22: Hiding The Raw Data, Gore's Mosquitos, & The Smart Grid
- - Climatege Update 23: Hadley-Russian Surface Temp Fraud, Solar Activity & AGW, Driving Motivations At Copenhagen, Green Energy, & The Goracle's Prayer
- - Climategate Update 24: Watermelons, A Message From God?, Carbon Trading Scam, Follow The Money
- - A Summary Of The Not So Settled Science Of Antrhopogenic Global Warming
- - A Bad Couple Of Months For Settled Science
Friday, February 26, 2010
You shall not act dishonestly in rendering judgment. Show neither partiality to the weak nor deference to the mighty, but judge your fellow man justly.
Charles Krauthammer today tackles one of the vexing questions of our modern era - the liability of companies for injuries relating to the goods they produce. The goal of products liability law is to hold companies liable for making an injured person whole if the comapny's products caused the injury or the product otherwise gave insufficient warning of a non-obvious danger. It places the economic costs of the loss where they should be.
Alternatively, if we make it too dificult to prove a company's liability, then the costs to treat and make whole people injured by products becomes the responsiblity of others, and possibly the state. The flip side of that is that if we set the bar too low, we unreasonably punish companies, driving up costs to society as a whole and perhaps forcing products from the market that are a net good to society (I for one still think that we should have lawn darts). In addition, if a lawyer can posit that a company's acts were sufficiently reckless, than in most venues they can ask for punitive damages to punish the company. Many question whether there should be punitive damages in products liability cases, but the Supreme Court has only made law around the edges of that question.
Krauthammer does a good job of articulating some of the very real philosophical and pragmatic issues with our system, beginning with a real problem that has been around since biblical times, the problems of favoritism. In our legal system, that usually comes with juries favoring horribly injured plaintiffs in what is often a visceral, emotional reaction. This from Krauthammer:
Amazingly, the congressional hearings on Toyota were relatively civilized. Apart from some inevitable theatrical hectoring, the questioning was generally respectful, the emotions controlled. This was all the more remarkable given the drama of some of the testimony, such as that offered by a tearful Rhonda Smith, who recounted how, in her runaway Lexus, she had called her husband because "I wanted to hear his voice one more time."
Such wrenching and compelling stories might impel you to want to string up the first Toyota executive you find. But the issue here is larger and highly complex.
Industrial society produces an astonishing array of mass-produced products -- cars, drugs, medical devices -- that are at once wondrous and potentially lethal.
The wondrousness sometimes eludes us. Even the lowliest wage earner has an automobile that conveys him with more luxury, more freedom, more comfort than any traveling king ever experienced in all the centuries before the 20th. And modern medicines -- why, vaccines alone -- have prevented more suffering, more debility and more death than anything ever conceived by man.
But these wonders can be lethal. And sorting out the endless complaints about these products is maddeningly difficult -- though sort you must, otherwise every complaint would require shutting down the factories, and we'd have no industrial society at all.
The question is: How do you distinguish the idiosyncratic failure from the systemic -- for example, the single lemon that came off the auto assembly line vs. an intrinsic problem inherent in that model's engineering? How do you separate one patient's physiology producing a drug side effect vs. an intrinsic problem with a drug that makes it unacceptably dangerous?
Consider the oddity of those drug commercials on television. Fifteen seconds of the purported therapeutic effort, followed by about 45 seconds of a rapidly muttered list of horrific possible side effects. When the ad is over, I can't remember a thing about what the pill is supposed to do, except perhaps cause nausea, liver damage, projectile vomiting, a nasty rash, a four-hour erection and sudden death. Sudden death is my favorite because there is something comical about its being a side effect. What exactly is the main effect in that case? Relief from abdominal bloating?
And how many sudden deaths does it take until we say: "Enough," and pull the drug off the market?
It's not an easy calculation. Six years ago, Vioxx, a powerful anti-inflammatory, was withdrawn by the manufacturer because it was found to increase the risk of heart attack and stroke from 0.75 percent per year to 1.5 percent. The company was pilloried for not having owned up to this earlier, but some rheumatologists were furious that the drug was forced off the market at all. They had patients with crippling arthritis who had achieved a functioning life with Vioxx, for which they were quite willing to risk a long-shot cardiac complication. The public furor denied them the choice.
And don't imagine that we do not coldly calculate the price of a human life. In 1974, the speed limit was lowered to 55 mph to conserve oil. That also led to a dramatic drop in traffic fatalities -- approximately 3,000 lives every year. This didn't stop us, after the oil crisis, from raising the speed limit back to 65 and beyond -- knowing that thousands of Americans would die as a result.
The calculation was never explicit but it was nevertheless real. We were quite prepared to trade away a finite number of human lives for speed, and for the efficiency and convenience that come with it.
This is not to let Toyota off the hook simply because all products carry risk. Toyota executives have already admitted that they had underplayed the reports of sticking accelerators. They seem finally to have made a very serious, almost frantic, effort to correct what can be corrected -- the floor-mat and sticky-accelerator problems -- while continuing to investigate the more elusive possibility (never proved, perhaps never provable) of some additional electronic glitch.
But it is no disrespect to the memory of those killed, and the sorrow of those left behind, to simply admit that even the highest technology produced by the world's finest companies can be fallible and fatal, and that the intelligent response is not rage and retribution but sober remediation and recognition of the very high price we pay -- willingly pay -- for modernity with all its wondrous, dangerous bounty.
This really is beyond outrageous. Obama has just appointed SEIU President Andy Stern to his newly minted "deficit reduction commission." This is the same radical joker who was tied at the hip with ACORN and its founder, Wade Rathke. He has a past awash in the politics of left wing radicalism. This is the same man who, less than three months ago, was leading demonstrations in California - a state teetering on the brink of financial collapse - in opposition to any public sector cutbacks or wage freezes. More on this deeply anti-capitalist, deeply socialistic man from Big Government:
We saw their fury throughout 2009: “Capitalism is Dead”, “Kill the Corporation”, “Bust Up Big Banks”, “Greed Kills”, “Bank of America, Bad for America”. The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) led an all-out assault on Wall Street – and on capitalism and corporations – coining words and phrases that have since become common staples in the vocabulary of the bank-bashing craze. That fury hit a fever pitch last March when word of the AIG bonuses went public. It was the SEIU out in front of the protests, at AIG offices, and bussing protestors to the homes of AIG executives.
The months that followed saw more of the same. In April, SEIU hailed the ousting of General Motors CEO Rick Wagoner. That same week, it stepped up its battleplan with the Mother of all Corporate Campaigns against Ken Lewis, Bank of America CEO and Chairman – complete with videos, rolling billboards, smear sites, petition drives, letter campaigns, media blitzes and more, while it placed equal attention on Bank of America, forcing the company to respond with a $40 million image boosting campaign of television and print ads. . . .
As this very fine article also goes on to discuss in detail, SEIU is using its control of employee pension funds to oust anti-unionists from boards and to further the process of unionizing the employees in many of the institutions in which it invests.
And this is the guy Obama wants to decide for America how to fix our economy? You have got to be kidding. I wrote a detailed post recently on the unions, and in particular, public sector unions, discussing this cancer on our society and how they were anti-free market, anti-capitalist, predatory and, at this point, pose a massive threat to our economy and our educational system. The SEIU is major part of problem, not a part of the solution.
Obama's "deficit reduction commission" is a travesty to begin with. He is appointing a commission - weighted towards Democrats - in order to shift his and the Congress's Constitutional responsibilities for the hard questions America faces. It is the opposite of leadership. This is not like the 9-11 Commission where the major issue was findings of fact in a small, discrete area. We are talking here about the government spending and taxation - the most fundamental duties of Congress and the President. And now he is not only shifting the responsibilities, he is giving a major say on the future of our economy to radical union leader Andy Stern. This is utterly beyond belief.
What Republicans should do is explain in detail how this "deficit reduction commission" is a fundamental shirking of the responsibilities of Congress, they should highlight Obama's appointment of Stern, and they should refuse to participate in the Commission.
Virtually everything Obama does leaves my jaw hanging. He is President at a critical moment in history, with our economy in a shambles and major foreign dangers and challegnes staring us in the face. I worry daily that the damage he has done already with his massive spending and his mishandling of foreign policy - and all that he is poised to do - may not be able to be undone.
Thursday, February 25, 2010
I spent several posts talking about why Republicans should have declined the invitation to attend this meeting as constituted and that they should have offered instead to meet on jobs and spending. It would seem that my worst fears regarding this bit of kabuki theatre did not come to pass. By all accounts, this was not a PR victory for Obama - despite the fact that Obama allotted 2/3rd's of the time to himself and his Congressional Democrats. Clearly, the Republicans who showed at the event had some very clear points to make, chief among them Rep. Paul Ryan.
Update: Having just watched Frank Lunz's focus group and a Democratic pollster on Hannity, it would seem I was completely wrong. The Republicans made a significant impression, the President did not, and an overwhelming majority in the focus group, evenly divided between Republicans and Democrats, wanted to see the current health care bill tossed and the whole thing renegotiated rather than see the current bill rammed through using reconciliation.
These Democrats are scurrilous and dumber than rocks. They are continuing their war on our intelligence capabilities and they will get people killed. Chief among them on the dumber than a rock list is House Intelligence Committee Chairman Sylvester Reyes, pictured above. When he took over the chairmanship in 2006, at the height of the Iraq War, this bozo did not know the difference between Sunni and Shia Muslims. His sole qualification for the Chairmanship was kissing Nancy Pelosi's very wrinkled ass. And now this mental midget has introduced a bill that would not only provide a new Constitutional right to terrorists, but it would actually give stronger protections to terrorists than that enjoyed by all American citizens under the Constitution. Moreover, it is so poorly written - so vague and ambiguous - that it would literally stop our intelligence agencies from conducting interrogations for fear of being put in jail. What an utterly idiotic, asinine, bottom feeding, incompetent, worthless S.O.B.
In the dead of night, Reyes using a procedural tool that allowed him to offer amendments to the Intelligence Bill that was to be voted on today - insuring that they would not be subject to hearing or debate, and he did so without any consultation with the CIA. His amendment, which you can find here beginning on page 33 of the pdf file, provides:
“Any officer or employee of the intelligence community who in the course of . . . [an] interrogation knowingly commits . . . an act of cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment . . . shall be fined under this title or imprisoned for not more than 15 years, or both.”
Note that the 8th Amendment to the Constitution provides a prohibition against “cruel and unusual punishments.” The language of that Amendment has a long history of interpretation and, in his amendment, Reyes specified that he meant his new law to be read in light of the 8th Amendment. But the language of his amendment went beyond that. To “cruel,” Reyes has added “inhuman” and “degrading.” That is so ambiguous and so potentially far reaching that it goes far beyond any limitation found in our Constitution. Left wing lawyers and judges would have a field day with this. Does degrading treatment mean that the FBI can no longer keep trying to break the Undiebombers will by telling fat jokes about his mother – upon pain of 15 years in jail?
In giving examples of the things outlawed under this provision, Reyes cites to many examples of prohibited acts "including but not limited to . . . waterboarding, . . . depriving the individual of necessary food, water or sleep, . . . using force or threat of force to compel an individual to maintain a stress position . . . exposure to excessive cold, heat or cramped confinement . . . prolonged isolation . . . placing hoods or sacks over the heads of individuals," and many more.
So what is "prolonged isolation?" Reyes doesn't define it. So at what point does a CIA agent risk going to jail? Our jails use solitary confinement as a punishment. What about sleep deprivation. Does a CIA officer risk jail time if he does not stop an interrogation when a prisoner says he's tired and wants to go to bed? This is beyond ridiculous. And none of that even begins to plumb the depths of what could be considered "demeaning" treatment.
Only two months ago, polls show that a wide majority of Americans thought that the Christmas Day Undiebomber should have been in military custody getting waterboarded for all he is worth. And here we have Reyes attempting to slide in a law to give the Undiebomber more legal rights than an American citizen. These people are suicidal in the way Jim Jones was - he was quite willing to commit suicide but forced the rest of his followers to do the same.
Andy McCarthy has much more on this at NRO, including a discussion of how Reyes and the left are, by this amendment, attempting to equate waterboarding with "torture." God help Reyes and crew when the next explosive devise sent in underwear from Yemen explodes. A bill will come due, and these utterly scurrilous individuals have to be made to pay in full.
Update: Reyes has now withdrawn his managers amendment. This from Rep. Pete Hoeksta:
That Democrats would try to bury this provision deep in the bill, late at night, when they thought everyone’s attention would be focused on the health care summit is a testament to the shameful nature of what they were attempting. . . . Republicans brought this to the attention of the American people, who were rightly outraged that Democrats would try to target those we ask to serve in harm’s way and with a unified push we were successful in getting them to pull the bill.
Wednesday, February 24, 2010
Public sector unions are a cancer in America. They are causing a massive economic crisis and, in terms of education, are the single most significant impediment to educational reform. All of this presents an opportunity for the right to address this issue and to build new alliances that could work a sea-change to the political landscape.
To understand all the ramifications of the public union cancer, one needs to know some of the history of the union movement. With the rise of the industrial era in the 18th century, large employers became infamous for abusing their bargaining power, many paying workers but a pittance to work long hours under dangerous, sometimes deadly conditions. And with their acts came the rise of labour unions. The conflict between owners and unions led to large scale violence. Indeed, it was in the middle of this volatile era that Karl Marx, in the Communist Manifesto, penned his theory that "The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles."
Regardless of what one thinks of unions today, they played a positive role in blunting the overreach of employers of the early industrial era. That said, Milton Friedman, in a 1976 interview, attributes this evolution far more to the gradual reduction in poverty that occurred over the 19th and 20th century.
Whatever the case, the reality is that the historical core demands of the unions were met, whether because of the unions, increasing wealth, or likely some combination of the two. We are the better for it. By law, we now have a 40 hour work week with time and half if hourly employees are forced to work beyond that limit. We have work holidays. We have a minimum wage. We have work place safety rules and mine regulations. Virtually all large employers have "due process" for employees in terms of setting out a process for complaints, grievances and terminations. Employee benefits are regulated by the federal law of ERISA. Moreover, employees are far more mobile today. At least until our economy was brought to its knees, an employer who abused his or her employees in the modern era could expect to find that his employees would be short term indeed.
Thus, unions have far outlived their usefullness. Their function today is anti-capitalist. They exist to limit competition, to restrict the ability of employers to fire union employees, and to soak employers for all that they can. They drive up costs to consumers and they are parasitical, charging employees for mandatory union dues over which union members rarely if ever have any say in their use. For example, here is a short video done several years ago by Milton Friedman explaining the costs of unionized labour and comparing it to a free market system.
To the extent that private sector unions in the U.S. are still around today, it is largely a function of New Deal era legislation giving unions a lifeline. But that has not stopped the marginalization and steady decline of private sector union employment. Economic changes and the realities of the marketplace have seen unions go from their hey day in 1960, when more than 37% of all private sector employees belonged to a union, to today where unions represent only 7.6% of the private work force. That of course is why Obama and the left have been pushing the Orwellian "Employee Free Choice Act" to strip workers of their right to a secret ballot as regards unionization, opening up the process to thuggery and intimidation in an effort to reinvigorate private sector union membership.
But that is the private sector. The public sector is a different matter entirely. Unions in the public sector are a growth industry with 39% of all state and local public employees belonging to unions. What can possibly justify public sector unions in 2010? This is not the era of sweatshops and 80 hour work weeks. And indeed, today we see public sector union employees earning significantly more than their private sector counterparts.
Public unions are particularly insidious. They are not subject to market forces and they have every reason to seek growth of government. This from a 2009 Heritage Foundation article:
. . . As Heritage fellow James Sherk reported earlier this year, for the first time in history most union members work for the government, not the private sector. The days when “union member” meant an American working in a steel plant, or coal mine, or auto factory are gone. Today, unions are dependent on government, not the private sector, for their livelihood. Therefore, unions have little interest in private sector job growth. Private sector jobs don’t help fund political campaigns. But government jobs do. The change in incentives has been devastating to American taxpayers. Manhattan Institute senior fellow Steven Malanga explains why:
In the private sector … employers who are too generous with pay and benefits will be punished. In the public sector, however, more union members means more voters. And more voters means more dollars for political campaigns to elect sympathetic politicians who will enact higher taxes to foot the bill for the upward arc of government spending on workers.
This is why you see big labor supporting Obamacare and cap and trade taxes. Private sector job growth does nothing to increase union dues … only the further expansion of government does.
As to how we got to this point and what is at stake, this from Daniel Henninger at the WSJ:
. . . The central battle in our time is over political primacy. It is a competition between the public sector and the private sector over who defines the work and the institutions that make a nation thrive and grow.
In 1962, President John F. Kennedy planted the seeds that grew the modern Democratic Party. That year, JFK signed executive order 10988 allowing the unionization of the federal work force. This changed everything in the American political system. Kennedy's order swung open the door for the inexorable rise of a unionized public work force in many states and cities.
This in turn led to the fantastic growth in membership of the public employee unions—The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and the teachers' National Education Association.
They broke the public's bank. More than that, they entrenched a system of taking money from members' dues and spending it on political campaigns. Over time, this transformed the Democratic Party into a public-sector dependency.
They became different than the party of FDR, Truman, Meany and Reuther. That party was allied with the fading industrial unions, which in turn were tethered to a real world of profit and loss. . . .
Exhibit one in understanding just how insidious this devil's compact is - the Stimulus. Supposedly designed to stop the growth of unemployment, only 2.6% of the $786 billion Stimulus - a paltry $21 billion - actually went to the private sector for small business loans. Small businesses are the job creating engine of our economy and it is they who create wealth. Yet fully a third of the stimulus went to state and local governments to keep public sector employees in their jobs. They create no wealth - but they do pay union dues that are then returned to the Democrat party. Exhibit two would be the Obama's extortion of Chrysler secured bond holders to give up their property rights in favor of unions, potentially damaging investment in U.S. companies for years to come. Exhibit three would be Obama's outrageous stated intent to place SEIU President Andy Stern on the his Deficit Reduction Commission. Democrats are, as Democratic strategist Pat Caddell points out, wedded to unions.
The reality today is that public sector union employees are economically far better off than the majority of their private sector counterparts. According to a recent CATO study using Bureau of Labor statistics, total compensation for the average public sector worker is close to $40 an hour, while in the private sector, the average is about $27.50. In California, whose government George Will has characterized as a "unionocracy," a public employee can retire at age 50 receiving 90% of his last year's pay for life, along with medical benefits. The situation is not too dissimilar from that of New Jersey and to a lesser extent in many other parts of the country. You can follow these links for some of the state specific horror stories for New Jersey, New York, and California. Update: Detroit (h/t Instapundit).
[Update: And see this from Newgeography on the state of the State of California:
. . . California’s schools now rank 49th in the nation. They no longer generate the brilliant minds that fueled past economies. California’s 11.6% income tax has forced many high income earners to no income tax states like Florida or Nevada. The housing industry that created 212,960 units in 2006 was only able to build 36,000 units in 2009.
Former state librarian and California historian Kevin Starr talks about the potential of California being the nation’s first failed state. John Moorlach, Orange County Supervisor says, “We better start talking about this. What are we going to do when the entity (state government) above us crumbles? I think we are already technically bankrupt.” He should know: Orange County went bankrupt in 1994. The City of Vallejo, population 120,000, was forced into bankruptcy in 2008 by commitments by its politicians to pay its City Manager $400,000 per year and its fireman an average of $175,000 annually.
The biggest obstacle facing California’s recovery is a dysfunctional pension system created by politicians indebted to the public employee unions. The pension obligation is now $17 billion per year. California has 260,000 state employees and 38,000 are paid more than $100,000 per year. The University of California employs another 250,000 and 19,000 are paid over 100,000 annually. These generous salaries have been converted into lifetime annuities. The Legislative Analyst’s Office estimates the unfunded pension obligations of California to total $237 billion. In an era of retiring baby-boomers, this trajectory is clearly unsustainable. With tax receipts down, huge pension obligations and a state budget deficit of $20 billion, the vast majority of municipalities in California are suffering deficits and facing the prospect of Chapter 9 municipal bankruptcy.]
The economic harm of public sector unions is extensive and poses a particularly grave threat to our nation. The states with a history of Democrat majority have allowed the greatest public unionization - and importantly, they also suffer from some of the most significant unfunded pension liabilities. The sum total of those unfunded liabilities today is estimated at an incredible $2 trillion. This from a witch's brew of public unions who donate heavily to candidates who then in turn are expected to agree to soaking the taxpayers for the union's support, the fact that the fiscal problems posed by these promises come due decades down the road, and lax government rules for public pensions that invite underfunding. This from Diana Furchtgott-Roth at Real Clear Markets:
. . . Pension plans for employees of state and local governments are not governed by the U.S. Labor Department-administered Employee Retirement Income Security Act, which specifies investments that can be made by private employer pension plans and minimum levels of funding. Rather, public pension funds operate under guidelines of the Government Accounting Standards Board, which has different criteria.
Whereas gains and losses from private pension funds must be smoothed over seven years under the Pension Protection Act of 2006-ten years upon request-gains and losses for public plans only have to be smoothed over a 30-year period. This means that public funds can incur greater deficits than private plans, because projected gains 30 years hence can be used to offset near-term losses.
Although private plans can reduce employee benefits and increase contributions to bring under-funded plans into financial health, many public sector plans have been prohibited by the courts from doing this. New employees can be charged a higher contribution rate for lower benefits, but not current employees who were hired under more favorable terms.
Underfunded public pension plans are legal obligations of the state, and have to be paid . . . .
And unlike the federal government, state and local governments can't print money. Could we be duplicating Greece on this side of the Atlantic? Who is going to have to pay for this combination of profligacy and underfunding? Either state tax-payers or tax payers nationally if, as many expect, states come with hat in hand asking for a bail out. But it does not end there. The unions, unless broken through a combination of bankruptcy, legislation and repeal of Kennedy's infamous executive order, show no intention of doing anything but asking for more.
And that is what makes this even more scandalous. The attitude of the public sector unions displayed during this massive recession is arrogance personified even though it is crystal clear that the house of cards they have created is wholly unsustainable. The public sector unions are riding the gravy train for all its worth. Not being subject to market forces, they expect the taxpayors to be continually soaked. For example, this from NorthJersey.com:
Teachers in New Jersey are due, on average, raises of four percent this year and next, but the ongoing recession is taking a toll on tax revenue at all levels of government throughout the state. Christie is grappling with what he says will be a $1.3 billion shortfall in the current budget and a looming structural deficit of at least $9.5 billion in the budget year that begins this July.
But a spokesman for the New Jersey Education Association, which represents 200,000 teachers statewide, called the pay-freeze proposal a “direct violation of collective bargaining.” Most districts are in the middle of current contracts, said spokesman Steve Wollmer.
“There are a lot of legal questions,” he said. “These agreements were legally negotiated under collective bargaining.”
Peter Tirri, president of the 3,700-member teachers union on Paterson, called the pay freeze idea an “incredible slap in the face.” . . .
Another example comes from a now well publicized incident in Rhode Island. This from Hot Air:
The situation already looked explosive. A Rhode Island high school had a 50% failure rate in a depressed town with high unemployment and a median wage of $22,000 per family. The union representing the teachers, who averaged over $70,000 per year in income, refused the superintendent’s plans to improve the school by extending the work day by 25 minutes and requiring teachers to provide tutoring on a rotating basis. The superintendent summoned her inner Reagan and fired them all, from the administrators to the last instructor (via Instapundit):
Her plan calls for teachers at a local high school to work 25 minutes longer per day, each lunch with students once in a while, and help with tutoring. The teachers’ union has refused to accept these apparently onerous demands.
The teachers at the high school make $70,000-$78,000, as compared to a median income in the town of $22,000. This exemplifies a nationwide trend in which public sector workers make far more than their private-sector counterparts (with better benefits).
The school superintendent has responded to the union’s stubbornness by firing every teacher and administrator at the school.
One wonders how many teachers at the school would have been quite willing to comply with what seem to be quite reasonable requests of the superintendent - and how many today would like to tar and feather their union representatives today.
At any rate, this highlights that it is not merely an economic cost that we pay for public unions, it is also deeply problematic for performance in sectors where employees are unionized. This is of particular importance in the area of education. In the words of Al Shanker, former president of the American Federation of Teachers, "I don’t represent the children. I represent the teachers." Those words highlight virtually all that is wrong with teachers unions.
They exist to prevent competition, irrespective of the results being achieved. Their answer to all problems is more money for more teachers - which of course means more union dues. Bad teachers are protected through the work of the unions and contracts that provide for "tenure." Tenure is a practice common to higher education. It grants university professors job security in order to allow them to opine on controversial subjects or to take contrarian positions. Theoretically, it is meant to fan the flames of classical liberalism. None of that remotely applies to teachers in K-12 who are expected to be teaching our children the basics of reading, writing, math, science and history. "Tenure" for public school teachers is ludicrous. Yet this from an article, Bad Teachers Are Rarely Fired:
In most states, teachers are awarded tenure after only a few years, after which they become almost impossible to fire. Union leaders insist that they support archaic tenure laws because they ensure “due process” for teachers. But these laws actually help bad teachers keep their jobs.
In 2003, one Los Angeles union representative said: “If I’m representing them, it’s impossible to get them out. It’s impossible. Unless they commit a lewd act.” Between 1995 and 2005, only 112 Los Angeles tenured teachers faced termination -- eleven per year -- out of 43,000. And that’s in a school district whose 2003 graduation rate was just 51 percent.
One New Jersey union representative was even more blunt about the work his organization does to keep bad teachers in the classroom, saying: “I’ve gone in and defended teachers who shouldn’t even be pumping gas.”
In ten years, only about 47 out of 100,000 teachers were actually terminated from New Jersey’s schools. Original research conducted by the Center for Union Facts (CUF) confirms that almost no one ever gets fired from New Jersey’s largest school district, no matter how bad. Over four recent years, CUF discovered, Newark’s school district successfully fired about one out of every 3,000 tenured teachers annually. Graduation statistics indicate that the district needs much stronger medicine: Between the 2001-2002 and the 2004-2005 school years, Newark’s graduation rate (not counting the diplomas “earned” through New Jersey’s laughable remedial exam) was a mere 30.6 percent. . . .
This is especially egregious when one considers how teachers unions also fight tooth and nail against any competition. Possibly the most disgusting example of this came with the Obama administration's decision to end the Opportunity Scholarship Program in Washington D.C., a place where the public school system is the best funded in America, yet achieves the worst results. He did it at the behest of the National Education Association (NEA). Juan Williams has opined extensively on this topic:
The cause of my upset is watching the key civil rights issue of this generation — improving big city public school education — get tossed overboard by political gamesmanship. If there is one goal that deserves to be held above day-to-day partisanship and pettiness of ordinary politics it is the effort to end the scandalous poor level of academic achievement and abysmally high drop-out rates for America’s black and Hispanic students….
In a politically calculated dance step the Obama team first indicated that they wanted the Opportunity Scholarship Program to continue for students lucky enough to have won one of the vouchers. The five-year school voucher program is scheduled to expire after the school year ending in June 2010. . . .
And all along the administration indicated that pending evidence that this voucher program or any other produces better test scores for students they were willing to fight for it. The president has said that when it comes to better schools he is open to supporting “what works for kids.” That looked like a level playing field on which to evaluate the program and even possibly expanding the program…
And now Secretary Duncan has applied a sly, political check-mate for the D.C. voucher plan. . . .
The National Education Association and other teachers’ unions have put millions into Democrats’ congressional campaigns because they oppose Republican efforts to challenge unions on their resistance to school reform and specifically their refusal to support ideas such as performance-based pay for teachers who raise students’ test scores.
By going along with Secretary Duncan’s plan to hollow out the D.C. voucher program this president, who has spoken so passionately about the importance of education, is playing rank politics with the education of poor children. It is an outrage.
And here is Mr. Williams opining on this issue at Fox News.
As Juan Williams points out, improving our education should be a non-partisan issue. It is not because most - but not all - Democrats are wedded financially to public unions. A fascinating article on the national issue of how the Teachers Unions are the major impediment to bettering public education appeared in a City Journal article a few weeks ago, We Are All Rightwing Bastards Now. It discusses how many liberals and former teachers union employees agree that the teachers unions are antithetical to the highest quality of education we can provide to our children:
. . . People of all political stripes—not just right-wing “bastards”—are starting to realize that the single biggest impediment to education reform is the NEA itself.
. . . A study of charter schools in Boston by Harvard economist Tom Kane found that “students accepted by lottery at independently operated charter schools significantly outperformed students who lost the lottery and returned to district schools. But students accepted by lottery at charters run by the school district with unionized teachers experienced no benefit.” . . .
The NEA fights school vouchers even more fiercely than it opposes charters. . . .
. . . the Citizens’ Commission on Civil Rights released a report, National Teachers’ Unions and the Struggle over School Reform, maintaining that the teachers’ unions consistently blocked meaningful education reform and accusing the NEA of trying to end enforcement of the No Child Left Behind act. The unions “almost uniformly call for the spending of more money and the creation of more teaching positions which, of course, result in an increase in union membership, union income and union power,” wrote one of the authors, David Kilpatrick. Perhaps the report’s authors are the “right-wing bastards” Chanin was talking about? The problem is that Kilpatrick spent 12 years as a top union officer, while the study’s other authors include former senators Bill Bradley and Birch Bayh, D.C. congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton, and civil rights leader Roger Wilkins — all liberals.
That Democratic leaders and poor African-Americans in Washington have found common cause with the Wall Street Journal and Fox News shows that school reform is neither a liberal nor a conservative issue. While Chanin champions the power of an entrenched union and belittles those who oppose it, people of goodwill across the political spectrum fight back for real education reform.
While this presents a great challenge to America, it also, as Thomas Sowell points out, presents a great opportunity for the Republican Party:
. . . The black vote was once consistently Republican, from the time of Abraham Lincoln to Herbert Hoover. Even after Franklin D. Roosevelt won over the black vote to the Democrats, it was not considered remarkable when Eisenhower got a higher share of the black vote than any Republican president in recent times has.
It may be years before Republicans can again get a majority of the black vote. But Republicans don’t need to get a majority of the black vote. If they get 20 percent of the black vote, the Democrats are in trouble — and if they get 30 percent, the Democrats have had it in the general elections.
In some close congressional elections, if the Republicans increase their share of the black vote by even modest amounts, that will be the difference between victory and defeat.
There is no point today in Republicans’ continuing to try to win over the average black voter by acting like imitation Democrats. Those who like what the Democrats are doing are going to vote for real Democrats.
But not all black voters are the same, any more than all white voters are the same. Those black voters that Republicans have any realistic chance of winning over are people who share similar values and concerns.
They want their children to get a decent education, which they are unlikely to get so long as public schools are a monopoly run for the benefit of the teachers’ unions, instead of for the education of the children. Democrats are totally in hock to the teachers’ unions, which means that Republicans have a golden opportunity to go after the votes of black parents by connecting the dots and exposing one of the key reasons for bad education in inner cities and the bad consequences that follow.
But when have you ever heard a Republican candidate get up and hammer the teachers’ unions for blocking every attempt to give parents — black or white — the choice of where to send their children?
The teachers’ unions are going to be against the Republicans, whether Republicans hammer them or keep timidly quiet. Why not talk straight with black voters about the dire consequences of the public-school monopoly that the teachers’ unions and the Democrats protect at all costs, even though many private and public-charter schools — notably the KIPP schools in various states — have achieved remarkable success with low-income and minority youngsters?
Blacks have been lied to so much that straight talk can gain their respect, even if they don’t agree with everything you say. . . .
And, in what can only be seen as perfect timing, we now see anti-union sentiment being reflected in the polls. This from Hot Air:
A new poll by Pew Research shows that the labor movement’s popularity among Americans has plummeted over the last three years. In January 2007, unions had a favorability gap of 27 points with a solid majority (58%) approving of them. Today, that advantage has entirely dissipated:
Favorable views of labor unions have plummeted since 2007, amid growing public skepticism about unions’ purpose and power. Currently, 41% say they have a favorable opinion of labor unions while about as many (42%) express an unfavorable opinion. In January 2007, a clear majority (58%) had a favorable view of unions while just 31% had an unfavorable impression.
The latest nationwide survey by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, conducted Feb. 3-9 among 1,383 adults reached on cell phones and landlines, finds that favorable opinions of unions have fallen across demographic and partisan groups. Still, far more Democrats have favorable views of unions (56%) than do independents (38%) or Republicans (29%).
Public unions have caused a crisis in America politically, economically, and substantively. And this comes at a time when unions are fading in favorability. As someone once said, "never let a crisis go to waste." I think that sage advice in regards this matter. It is long past time to dust off Ron's old playbook and to take Prof. Sowell's advice.
Welcome Larwyn's Linx readers.
1. Public Sector Unions: A Toxin, A Crisis & An Opportunity
2. Read'n, Writ'n & Unioniz'n
3. What, Marx Or Lenin Weren't Available?
4. Gov. Chris Christie, What Leadership Looks Like
5. California: From Riches To Public Sector Unions To Ruin
6. Detroit's Public School System, School Board & Teachers' Union
7. Unions & Teachers: The Alpha & Omega
8. Living With Public Sector Unions
9. Public Sector Unions
10. Obama, The Stimulus & Teachers' Unions
11. Yet Another Reason Why Public Sector Unions Should Be Done Away With
12. Grand Theft Democrat
13. Another Win For Teachers Unions, Another Defeat For DC Students
14. Reason 10,001 Why Public Sector Unions Need To Be Outlawed
15. Public Sector Unions Go To War To Prevent Democratic Change In Wisconsin
16. Change You Can't Have: Obama & The DNC Interfere In Wisconsin State Politics
17. Do Public Sector Workers Have A Fundamental Right To Organize?
18. An Instant Classic
19. Boehner, Obama & The DNC: The State Public Sector Union Issues Gets Nationalized
20. Wisconsin - What's At Stake 21. A Democrat & Former NYC Schools Chancellor Condemns Teachers' Unions
22. For The Children? Really?
23. All Of The Stars Align - Time For Republicans To Court The Black Vote
24. NYC & The Benefits Of A Unionized Public School Education
The most incompetent President of the past century to sit a four year term, Jimmy Carter is upset - and rightly so - with the comparison drawn in a recent article in Foreign Policy magazine:
In last month's issue of Foreign Policy magazine, leading analyst and Iraq War supporter Walter Russell Mead opined that President Obama's foreign policy agenda was turning into a duplicate of Jimmy Carter's.
. . . [T]he Carter comparison was clearly meant as an insult. After all, the piece was titled "The Carter Syndrome."
It would seem natural for Obama and his allies to find the piece somewhat insulting -- but the one raising the most stink so far is Carter himself.
The former president penned a 1,500-word letter to the editor complaining about the article's treatment of his foreign policy legacy. That's followed by a second letter to the editor from Zbigniew Brzezinski, his national security adviser. . . .
Jimmy was incompetent - and indeed, he was the midwife to the birth of Iran's theocracy that threatens us all today. That said, Obama's foreign policy appears to be in a class all by itself. Even Jimmy finds any comparison to his own level of incompetence to be insulting.
Tuesday, February 23, 2010
Our economy is in dire straights with the combined total of unemployed and underemployed well into the depression era levels of the 1930's. As the NYT pointed out a few days ago, many of those out of employment today can expect to be out of employment for years. The Obama administration has warred on private enterprise - paying not but lip service to the creation of jobs in the private sector. And now, the next shell is loaded in the Obama's howitzer aimed at private industry and the unwashed masses. Obama's EPA announced today that they will impose regulations on our energy industry next year in an effort to curb the dangerous pollutant that is carbon dioxide - all in an effort to stem global warming.
This from WaPo:
Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa P. Jackson laid out the timetable for regulating greenhouse gas emissions Monday, writing in a letter to lawmakers that she plans to start targeting large facilities such as power plants next year but won't target small emitters before 2016.
The letter makes it clear the Obama administration will move ahead with curbing global warming pollution under the Clean Air Act unless Congress moves to stop it. Jackson emphasized that the administration was required to act under a 2007 Supreme Court decision that said greenhouse gases from motor vehicles qualified as a pollutant under the 40-year-old air-quality law. Jackson was responding to a letter several coal-state senators sent her late Friday.
"I share your goals of ensuring economic recovery at this critical time and of addressing greenhouse-gas emissions in sensible ways that are consistent with the call for comprehensive energy and climate legislation," she wrote.
Under the plan Jackson outlined, major emitters of carbon dioxide that are already seeking air-pollution permits would face regulation as early as the start of 2011. Medium-size emitters such as a large liquor distillery would not face restrictions until the second half of 2011 at the earliest, and smaller facilities such as dry cleaners and hospitals wouldn't come under the rules until 2016. . . .
Wonderful. The science of anthropogenic global warming is, today, in absolute tatters. As discussed here, the best that can be said about AGW today is that it is unproven. They are figuring that out in Europe (though it would seem that nary a word of that is appearing in our MSM). Yet the Obama administration isn't even blinking on this, thus proving beyond a shadow of a doubt that global warming is a political - not scientific - issue. Even treating it as a political issue, does it make any sense to impose higher costs on our energy sector - all of which will be passed on to the end user - during our greatest fiscal crisis since the Great Depression. It makes as much sense today as the Smoot Hawley Tarrif did in 1930. This administration doesn't just need to be voted out of office, they need to be banished to a Siberian gulag where they can contemplate global warming for the rest of their very cold lives - and not do any further damage to our nation.
Obamacare rises from the grave yet again. This is like a B-movie horror flick where the beast cannot be killed - at least until November. Obama seems utterly determined to destroy his party - fine by me, as long as he doesn't destroy health care and our economy along the way. Unfortunately, those are two real possiblities. Here are the short facts on the new Obamacare.
- It retains the Senate Bill with some important additions:
- Obama would add more taxes including a 2.9% capital gains tax increase and a doubling of the Medicare Payroll tax for high income earners.
- The Union fix is still there, but now it has been extended to everyone so that the hefty tax on cadillac health plans will kick in about 2018.
- After all Obama's talk that the laws regarding federal funding for abortion should remain the same, we now get to pay for abortions with our tax dollars.
- Taking a page from Hugo Chavez, we get a new bureacratic office, a federal Health Insurance Rate Authority, to effect national price controls on the cost of health care insurance. Price controls lead inevitably to either higher rates as they stifle competition or they end in scarcity. The justification for this are that the evil insurance companies are scamming us - with the most recent example being the 39% increase in premiums by Anthem in California. The problems - there is "virtually no competition in California when it comes to individual health insurance policies. Anthem pretty much has the market sewn up." Further, healthy people are dropping from the insurance rolls because of the horrid California economy, leaving only those with significant problems in the insurance pools. Take a look at Hugo's economy and you can get a good feel for the effect of price controls.
- Obama has tinkered enough with the Senate bill - and done so with sufficient inattention to detail - that the CBO now says that cannot score Obama's bill.
- AP adds the following:
The plan [includes additional] fees on drug companies and other health industry firms. . . .
Like the House and Senate bills, the plan would require most Americans to carry health insurance coverage, with federal subsidies to help many afford the premiums. Insurance companies would be barred from denying coverage to people with medical problems or charging them more.
Bottom line, I didn't think it possible, but Obama has taken the a nightmare of a bill and actually succeeded in making it worse. Again I ask, why in God's name are Republican's going to meet with Obama on this issue on Thursday. Not since Custer decided to meet for a pow wow at Little Big Horn has there been a decision this idiotic. (Note: Custer did not accept an invitation, I just said that for dramatic effect.)