Sunday, December 31, 2006

Follow up II, Anthro-centric global scare-mongering, XXIb

This was to be a response to the following comment I got to my latest global scare-mongering article:
noiv said...

I agree, what the Independent published at Christmas targets symbolic effects, only. But who really expects science stuff in newspapers December 24th?

Whether, anthropogenic global warming is the root cause for the phenomena under observationWell, that's a contradiction. What you have to see and will convince you of Global Warming. Red rain? Ice free north pole?

But asking for the root, do you still think C02 does not heat up atmosphere?

Fri Dec 29, 10:12:00 AM CST

I decided that it would be good to put down my response in a more visible place than the comments section, and to clarify some of the things that global warmists have come to assume about skeptics like me.

We don't know what caused the Medieval Warming Period. We don't know what caused the Little Ice Age. To claim that we now know with certainty what has caused the approximately one degree Celsius increase in average temperature world-wide since the turn of the 20th century is preposterous. Especially when that certainty will lead to huge political and economic changes.

Before we go and bet the farm on a computer model of global climate, how about modeling past climate variations successfully; for example, the period of time covered by the Medieval Warming Period and the Little Ice Age.

Then before we go any further, how about a model that predicts global temperatures for the next 10-20 years?

Since your question was phrased as if I have "believed" for some time that CO2 does not heat up the atmosphere, let me help you out. I'm aware of the effects of greenhouse gases (water vapor, methane, and others as well as CO2) on Venus. Since the increase in average temperatures world-wide has only been about a single degree Celsius – and the cause of that is in hot dispute – I have no truck with the notion that we are anywhere near a "tipping point" that will cause temperatures to increase dramatically. And that's because nobody can tell me how much the increased CO2 has increased temperatures. I'd rather wait to impose draconian environmental measures until someone can tell me.

I agree with Michael Crichton that the so-called "precautionary principle" has the effect of supporting and maintaining the economic advantages of the West; as Crichton puts it, "It is a nice way of saying, 'We got ours and we don't want you to get yours, because you'll cause too much pollution.' "

The unbelievable faith that global warmists have in governments to "save us" from ourselves is one of the most startling things about this whole global warming business. Nobody seems to remember how thoroughly the Soviet Union was under the sway of central planners and how thoroughly its economy was destroyed thereby. Nobody seems to notice that the great oil wealth coupled with the determined socialism of Venezuela has not and will not relieve the poverty there...still over 50% of the population after decades of oil exploitation. Nobody seems to notice how our own government has handled things like the War on Drugs or the War on Poverty or even the War in Iraq. And now the global warmists want world-wide co-operation in the control of air pollutants? When there has never been anything even remotely resembling such a level of world-wide co-operation before? Who's zoomin' who, here? My guess (sorry, this is going to be crass) is that the global warmists would be happy just to have more opportunities to sue people.

I have no doubt that human activity has increased CO2 levels in the atmosphere. I have no doubt that temperatures have risen slightly in the past century. My belief is that the majority of the recorded temperature increase has come from land use, not CO2.

Finally, I'm with Lord Monckton, Viscount of Brenchley, on the whole shutting up of dissenters thing. That is, it is unconscionable of the global warmists – led by esteemed Congresscritters Snowe and Rockefeller – to suggest that research to debunk global warming theories should be halted. All that their whining suggests is that they're afraid that they'll lose political power if the research punches holes in their pet theories.

And, once more for the road, consensus is not science.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Follow up: Anthro-centric global scare-mongering, XXIa

My original post garnered a few (international) comments. I thought that they contributed enough to the issue to be worth highlighting here. I hope that the discussion continues.

carlp said...

These links might help you understand how scientists measure sea level to the millimeter. It's a long process taking a few years and they take an average. They use tool called a tide gauge. Because tides are included in this average your question on why the high tide doesn't submerge the island has no bearing, of course it would as the sea level rises.

It might also be interesting for you to know that Lohachara has not disappeared over night, here the article is misleading and a bit sensational. It has been a slow process over 30 years and everyone has since left the island long before. The news is that the island is now officially submerged, which is a historical milestone - it's not everyday this happens. Additionally scientists have found that a dozen other islands will await the same fate due to the rising sea levels. This doesn't really have much bearing on you, but residents of those islands have to deal with this sobering fact.

You should really contact Dr Sugata Hazra at Jadavpur University
( with your findings and questions. I'm sure you're insight that it's all caused by erosion and not a rise in sea level would be very helpful and may present a new direction to his research. Also, the 2 million inhabitants of the Sandabaran islands would also be very grateful.

Of course, you should be careful that Dr Hazra might just be another one of the many crazy liberal Indian scientists who are pretending Islands are sinking for their own political and monetary gain and will ignore your expert oceanographic advice.

Please, get a clue. You're not doing anyone a favor by showing your ignorance. This is a widely reported incident, a simple yahoo search shows articles from newspapers all over the world. Frankly, it doesn't matter if you don't believe the seas are rising, it's not a question of belief but one of reality as those refugees who have left the islands can attest.

This is not an isolated event. Many of the pacific islands are facing the same dangers and are scrambling to figure out what to do.


Mon Dec 25, 07:12:00 PM CST

Steve Erbach said...

Dear Carl,

I am very happy that you took the time to comment on my post. I'm actually flattered that you took the time. Thank you.

I read the links you sent on the determination of sea level. Thank you again. Nothing in those articles, however, persuades me that my questions were nonsensical.

For example, the Wikipedia article and your comment both talked about measuring seal level "to the millimeter". My post scoffed at the measurement to the hundredth of a millimeter. If it is difficult to make measurements in the millimeter range, then how can an average in the hundredth of a millimeter range make any sense scientifically?

That's the small stuff. Lets assume that the sea level changed three inches over the period of, say, twenty years. My surprise that the island disappeared entirely is based on a speculation: how far above sea level was the high point on this island in the first place? Seems to me that it couldn't have been much more than three inches if it is now completely submerged. If we go back historically and examine the island's area versus its height above sea level, would we not find that the size of the island varied widely over the years? The people living on it would have found their homes swept away on a regular basis if they were built on an island only a few inches above sea level.

As to your assertion that it is a widely reported incident, I've seen a number of the newspaper articles from "all over the world" that you mentioned. Most of those articles repeat the same information. Exactly none of them raise any questions at all about the assertion that the sea level rise is, essentially, man-made. That is, that it's a function of anthropogenic global warming. The articles simply repeat the mantra of the tragic evacuations that have taken place over the last couple of decades.

I am puzzled as to why you would say that my questions are based in ignorance. I would say that any intelligent person would ask themselves if a three inch sea level rise (I have to assume that since anthropogenic global warming has only been a factor in the past few decades that we should only talk about a sea level rise in that period of time) on an island formed by the effluent of the Ganges and Brahmaputra Rivers might not have been more affected by the forces of erosion in the delta than by sea level rise. Ockham's Razor.

I'm not questioning the "reality" you describe that the island has disappeared. I question the assertion that it's because of global warming. Dr. Sugata Hazra may have done a bang-up job of measuring sea level rise over a period of decades, but how does that support the conclusion?

Steve Erbach
The Town Crank
Tue Dec 26, 06:03:00 AM CST

GuS said...

believe it or not it's happening, and if ppl continue thinking like you do, i mean, if ppl do not realize global warming is dangerous and may cause some weird shit around the globe it will get even worse, maybe to do an irreversible point.

here in my area we been experiencing some crazy weather over the past years, you see, 40 years ago we used to have a cold weather for today's standards, during winter time we used to get down to 0°C or 32ºF, nowadays, we hardly get below 12ºC or 50ºF + on summer time we now get twice as much rain as we used to and the floods are becomingo worse every year.

this current month we had in 2 days, the rain we would normally have in the whole month of december.

in july, our winter, we had temperatures over 40ºC or over 90ºF , when the normal should be around 5ºC!

when i graduated from the university 4 years ago, i did my research project in the southernmost city of the world, ushuaia, in argentina, there i was able to see how the weather is actually changing, because differently from where i live the region is almost unhabitated and its right under the ozon layer hole. it was pretty sad seeing pictures of an area where the glaciers once existed everywhere down to only one left (glaciar luiz martial) which was reduced to less than a 10th than what it was some 80 years ago...

so believe it or not, it's happening!

it's time for ppl like you to wake up, things are changing and it's just the beggining.. who knows when or where the next change will take place...

it could be your area, or island, or country. it doesn't really take too much to vannish with a whole state or city, deppending on where you live, it's just a matter of months without rain, snow, or with plenty of them.

good luck to you guys,

GuS - São Paulo - Brazil
Tue Dec 26, 06:20:00 AM CST

Steve Erbach said...


I am doubly flattered that someone from São Paulo would leave a comment on my humble (yet deadly accurate) blog. Thank you!

When you refer to "it's happening" what is it you're talking about? You mention the ozone hole, glaciers melting, floods, weather changes...

Lets take melting glaciers, for example. Some are melting and some are increasing in size. What are we to make of that? For every scientific paper that chronicles the retreat of glaciers in one place, there's another that chronicles the increase of glaciers in another place. This is not in dispute.

What is in dispute is the level of damage being visited upon the environment from anthropogenic causes as well as actually determining which causes are anthropogenic and which are not.

» it's time for ppl like you to wake up «

Since you raised the issue, I feel no qualms about saying that that sort of approach proves that those that claim the moral high ground in the environmental / global warming debates are mainly interested in shutting up "ppl" like me and satisfying their own desire for power.

I will defer to Lord Monckton, Viscount of Brenchley, who reminds us in America of what scientific dissent actually means: "Sceptics and those who have the courage to support them are actually helpful in getting the science right. They do not ... 'obfuscate' the issue: they assist in clarifying it by challenging weaknesses in the 'consensus' argument, and they compel necessary corrections."

No matter what anyone says, concensus about anthropogenic global warming is not science.

Steve Erbach
The Town Crank
Tue Dec 26, 09:32:00 AM CST

Anonymous said...

Strange how climate-change alarmists always look at the glass as half empty instead of half full, assuming their theory of man-induced climate change is correct. I mean is it really a good idea to live mere inches above sea level? Particularly when you live in an area subject to hurricanes or typhoons? Do rising temperatures necessarily mean doom and gloom? Wooly Mammoths were wiped out 10,000 years ago by rising temperatures which made North America the inhabitable region it is today. Was that a bad thing?

Check out the following link for a great set of videos made by scientists who don’t buy the current theory touted as fact.

Tue Dec 26, 11:18:00 AM CST

Anonymous said...

That should read "which made North America the habitable region it is today." instead of inhabitable.


Tue Dec 26, 11:22:00 AM CST

Steve Erbach said...


I appreciate the links very much. Thank you.

Also, I'll let you get away with substituting inhabitable for habitable. Not much difference in the dictionary definitions...

Habitable: capable of being lived in; suitable for habitation

Inhabitable, adjective form of the verb, inhabit: to occupy as a place of settled residence or habitat; live in

Thanks for your comments.

Steve Erbach
The Town Crank
Tue Dec 26, 01:43:00 PM CST

RobC said...

Neither did I when I read it! Found your article while digging up the dirt on Geoffry Dimwitt.

I really hate it when journalists do not get the facts right just to get a sensational headline, thank goodness we now have the WWW to howl our disgust at junk journalim and junk science.

And Carl, where is Steve being ignorant? The journalist that wrote the original article was ignorant and lazy to boot for not doing a ounce of fact checking. Steve did way more digging than he ever did.

Wed Dec 27, 02:26:00 AM CST

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

I love stories like this, LXXXI

Kids are not the most precious thing in the government-funded compulsory attendance matriculation centers. If you doubt that, ask yourself why this kid was expelled:
Dec 13, 2006 11:17 pm US/Central

Teen Expelled From School For Turning In Found Gun

Plainfield Student's Parents Say The Punishment Doesn't Make Sense

Dana Kozlov

(CBS) PLAINFIELD, Ill. A 13-year-old Plainfield boy and his parents are stunned and outraged after the teen found a gun in school and turned it in to authorities, who then expelled him.

CBS 2's Dana Kozlov reports Ryan Morgan's parents and supporters attended the school board meeting Wednesday evening to try to fight the expulsion. They believe the punishment, and the subsequent alternative school option, are not the proper responses to a mistake made by a teenage boy.

Ryan Morgan, 13, says he pocketed a pellet gun he and a friend found in their school's bathroom to keep people safe. Morgan's mother says a short time later Morgan gave the gun to the Troy Middle School assistant principal.

"I told him maybe that wasn't the best decision, to remove that gun, but it did lead to you finding the culprit, he was arrested and to put my son in alternative school -- he has no behavior problems," Audrey Morgan, Ryan's mother, said.

The Morgans say there was no reasoning with the principal or with the school superintendent.

"He said, 'The board can give your son full two-year expulsion, I'm asking you not to go before them,'" Audrey Morgan said.

They went anyway, saying they had nothing to lose, only to see the meeting minutes already recommend expulsion.

Roy Morgan says he can't accept that, but accepts his son's decision.

"He said 'I'm going to turn this in' and you know what, I commend my son for making that decision. It was the right decision," he said.

School board officials issued a statement Wednesday night saying due to confidentiality reasons they can't discuss the specifics of this case, but that "purposeful possession of weapons is a serious offense and deserves careful consideration by the administration and the school board."

Can you tell what's most important here? It's compliance with the rule; the rule that a child should not touch a gun ("purposeful possession") but should report it to an adult. So a kid breaks the rule in order to turn in the gun in person and is rewarded with expulsion and shunning by the school board.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Anthro-centric global scare-mongering, XXI

The Independent has taken a bold stance. The Independent's "Environment Editor Geoffrey Lean" reports:
Rising seas, caused by global warming, have for the first time washed an inhabited island off the face of the Earth. The obliteration of Lohachara island, in India's part of the Sundarbans where the Ganges and the Brahmaputra rivers empty into the Bay of Bengal, marks the moment when one of the most apocalyptic predictions of environmentalists and climate scientists has started coming true.

The article doesn't mention things that one might want to know about this startling event; such as, how much has the sea risen over the past several years that might account for such a thing? Or how long has Lohachara Island been in existence?

I asked myself that last question because the island, as indicated in the article, is located in the delta of the Ganges and Brahmaputra Rivers, the largest river delta in the world (check for yourself here and here – that's the source for the picture at top). It seemed to me that there could possibly be another explanation than "rising seas" to explain the disappearance of Lohachara Island.

I first tried to find out more about this event by looking for Lohachara Island on the GoreNet. I went to Yahoo! to use Yahoo! Maps and I was distracted by this and it kinda turned my stomach for a while, but I soldiered on (don't say I didn't warn you!).

Anyway, I searched for Lochachara Island and found this:
By 2020, 12 more Sunderban islands will be under water –


The Indian Express : Sagar Island (Sunderbans), October 29

An annual 3.14 mm rise in sea level at Sunderbans due to climate change is eating away 12 islands on the delta, says a study by a group of scientists from Jadavpur University.

The review says around 70,000 residents of Sunderban delta may turn into "environmental refugees" in the next 14 years unless the government initiates counter measures right away.

The findings, carried out by a team of scientists from Jadavpur University's School of Oceanographic Studies, are part of a vulnerability assessment project.

The effect is expected to be catastrophic for the residents of the ecologically sensitive islands - a major exodus, as the rising water level would submerge large chunks of land by 2020.

In fact, the intruding salty water has already had its effects on the region's flora and fauna: Lohachara and Bedford islands, with an area of more than six square kilometres between them, "vanished from the map" two decades ago.

Result: it left thousands of residents as "environmental refugees".

Prof Sugata Hazra, director, School of Oceanographic Studies, said: "A preliminary survey reveals that around 7,000 people have been displaced from their original habitat in Sunderbans over the last 30 years. They have turned into environmental refugees due to the sea-level rise, coastal erosion, cyclone and coastal flooding."

The migrants, now living in various refugee colonies, are just an indication of what is in store for the world-renowned mangrove islands, the scientists warned. The islands are also a habitat for the endangered Royal Bengal Tiger.

That last point is quite significant. Nothing like concern for animals to get people to push urgent political agendae.

But wait a minute. Is it sea level rise or is it something else or is somebody confused? The article I just quoted at length says that Lohachara Island "vanished from the map" two decades ago. If that's the case, then the article in The Independent is really old news. I mean, that was long before certain environmental groups got their g-strings in a gordian over sea level rise, much less global warming.

Also, the phrase "coastal erosion" gives a better indication of what went on either two decades ago or who-knows-when. These islands are part of a delta. A delta "creates" land by depositing silt from up-river at its mouth. Very rich, fertile land. Isn't it just possible that the disappearance of Lohachara Island was due to erosion from the currents within the delta?

Another similar article said that Lohachara Island disappeared within the last "three decades". Both of them point out that measurements of sea level rise have shown a rise of over three millimeters a year. Doing the math, that means that in, say, 30 years, the sea level "rise" will amount to 94.2 to 105 mm. That's 3.71 to 4.13 inches. One has to wonder how the scientists made such a measurement of 3.14 mm, too. Measuring sea levels to a hundredth of an inch?

Finally, what clinches the bogusness of this whole thing is that a rise of that tiny magnitude would submerge a whole island. One has to wonder how high above sea level Lohachara Island was. I mean, what about tides? If an entire island disappears because of a 3-inch rise in sea level, what happened when the tide came in?

Nope, I don't believe it.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Recent commentary: Christmas memory

What is your favorite Christmas memory?

(published 25-Dec-2006, Appleton Post-Crescent)

I learned something important about manners one Christmas in Appleton twenty years ago or so. My peripatetic younger brother (currently in Afghanistan managing a military construction operation. No! Not Halliburton! Settle down!) hosted a family Christmas gift exchange. I'm a voracious reader; thus it can be chancy buying a book for me. Well, my mother bought me a book I'd just read! I unwrapped it and smiled a big smile, but I made the mistake of saying, "I already own this." My mother, always gracious, made light of it; but I realized instantly that it would have been better to say, "I've been meaning to buy this for myself! Thank you! He's my favorite author!" It brought home to me that it's far better sometimes to tell a lie that brings a smile than to tell a truth that makes one's mother feel that her son is an unmannered galoot!

Thursday, December 21, 2006

I love stories like this, LXXX

Actually, I don't, but it's part of the public school experience to turn 4 and 5-year-olds into sexual predators:
Hug lands 4-year-old in suspension

Sunday, December 10, 2006

By Emily Ingram

Tribune-Herald staff writer

When a Bellmead father received a letter from his son’s school district saying the 4-year-old had inappropriately touched a teacher’s aide, he said he couldn’t believe what he was reading.

“When I got that letter, my world flipped,” DaMarcus Blackwell said.

The Nov. 13 letter from La Vega Independent School District stated his son, who was 4 years old at the time, was involved in “inappropriate physical behavior interpreted as sexual contact and/or sexual harassment” after the boy hugged a teacher’s aide and “rubbed his face in the chest of (the) female employee” on Nov. 10.

The letter also stated Blackwell’s son, who Blackwell requested not be named in this story for privacy reasons, spent the day in in-school suspension (ISS) as punishment for the incident.

Then there's the case of this 5-year-old:
Wednesday December 20, 2006

School accuses 5-year-old of sex harassment


HAGERSTOWN - A kindergarten student was accused earlier this month of sexually harassing a classmate at Lincolnshire Elementary School, an accusation that will remain on his record until he moves to middle school.

Washington County Public Schools spokeswoman Carol Mowen said the definition of sexual harassment used by the school system is, "unwelcome sexual advances, request for sexual favors and/or other inappropriate verbal, written or physical conduct of a sexual nature directed toward others."

Mowen said that definition comes from the Maryland State Department of Education.

According to a school document provided by the boy's father, the 5-year-old pinched a girl's buttocks on Dec. 8 in a hallway at the school south of Hagerstown.

Charles Vallance, the boy's father, said he was unable to explain to his son what he had done.

"He knows nothing about sex," Vallance said. "There's no way to explain what he's been written up for. He knows it as playing around. He doesn't know it as anything sexual at all."

The incident was described as "sexual harassment" on the school form.

Lincolnshire Principal Darlene Teach said "Anytime a student touches another student inappropriately, it could be sexual harassment."

During the 2005-06 school year, 28 kindergarten students in Maryland were suspended for sex offenses, including sexual assault, sexual harassment and sexual activity, according to state data. Fifteen of those suspensions were for sexual harassment.

During the 2005-06 school year, one Washington County prekindergarten student was suspended from school, and 12 of the county's kindergartners were suspended for various offenses, according to state data.

Don't the kids suffer enough in the government-funded compulsory matriculation centers without this hanging over their heads for their entire school careers?

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

"You defy every tenet of democracy"

You defy every tenet of democracy when you invite ExxonMobil to deny itself the right to provide information to “senior elected and appointed government officials” who disagree with your opinion.

That is what British Lord Monckton, Viscount of Brenchley, wrote to U. S. Senators Olympia Snowe and Jay Rockefeller in response to their veiled threat to ExxonMobil. Our Congresscritters had, essentially, told ExxonMobil to shut up and stop funding research that might cast doubt on global warming. Here are a few of the absolutely choice things Lord Monckton had to say:
Sceptics and those who have the courage to support them are actually helpful in getting the science right. They do not, as you improperly suggest, “obfuscate” the issue: they assist in clarifying it by challenging weaknesses in the “consensus” argument, and they compel necessary corrections…

You acknowledge the effectiveness of the climate sceptics. In so doing, you pay a compliment to the courage of those free-thinking scientists who continue to research climate change independently despite the likelihood of refusal of publication in journals that have taken preconceived positions; the hate mail and vilification from ignorant environmentalists; and the threat of loss of tenure in institutions of learning which no longer make any pretence to uphold or cherish academic freedom.

Anyone who believes in the supposed “consensus” on climate change and yet is not willing to countenance the immediate reintroduction and widespread development of nuclear energy as the most important and essential mitigative measure available to us cannot expect to be taken seriously.

Your comparison of Exxon's funding of sceptical scientists and groups with the former antics of the tobacco industry is unjustifiable and unworthy of any credible elected representatives. Either withdraw that monstrous comparison forthwith, or resign so as not to pollute the office you hold.

I challenge you to withdraw or resign because your letter is the latest in what appears to be an internationally-coordinated series of maladroit and malevolent attempts to silence the voices of scientists and others…

It takes a Brit to put American politicians in their place.

Time wimps out! Buchanan gets it!

Remember that I suggested that Time Magazine name Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Kim Jong Il as co-Persons of the Year? Time went completely limp and named, well, everybody -- "You" -- as Person of the Year. They even got cute and put a mirror on the cover of the magazine! Say! Who is that good-lookin' Person of the Year, eh?

Well, Pat Buchanan must have seen my column in the Post-Crescent 'cause he thinks that Ahmadinejad is the man:
Time's Man of the Year, now Person of the Year, is the figure who, for good or evil, dominates the news. Yet this year Time could not bring itself to name the obvious choice. Instead, it chose you and me, all of us citizens of the digital democracy who create on the Worldwide Web. Why the copout?

Perhaps it was Ahmadinejad's hosting of a conference of Holocaust skeptics, including David Duke, that caused Time to recoil. Perhaps it was fear that the face of the Iranian president on the cover of Time would repel the American people and be death for sales.

Surely that was the reasoning behind Time's refusal to name Osama bin Laden in 2001, choosing Rudy Giuliani instead, though history is unlikely to conclude that Rudy, his crowded hour notwithstanding, was the central figure of that annus horribilis.

Richard Stengel, editor of Time, as much as concedes he could not bring himself to choose by the traditional standard, if that meant choosing Ahmadinejad: "It just felt to me a little off selecting him."

Understandably. But the refusal to select Ahmadinejad reveals an unwillingness to confront hard truths. For putting his face on Time's cover would have done a useful service, jolting America to a painful realization.

Zucker strikes again!

Monday, December 18, 2006

The year in "science"

Excellent list on of the "Top Ten Junk Science Moments" of 2006. From the introduction to the article:

It’s time again for’s review of the most notable junk science events of the year – a “top 10” list that may sometimes make you think that the year 1007, rather than 2007, is just around the corner.

1. Some Real Inconvenient Truth.
2. Board of Health or Bored of Science?
3. What Hurricane Season?
4. Day of Reckoning for DDT Foes?
5. Cosmic ray study fails to penetrate lead-lined media.
6. Stem cell fraud and futility.
7. Low-fat diet myth busted.
8. Woodpecker Racket.
9. Food police indict SpongeBob Squarepants.
10. California’s Not-so-deadly Air.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Anthro-centric global scare-mongering, XX

Well, at least it ain't us this time! It's cows!
A United Nations report has identified the world's rapidly growing herds of cattle as the greatest threat to the climate, forests and wildlife. And they are blamed for a host of other environmental crimes, from acid rain to the introduction of alien species, from producing deserts to creating dead zones in the oceans, from poisoning rivers and drinking water to destroying coral reefs.

Livestock are responsible for 18 per cent of the greenhouse gases that cause global warming, more than cars, planes and all other forms of transport put together.

So, is it to be an enormous scene from "Hud" where we shoot all the cows to save the planet? Well, break out the barbecue sauce, then. We'll have a heap o' ribs to polish off!

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Anthro-centric global scare-mongering, XIX

A bit of sloppy media work recently in the ACGSM arena. Matthew Sheffield reports on the hearing yesterday in Congress on "the role of the media in promoting climate alarmism". He attended the hearing but notes that
I haven't found a single news source that quoted from today's hearing. I did see and converse with several reporters but so far have yet to read any coverage.

I went into the hearing expecting it would be more interesting than your typical congressional hearing and wasn't disappointed. Dr. David Deming, a geophysicist from the University of Oklahoma recounted an experience he had with an NPR reporter who hung up on him after he declined to say that he thought global temperature increases were human-caused.

Apparently I was not joined in my assessment of things by CNN "American Morning" anchor Miles O'Brien who fell asleep during the discussion, according to several witnesses. Only a colleague's nudge prevented the slumbering former science correspondent from missing the entire discussion. One would think that O'Brien could have scared up some more interest considering his ongoing feud with Sen. Inhofe. The two have tangled on O'Brien's CNN show and both have denounced each other from their respective platforms.

Why is this significant? Can't you guess? It's the topic of the hearing. What self-respecting, left-leaning, make-a-difference-in-the-world reporter is going to sit still for being told that he slants the news about climate change?

From the committee's web site:
Scientists testifying at the hearing described how much of the media has over-hyped the coverage of global warming and used scare tactics to garner public attention. Paleoclimate researcher Bob Carter of Australia’s James Cook University, who has had over 100 papers published refereed scientific journals, noted that “there is huge uncertainly in every aspect of climate change.”

"If you look at the ice core records, you will discover that yes, changes in carbon dioxide are accompanied by changes in temperature, but you will also discover that the change in temperature precedes the change in carbon dioxide by several hundred years to a thousand or so years. Reflect on that. And reflect on when you last heard somebody say that they thought lung cancer caused smoking. Because that is what you are arguing if you argue on the glacial time scale that changes in carbon dioxide cause temperature changes. It is the other way around,” Carter testified.

Carter also noted that the media promotes “Could-sm, might-ism and perhaps-ism, fueled by computer modeling.”

Carter explained, “If, could, may, might, probably, perhaps, likely, expected, projected ...Wonderful words. So wonderful, in fact, that environmental writers scatter them through their articles on climate change like confetti. The reason is that – in the absence of empirical evidence for damaging human-caused climate change – public attention is best captured by making assertions about “possible” change. And, of course, using the output of computer models in support, virtually any type of climatic hazard can be asserted as a possible future change.”

On Thanksgiving day I read "State of Fear" by Michael Crichton. Haven't read an entire book in one day in quite a while. Very good book in which the environmentalists are bad guys with guns! The plot involves the foiling of a number of horrific environmental disasters brought on by eco-terrorists. Great stuff! Very refreshing tonic for the looming disaster din from the media.

I was reminded of Crichton's speech, Aliens Cause Global Warming, given three years ago. Give it a read.

I love stories like this, LXXIX

The headline for this article isn't punchy enough: "Student sues over 10-day suspension". Here's how it should read: "Principal needs narc, blackmails student, student sues". I'm sure the New York Daily News or the U. K. Sun could do a better job with the headline than I can.

The point is, a Sissonville, WV, high school student was clowning around for a friend with a cell phone video camera. He pretended to insert a piece of candy up his nose. Calvin McKinney, the principal of this GOvernment-FUnded Compulsory-Attendance Secondary Matriculation (makes an interesting acronym, n'est-ce pas?) compound, got wind of the stunt and
threatened to suspend the student unless he joined McKinney’s “Narc Program” and went undercover to find real drug users at the school. [He] was told that he was to ‘hang around the bathroom’ and the school parking lot.

McKinney’s investigation into the incident confirmed that the student was telling the truth about the Smarties candy, according to the suit.

“The plaintiff was informed that even though it was, in fact, just candy ... McKinney needed another ‘Narc’ for his program and that if the student would not agree to enter said Narc Program that he would be suspended

Egad! It was a piece of candy, a Smartie. The kid refused to co-operate and so, true to his word, McKinney suspended him for ten days.
The suit seeks an injunction against the school board and unspecified monetary damages for emotional distress, loss of enjoyment of life and the loss of a potential scholarship. It contends that requiring the student to seek out potential drug users could put the student in danger.

I think if that happened to my kid, I'd park myself outside the principal's office and, in a loud, steady voice, declare that he was an over-educated, pusillanimous, puff-gutted prig and that he should do the school district a favor and resign.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Recent commentary: what should Congress tackle?

What issue should the new Democratic Congress deal with first?

(published 9-Dec-2006, Appleton Post-Crescent)

New Congress' top priorities: Iraq and Afghanistan, national security, immigration and seriously cutting government spending.

Then let's abolish payroll withholding. It's more important for our freedom that we experience firsthand how much is being siphoned, sucked and hoovered out of our paychecks. If every wage earner had to send a quarterly check to the guvmint like businesses do, boy, howdy! Taxes would be cut right quick.

Those who shout the most about oil price controls, increasing the minimum wage, high levels of foreign investment, outsourcing jobs and national health insurance haven't a clue about how the economy works. If you think that, because we live in a democracy, we can vote ourselves "free" health care, low gas prices and high-paying jobs, you'd better get your doctor to prescribe the good tranquilizers.

Have your congressman explain why the minimum wage can't be a "living wage" of $20 or $30 an hour.

Let people save for their own retirements. Let people give to the poor themselves rather than extorting "charity" in the form of taxes that give the bureaucrats a good living before they give to the poor.

Forget about global warming. But if you can't forget about it, then double the number of atomic power plants and shut down the oil- and gas-fired plants and make OPEC drink its own oil.

Repeal the No Child Left Behind and the Patriot acts. Dismantle the departments of Education and Transportation. And repeal all tariffs, subsidies (including farm and business subsidies) and price controls (including rent and medical prices).

One more thing: congressional term limits. Two terms for senators, six for representatives. If the president can be term-limited, why not Congress?

Remember the words of that wise man, Harry Browne: Government breaks your leg, hands you a crutch, then tells you you're better off.

Steve Erbach, Neenah

I love stories like this, LXXVIII

Here are two versions of a statement on "Equity and Race Relations" in the Seattle Public Schools. The first contains an interesting phrase (emphasis mine):
The intended purpose of our work in the area of race and social justice is to bring communities together through open dialogue and honest reflection around what is meant by racism and the impact is has on our society, and more specifically, our students. Our intention is not to put up additional barriers or develop an “us against them” mindset; nor is it to continue to hold onto unsuccessful concepts such as a melting pot or colorblind mentality.

"Unsuccessful concepts", no less. They're only "unsuccessful" because hating America has become more important than adapting to our culture.

Do you need a bit of persuading to come to that conclusion? George Will points out that the Seattle web site had something a bit different on its web site not too long ago:
Until June, the school district's Web site declared that "cultural racism'' includes "emphasizing individualism as opposed to a more collective ideology,'' "having a future time orientation'' (planning ahead) and "defining one form of English as standard.'' The site also asserted that only whites can be racists, and disparaged assimilation as the "giving up'' of one's culture.

"A more collective ideology", no less. On a public school web site, no less. Anybody doubt that leftists control the public schools?

Here's James Taranto in Best of the Web Today:
This is in fact baldly racist. In concept it is distinguishable from white supremacy only in its refusal to condone value judgments. But the real world imposes its own "value judgments," and in practice it seems obviously pernicious to inculcate black children with the idea that because of the color of their skin, they cannot learn to plan ahead or to speak standard English.

Advocates of affirmative action, thus, have abandoned the goal of "getting beyond racism," upon which it was originally imposed on the public. Affirmative action has become a way of perpetuating discrimination rather than overcoming it. It is, at best, an experiment that has failed.

This is all very topical because of two cases before the Supreme Court: Parents Involved in Community Schools v. Seattle School District No. 1, and Meredith v. Jefferson County Board of Education. Arguments were heard yesterday in both of these cases. Here's a report on these cases. From all accounts it appears that affirmative action will earn a well-deserved reversal.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Anthro-centric global scare-mongering, XVIII

A Scottish company has offered to buy movie tickets for every secondary school child to see "An Inconvenient Truth":
[ScottishPower], a major windfarm developer which also runs the coal-fired Longannet power station, is prepared to commit "tens of thousands of pounds" to the project and is currently in negotiations with the Scottish Executive to secure its backing.

ScottishPower, which has also given copies of Mr Gore's book of the same name, An Inconvenient Truth, to hundreds of its staff, plans to pay for cinema screenings for older children in primary schools and all secondary pupils. The firm is currently discussing with the Executive how pupils could be bussed to cinemas, and to cinema owners about times for screenings.

[Stephen Dunn, the company's director of human resources and communications, said,] "In helping get this film out to schoolchildren, we give them the opportunity to think about what we are doing to this Earth in a very simple way - kids take very complex things and make them very easy much better than adults can."

Playing both sides of the environmental street, I see. Wind farms and coal-fired power plants. This reminds me of the fact that companies in the U. S. give political campaign contributions to both Democrats and Republicans.

I hope the kids won't fall asleep. Seems to me that "The Day After Tomorrow" might be a better bet to hold their attention. I would also hope that the bit of irony in the movie poster for "An Inconvenient Truth" isn't lost on the kids: a hurricane coming from a smokestack. I hope someone is honest enough to point out that not a single hurricane hit the U. S. this year even though a lot of people wished for them after last year.

Now, if this same company will buy a copy of Michael Crichton's "State of Fear" and Bjorn Lomborg's "The Skeptical Environmentalist" for each of these children, too...

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Heinlein would have loved this judge

Robert A. Heinlein, "the dean of American science fiction authors", had a Julian Simon-like optimism about the state of the world, America in particular. Not for him the fashionable pessimism and misanthropic tendencies of today's doom-and-gloomers.

In 1980 Heinlein published a book called "Expanded Universe", a collection of essays and short fiction. The last selection in the book is called "The Happy Days Ahead". It's a fantasy about a black woman becoming President of the United States. She is the complete anti-Jesse Jackson, anti-Kweisi Mfume, anti-Charles Rangel type of black woman, though. She believed that people didn't need laws to kill prejudice; that they didn't need special preferences:
No more Black Americans. No more Japanese Americans. Israel is not our country and neither is Ireland. A group calling itself La Raza had better mean the human race – the whole human race – or they'll get the same treatment from me as the Ku Klux Klan. Amerindians looking for special favors will have just two choices: Either come out and be Americans and accept the responsibilities of citizenshp ... or go back to the reservation and shut up. Some of their ancestors got a rough deal. But so did yours and so did mine. There are no Anglos left alive who were at Wounded Knee or Little Big Horn, so it's time to shut up about it.

I intend to refuse to see any splinter group claiming to deserve special treatment not accorded other citizens and I will veto any legislation perverted to that end. Wheat farmers. Bankrupt corporations. Bankrupt cities. Labor leaders claiming to represent "the workers" when most of the people they claim to represent repudiate any such leadership. Business leaders just as phony. Anyone who wants the deck stacked in his favor because, somehow, he's "special".

Stirring stuff! I recommend it. Especially the part of the story dealing with her sponsorship of something she calls "The Plain English Amendment". I've mentioned this before but it bears repeating in light of the story I read today that I'll get to in a minute.

The Plain English Amendment
permits a citizen to challenge the Constitutionality of any law or regulation, Federal or any lesser authority, on the grounds that it is ambivalent, equivocal, or cannot be understood by a person of average intelligence.

Madam President believes that the amendment could be passed even though Congress and all the state legislatures have a majority of lawyers:
[E]very one of them not anxious to lose his job. That's their weakness...because it's awfully easy to work up hate against lawyers.

Now, how is this possibly relevant to anything happening now? I'm glad you asked. In a November 29th AP story:
LOS ANGELES (AP) - [U.S. District Judge Audrey Collins] struck down President Bush's authority to designate groups as terrorists, saying his post-Sept. 11 executive order was unconstitutionally vague, according to a ruling released Tuesday.

You can read the details for yourself. The part that made Heinlein's fantasy concrete was at the very end of the article (emphasis mine):
In 2004, Collins ruled that portions of the Patriot Act were too vague and, even after Congress amended the act in 2005, she ruled the provisions remained too vague to be understood by a person of average intelligence and were therefore unconstitutional.

While a quick check of the Constitution reveals nothing about how smart the citizens have to be to grant powers to the federal government, I am 100% in favor of rulings of this nature; that is, striking down a law because it is "ambivalent, equivocal, or cannot be understood by a person of average intelligence." If you wonder whether the IRS code would fit the definition, you win a kewpie doll!

Thank you, Robert A. Heinlein!

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Anthro-centric global scare-mongering, XVII

Where do they dig up guys like this? I was temporarily relieved that the guy is in favor of atomic power, but the rest!
James Lovelock, who angered climate scientists with his Gaia theory of a living planet and then alienated environmentalists by backing nuclear power, said a traumatized earth might only be able to support less than a tenth of it's 6 billion people.

"We are not all doomed. An awful lot of people will die, but I don't see the species dying out," he told a news conference. "A hot earth couldn't support much over 500 million."

"Almost all of the systems that have been looked at are in positive feedback ... and soon those effects will be larger than any of the effects of carbon dioxide emissions from industry and so on around the world," he added.

Scientists say that global warming due to carbon emissions from burning fossil fuels for power and transport could boost average temperatures by up to 6C by the end of the century causing floods, famines and violent storms.

But they also say that tough action now to cut carbon emissions could stop atmospheric concentrations of CO2 hitting 450 parts per million -- equivalent to a temperature rise of 2C from pre-industrial levels -- and save the planet.

Lovelock said temperature rises of up to 8C were already built in and while efforts to curb it were morally commendable, they were wasted.

"It is a bit like if your kidneys fail you can go on dialysis -- and who would refuse dialysis if death is the alternative. We should think of it in that context," he said.

And you thought erstwhile Vice President Gore was out there! Temperature rises of up to 8 degress Celsius are "already built in"? Unbelievable.

Why do I think that? Because his predictions are based on computer models. I don't mind computer models at all, but it would make a lot of sense to me if those models could, as Michael Crichton has suggested, predict global temperatures for a couple of decades straight. What good is a model if you have no way of knowing whether it's accurate?

If somebody could create a climate model that would accurately model the past I'd be happy. Say from the time of the settlement of Greenland by the Vikings through the mid 1750s -- the so-called Little Ice Age. I'd feel a lot better about those climate models if they'd just do that.

Monday, November 27, 2006

What will our erstwhile Veep say?

This headline says it all:

Hurricane Predictions Off Track As Tranquil Season Wafts Away

...and here's the story. I think I'll turn on all the lights in the house, turn up the thermostat to 75, throw the next milk jug into the regular garbage, spray a little extra aerosol into the air, make a big fire in both fireplaces, and, for good measure, light a big pile of charcoal in the Weber. Maybe all of that will help make Mr. Gore's predictions of a devastating hurricane season come true. Clearly global warming didn't do it this season. Then when the Neenah library gets a copy of "An Inconvenient Truth" I'll borrow it. (Buy it? Are you nuts?) I'll settle back to watch it and smile and smile.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

I love stories like this, LXXVII

Right in my own backyard, too! Fond du Lac is only (quick check of Google Maps) about 35 miles south of here. Concerned Parents Confront School Board Over Book by Maya Angelou:
Fond du Lac parents want controversial book out of class

Angelou account of rape stirs objections

The Associated Press

FOND DU LAC — Some Fond du Lac parents have asked school officials to remove former U.S. poet laureate Maya Angelou's autobiography from the high school curriculum.

Students at Fond du Lac High School read "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings" in sophomore advanced English classes.

But some parents have objected to passages that describe Angelou's rape and subsequent unwanted pregnancy. About 80 people attended a meeting Tuesday at the school this week to discuss the book and the request to remove it.

School Superintendent Gregory Maass said the initial complaint came from one family. "We had a mother and father and student who questioned the book," he said. "The high school provided the student with an alternative book."

The parents were not satisfied and asked for the book to be removed from the curriculum, Maass said.

Fond du Lac High School Principal Mary Fran Merwin said parents, teachers, principals and at least two ministers spoke at the meeting, where no decision was made. She said the school has used the book for a decade.

"It is Angelou's own account of growing up," Merwin said. "It has a number of attributes, and it's a historically relevant story about a black woman growing up in the United States."

School board president Gary Sharpe said the request was the first to remove a book in his eight years on the board. A school committee will make a decision on the book, and if parents remain unhappy, they can appeal to the superintendent and school board, he said.

Well, a good old-fashioned book-banning! But in classic, reserved Wisconsin style.

The question, as always, with Government-Funded Compulsory Matriculation Centers is this: if parents are unhappy with the curriculum at the GFCMC's, where can they turn without additional financial hardship?

Friday, November 24, 2006

Recent commentary: Time's Person of the Year

Who should be Time magazine's Person of the Year?

(published 27-Nov-2006, Appleton Post-Crescent)

Adolph Hitler was Time's "Man of the Year" in 1938. Joseph Stalin was MotY twice. Brrrr! Time has recognized multiple people half a dozen times including last year. (Remember the unlikely duo of Bill Clinton and Kenneth Starr in 1998?) How about a multi-maniac award? I nominate Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and North Korean leader Kim Jong Il. Both of these worthies have bulled their way onto the international stage by making nuclear threats. In my humble yet deadly accurate opinion, nuclear diplomacy hasn't advanced much beyond the _____ or go blind stage. Thus, both leaders are betting that a nuclear first-strike by us is not in the offing. So both of them threaten their neighbors -- and us -- at every opportunity. An H-bomb kinda focuses one's attention, don't you think? Maybe Kim will get something more than a basketball signed by Michael Jordan in the next round of bribes.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Now this is cool

One can be forgiven for suspecting that this story is about another form of cold fusion, but no! A 17-year-old high school student has actually built a device that fuses deuterium atoms. He is the 18th amateur scientist in the world to create nuclear fusion:
Pointing to the steel chamber where all the magic happens, Thiago Olson said on Friday that this piece of the puzzle serves as a vacuum. The air is sucked out and into a filter.

Then, deuterium gas -- a form of hydrogen -- is injected into the vacuum. About 40,000 volts of electricity are charged into the chamber from a piece of equipment taken from an old mammogram machine. As the machine runs, the atoms in the chamber are attracted to the center and soon -- ta da -- nuclear fusion.

Thiago said when that happens, a small intense ball of energy forms.

He first achieved fusion in September and has been perfecting the machine he built in his parents' garage ever since.

This year, Thiago was a semifinalist for the Siemens Foundation's National Research Competition. He plans to enter the Science and Engineering Fair of Metropolitan Detroit, which is in March, in hopes of qualifying to be in the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair in New Mexico in May.

I just think this is marvelous. I'm eager to see the "October Sky"-type movie about this.

Monday, November 20, 2006

It isn't possible to parody this

This CBS/AP story out of, where else?, San Francisco, tells of a new method for yearning for global peace:
Two peace activists have planned a massive anti-war demonstration for the first day of winter. But they don't want you marching in the streets. They'd much rather you just stay home.

The Global Orgasm for Peace was conceived by Donna Sheehan, 76, and Paul Reffell, 55, whose immodest goal is for everyone in the world to have an orgasm Dec. 22 while focusing on world peace.

"The orgasm gives out an incredible feeling of peace during it and after it," Reffell said Sunday. "Your mind is like a blank. It's like a meditative state. And mass meditations have been shown to make a change."

The couple are no strangers to sex and social activism. Sheehan, no relation to anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan, brought together nearly 50 women in 2002 who stripped naked and spelled out the word "Peace."

The stunt spawned a mini-movement called Baring Witness that led to similar unclothed demonstrations worldwide.

The couple have studied evolutionary psychology and believe that war is mainly an outgrowth of men trying to impress potential mates, a case of "my missile is bigger than your missile," as Reffell put it.

By promoting what they hope to be a synchronized global orgasm, they hope to get people to channel their sexual energy into something more positive.

The couple said interest appears strong, with 26,000 hits a day to their Web site,

"The dream is to have everyone in the world (take part)," Reffell said. "And if that means laying down your gun for a few minutes, then hey, all the better."

Oh, all right! Some of this can be parodied, but it's too easy!

For instance, "mass meditations have been shown to make a change". Yes, grass grows 0.0426% faster during mass meditations.

Or how about "By promoting what they hope to be a synchronized global orgasm, they hope to get people to channel their sexual energy into something more positive." Because otherwise global warming would skyrocket from all of those cigarettes being lit two minutes after the global O!

I suppose the logic behind this is the same as that used by professional football coaches when they enforce curfew before the big game: sexual release decreases drive and agression, right? I just don't see the U. S. military commanders in Iraq buying into this, you know? I'm sure they could get all military personnel to co-ordinate schedules and bring off a divisional O like clockwork ... but, I'll tell you what, them insurgents ain't a gonna lie down on the job and let an opportunity slip away to hit the pig satan devil Americans with their pants down, eh?

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Downsize DC on the passing of Milton Friedman

The man who most defined free-market economics in the United States, Milton Friedman, has died. This obituary was published today by

D o w n s i z e r - D i s p a t c h

Milton Friedman, RIP

by Jim Babka

For those who have not yet heard the news, Nobel Prize winning economist Milton Friedman has died. He was 94.

In many ways, Milton Friedman is an inspiration to us at Downsize DC. Perhaps you could even say he was an original DC Downsizer, of sorts.

Friedman was a great American and was considered by most to be the leading proponent for free market theory, and is the key figure in the "Chicago School theory" of economics.

The New York Times has written, "Mr. Friedman advocated legalizing drugs and generally opposed public education and the state’s power to license doctors, automobile drivers and others. He was criticized for those views, but he stood by them, arguing that prohibiting, regulating or licensing human behavior either does not work or creates inefficient bureaucracies."

He even had tremendous influence in the Republican Party -- at least for a spell. As Jacob Sullum wrote for Reason, "He has played a leading role in eliminating the draft, discrediting wage and price controls, and popularizing reforms, such as ... private retirement accounts, that shrink the realm of politics and broaden the domain of individual choice."

Friedman had much to say and write about the Great Depression. He blamed it on the Federal Reserve Bank. In his memoir he concluded, "The Fed was largely responsible for converting what might have been a garden-variety recession, although perhaps a fairly severe one, into a major catastrophe. Instead of using its powers to offset the depression, it presided over a decline in the quantity of money by one-third from 1929 to 1933 ... Far from the depression being a failure of the free-enterprise system, it was a tragic failure of government." On Friedman's 90th birthday, no less a figure than current Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke responded, "Regarding the Great Depression. You're right, we did it. We're very sorry."

Friedman also played a role in what he termed the Miracle of Chile. Military dictator Augusto Pinochet, for all his unforgivable flaws, rescued the people of Chile from the hideous and destructive impact of Marxist President Allende, by allowing the "Chicago Boys" -- a group of economists influenced by Friedman and his Chicago School colleagues -- to help set economic policy in the country. Friedman himself gave a lecture in Chile during that time period.

And what advice did the Chicago Boys give? Wikipedia reports, "They abolished the minimum wage, rescinded trade union rights, privatized the pension system, state industries, and banks, and abolished taxes on wealth and profits. Pinochet justified such reforms by promising to 'make Chile not a nation of proletarians, but a nation of entrepreneurs.' "

The "miracle," according to Friedman, was that a military dictatorship would adopt such policies. Friedman was proud of the result even though vindication wouldn't even begin to arrive for more than 15 years. He believed that sound economic policy would lead to political liberation and prosperity. Chile became a democracy in 1990. Chile's economy has outgrown those of its Latin American neighbors, and the 1990s saw a boom.

It took time, but Friedman was proven right.

But Friedman wasn't perfect.

He disrespected gold as a storehouse of value and endorsed the use of a central bank issuing paper money. He clung to the modern notion that a government can manage money properly. His theories had great influence over past Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan and current Fed Chair Bernanke. The cycle of boom and bust continues. The dollar is a shadow of its former self.

Friedman was also responsible for one of the worst Big Government innovations of the 20th century: income tax withholding. Friedman worked for the Treasury Department during World War II. He defended withholding as a short-term tool to help the government build the credit it needed to fight the war. Previously, only the well-off paid the tax with a check written every March 15.

Friedman's withholding plan was supposed to be temporary. Obviously, it wasn't.

And one would have little difficulty arguing that, more than any other policy, withholding made it possible for the income tax to become both widely accepted and widespread.

It took only 20 or so years for the income tax to become the primary tool of social engineering. And only the issuance of currency (as determined by the Federal Reserve) exceeds the income tax as a tool for financing the seemingly unlimited growth of government. End the income tax and return to a gold standard and the burden of government would shrink dramatically.

Withholding shielded us from the true cost of government. It helped democracy along to its worst excess: the belief that we could appropriate the wallets and earnings of others. And amazingly, we all know some dolt who thinks they're getting free money from the government after they file their returns. Previous to withholding, very, very few Americans thought that way.

Friedman and his wife Rose have devoted their final years, as well as their legacy and their estate to promoting school choice. Every parent should have a choice. States shouldn't be able to indoctrinate children and fail them in their education, while squandering so much money. This is a noble project and a fine instinct.

Unfortunately, like withholding and the Federal Reserve, Friedman believed that government will have to finance this change. Over the years Friedman has been approached by friends and admirers, reminding him that the piper calls the tune and he who has the gold rules. If government finances schools, government will run schools by regulation -- even if they're called "private." Friedman was never deterred.

But a tremendous American has died today. His contributions to economics and public policy have touched all of our lives, whether we realize it or not. His legacy is a positive one.

But his legacy should also include his words. Friedman was, after all, a teacher at heart. Perhaps that's why he cared so much about the issue of education.

As Jacob Sullum also reported, Friedman once said "the war on drugs and the harm which it does are simply manifestations of a much broader problem: the substitution of political mechanisms for market mechanisms in a wide variety of areas ... the problem is not the kind of people who run our governmental institutions versus those who run our private institutions. The trouble, as the Marxists used to say, is in the system."

Friedman wanted everyone to understand that the ability to spend other people's money at will means that government programs do not face the discipline that private businesses do. "When a private enterprise fails, it is closed down," he noted. "When a government enterprise fails, it is expanded."

Now that's a Downsize DC concept!

Jim Babka is the President of the Downsize DC Foundation and, Inc. He hosts a weekly radio show on the Genesis Communications Network and is a commentator for the Free Market News Network.

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Monday, November 13, 2006

If Condi won't run, how about Rudy?

Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani has formed an exploratory committee to investigate the possibility of the notion that he might consider looking at maybe testing the waters for the right combination of factors that would tend to support the suggestion that he would likely be in favor of making a run for the Presidency in 2008:
Under federal election law, an exploratory committee allows an individual to travel and gauge the level of support for a candidacy without formally declaring themselves a candidate and adhering to all the federal rules of fundraising. An individual who spends money only to test the waters - but not to campaign for office - does not have to register as a candidate under the election law.

So it ain't in the bag yet, but we can hope. Hey! Maybe Condi could be his Vice President!

I love stories like this, LXXVI

What is the "mission of public education"? This is a question that needs to be answered by the San Francisco school board. The board will consider dropping the 90-year-old Junior ROTC program at seven San Francisco high schools next year:
Ray Smith, an Army Vietnam War veteran who runs the JROTC program at Mission High School, said that he and other former soldiers believe that the military cannot abandon the mission in Iraq.

"Rumsfeld never should have been in charge, but now we can either run like cowards or we can stay until we get the job done," Smith said. "Even though it was a bad idea in the first place, we have to try to get back our credibility in the world ... all we can do is try."

The other issue troubling Smith was the strong possibility that the San Francisco school board will decide Tuesday to discontinue the JROTC program at Mission High and six other San Francisco high schools at the end of the school year.

A majority of board members say the benefits of the 90-year-old program are not worth the association with the U.S. military, an institution they consider discriminatory, homophobic and at odds with the mission of public education.

The only indictments missing from that litany are that the military is anti-multicultural and ignores the plight of endangered species. I guess teaching the concepts of duty, loyalty, honor, love of country, teamwork, personal responsibility, and self-respect is just outré and passé, as the French say.

As usual, James Taranto of Best of the Web Today has an acerbic comment:
When John Kerry suggested that U.S. servicemen were uneducated losers, he was not just speaking for himself.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

I love stories like this, LXXV

The parents of Laguna Beach High School students are complaining that the MTV reality TV show, "Laguna Beach: The Real Orange County", portrays their kids as "rich brats" and opens the door to all sorts of sexual predators ... and they want the school board to do something about it!
On election eve when much of the country was transfixed by the nation's political races, a hastily assembled panel of school board candidates sat uneasily on stage at the Laguna Beach Women's Club.

Facing them was an audience of parents looking for answers. Not answers about academic standards, curriculum or school funding, but answers on where candidates stood on something far more divisive: MTV.

One after another, the candidates savaged the television network and its gauzy reality show "Laguna Beach: The Real Orange County," blaming it for everything from presenting local youths as rich brats to making the city a potential target for sex predators.

Laguna Beach High School, where many of the students on the series attend class, recently ranked No. 1 for alcohol and drug abuse in Orange County, according to the California Healthy Kids Survey.


"It seems obvious to me that this ranking is the direct result of the image MTV has set for some of our kids," said candidate Jeff Elghanayan.

Some don't seem to mind the MTV show:
"When it was so hot this summer and people asked why, I said, 'It must be MTV.' That's how ridiculous it has become," said Candace Hurley, whose two sons have appeared on "Laguna Beach." "People now blame MTV for everything. They blame the crowds on MTV. It's not like there are bands of kids coming in. It's families taking photos in front of the Laguna Beach High School sign. Why is that such a negative?"

Hurley said disdain for MTV was approaching hysteria.

"I painted my house this summer and the rumor in the neighborhood was that MTV sent a stylist to pick out the colors. Some parents have called me a bad mother and no longer speak to me," she said. "Anywhere else, people seem to think of it as a show about high school kids for high school kids."

Her son Kelan became a cast member to promote his band. He now has a record contract with Sony, she said. "My son set out to not embarrass our family and show off his band," she said. "We feel lucky the show did what we hoped for."

Jim Conrad's daughter Lauren starred in the first season and later got her own spin-off series, "The Hills." His younger daughter, Breanna, is a cast member of this season's "Laguna Beach."

He said the school board's decision to bar MTV from the high school campus backfired.

"We wanted them to show school activities and present our kids in the best light. So without that, what is left? Parties, going out," he said. "I would say 80% of people here couldn't care less. They don't watch the show, they don't like it or hate it. I'm no rah-rah cheerleader for MTV, but it hasn't ruined our town."

Fine articles on TCS Daily

Haven't posted much here lately. On November 1st, I was elected by the Neenah City Council members to fill out the term of the late Kip Kitzerow. I won from among a field of seven worthy candidates, and I mean that sincerely. I told one of them, an Air National Guard member and student at UW-Oshkosh earning four bachelor's degrees that he'd be President some day.

I've still managed to get in a bit of reading besides Council minutes. There are two articles in particular from TCS Daily, formerly known as The first is on one of my favorite topics, anthro-centric global warming:
The Stern Review is out and now that people have had a couple of days to digest the 600 or so pages of heavy verbiage and math, we're starting to see some commentary on how well it's been done. Leave aside the screaming newspaper headlines that shout that we all drowned yesterday and will boil tomorrow and the general reaction from those who know the subject is 'Hunh?'

The author of the TCS Daily piece, Tim Worstall, quotes and comments on an evaluation of the accuracy of the Stern Review by a man named William Connelly who is one of those johnnies who create mathematical global warming models. Mr. Connelly starts with a quote from the Review:
"If the Greenland or West Antarctic Ice Sheets began to melt irreversibly, the rate of sea level rise could more than double, committing the world to an eventual sea level rise of 5 - 12 m over several centuries." Errrm... centuries? Current SRL is 2-3 mm/yr, ie 20-30 cm/century. Double that to 40-60 and you're a fair few centuries into the future before you hit 5m, let alone 12. SRL is the "great white hope" of impacts, since its unequivocally bad (at least I've never seen anyone assert it to be a good). 5m is SRL in a millennium might well cause problems, true, but I'm not really happy looking that far ahead - tech could do anything by then.

Even climate researchers aren't all that impressed with trying to predict out that far into the future. As an analogy, think back into history. Should the Northern Europeans not have started to use the horse collar, thus allowing them to plough the heavy soils, because 1,000 years later there's so many of us that CO2 levels are rising?

As you can see people aren't arguing about what should be done if the Review's predictions are correct. They're actually arguing about whether the Review is correct or not which is really a much larger problem for its supporters. Because I really don't think that the Review is indeed correct, either in its predictions for future temperature rises nor in the logic that it uses to urge us into mitigating actions.

My kind of guy!

The second takes an interesting look at the verdict in the trial of former Iraqi dictator, Saddam Hussein. The author, Austin Bay, is a retired colonel in the Army Reserve who served on active duty in Iraq in 2004. He compares what is happening in Iraq to the U. S. military occupations of Germany and Japan and how they differ from post-war Russia:
Contemporary Russia still suffers from the long-term effects of Stalin's evil depredations. Unlike Germany and Japan, two other nations once run by mass-murdering cliques, Russia didn't benefit from a postwar American military occupation. Check the empirical record: Those history-breaking American endeavors demonstrably hasten a country's rise from the hell of sociopathic tyranny.

And now the "hell of sociopathic tyranny" in Iraq is on display in Iraq's courts, and Saddam Hussein has been sentenced to hang:
A history-breaking, tyranny-shattering event -- but few in the sensationalist media have noticed it. Since the verdict, we've already heard a few talking heads sob about "Saddam as victim" and the court exacting "victors' vengeance." Though Iraqis ran the trial, the "Western judicial imperialism" charge is circulating among the usual media and academia suspects.

But this grand story is about belated justice, a justice once thought impossible to reach by the Iraqi people, who were Saddam's real victims. It's also about the slow, difficult birth of a democratic society in a region caught in the terrible ying-yang of tyrants and terrorists -- a nation moving from the whim of the Big Man and the fear of terrorist bombs to the rule of law and democratic polity.

I know, The New York Times and John Kerry have told us Iraq is a disaster. Not true. There's a democratically elected government in the potentially most powerful (predominantly) Arab Muslim nation, a government trying to learn to govern and administer under the most trying conditions. It's a government that is learning by doing -- and learning often by failure. However, as long as the United States and coalition remain around to coach, train and respond to crises, Iraqi failures will be controlled failures.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

WIth all the election noise, there's this

Big, bad Dan Rather still thinks the George Bush National Guard service story he broadcast in '04 is "true":
Rather narrated the September 2004 report, which alleged that President Bush skirted some of his duties during his National Guard service and that a commander felt pressured to sugarcoat Bush's record.

"The story was true," Rather, 75, told radio station WPTF-AM on Tuesday. "We were vulnerable on taking responsibility for it."

Can't quite figure out what he means by "We were vulnerable on taking responsibility for it." Does he think that he and CBS should not have been questioned on it? Or that he wasn't really responsible for the story airing that fateful fall Wednesday? His statement / excuse is semantically null.

Of course he isn't null when it comes to those nifty documents he found:
Pressed further on the authenticity of the report, Rather lashed out at radio host Donna Martinez, saying she had a political agenda.

Oh, dear! It just isn't right that people should question him about those document things. "We were vulnerable", all right! They were fake as hell!

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Stuk n Irak

A photo worth preserving: Vice President, Dick Cheney, signs a poster bearing the famous photo of the National Guard unit that protested Senator John Kerry's recent remarks about how young people should watch out or else they'll be sent to Iraq.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Anthro-centric global scare-mongering, XVI

He "sold his soul to the devil to get (global warming) research funding." There's hardly a more devastating charge that one weather scientist can level at another, is there? But that's exactly what Colorado State University's William Gray had to say about Boulder, CO, climate researcher Kevin Trenberth.

Why all the hubbub? Well, that's what goes on these days at normally polite scientific conferences. The 31st annual Climate Diagnostics & Prediction Workshop is no different:
The planet may be warming, but what started out as a polite discussion about hurricane trends turned plain hot here Wednesday.

At issue was the role - if any - that global warming plays in fueling monster storms.

But illustrating the volatile nature of the debate, the scientific conference descended into name calling.

Colorado State University's William Gray, one of the nation's preeminent hurricane forecasters, called noted Boulder climate researcher Kevin Trenberth an opportunist and a Svengali who "sold his soul to the devil to get (global warming) research funding."

Trenberth countered that Gray is not a credible scientist.

"Not any more. He was at one time, but he's not any more," Trenberth said of Gray, one of a handful of prominent U.S. scientists who question whether humans play a significant role in warming the planet by burning fossil fuels that release heat-trapping gases.

"He's one of the contrarians, some of whom get money to spread lies about global warming," Trenberth said during a break following his presentation at the 31st annual Climate Diagnostics & Prediction Workshop. About 150 scientists from more than 10 countries are attending the weeklong meeting.

Trenberth and Gray traded barbs during Trenberth's presentation to the group.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Anthro-centric global scare-mongering, XV

And here I thought this was just going to be another boring column about how the Dems may be a little too cocky about the Nov. 7th elections...

Little did I know that in paragraph two would come the knockout punch for the Democrat party: no hurricanes!
The more fatalistic among [Democrats] point out that in the year since the Katrina disaster the US has received many warnings about other hurricanes heading towards it. All of these, without exception, have fizzled out into nothing more severe than storms.

Lets examine that amazing statement a bit, shall we? I've reminded you that, since the end of September, there hasn't been a single named tropical storm in the North Atlantic. There have been only nine storms this whole hurricane season when, if the global warmists were to be believed, we should have had a tsunami's worth of hurricanes this year. Granted, the global warmists who predicted huge and devastating hurricanes from now on were decidedly leftist.

But now the Times of London says that some Democrats fear that this year's non-disastrous hurricane season will be bad for Democrats at the ballot box next month! Need I say more?

What else is in this article. Oh, yes! This choice quote from Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee executive director, Karin Johanson:
“The Republicans have convinced everyone, not least themselves, that the reason they did so well in 2004 was because of their turnout operation,” she said. “They think they’re smarter than us, and, the truth is, some of us think they’re smarter than us.”

Talk about demoralization, depression, and despondency! And this:
But Charles Schumer, the campaign chief of the Senate Democrats, said that in his party’s best-case scenario it would ride “a huge tsunami” on election day, winning eight seats, including even the seemingly untouchable Arizona.

Democrats have become so used to losing that most feel deeply uncomfortable about any such display of bravado. Ms Johanson said: “I worry — I'm paid to worry.”

The hurricane season is coming to an end. Instead, families are preparing for Halloween tomorrow night. And the Democrats are spooked.

Trite tag line, but cute. I can just see the post-election interviews with the lady-on-the-street:
New York Times: Ma'am, what party did you vote for and why?

Lady in the street: Oh, Republican, definitely. There weren't any hurricanes this year. Not one! We've got George W. Bush to thank for that!

Monday, October 30, 2006

I love stories like this, LXXIV

"Some of these kids were so scared, they just about wet their pants." That's what the parent of four children in the Godfrey-Lee School District said about the "realistic" school safety drill conducted last Thursday at Lee Middle and High School in Wyoming, MI:
A school safety drill that included police officers in riot gear with weapons has caused concern among some parents who say it was too realistic and frightened some students.

Police in the western Michigan community of Wyoming entered two classrooms at Lee Middle and High School on Thursday and announced there was a threat to the school, The Grand Rapids Press reported.

Students, who were unaware police were conducting a drill, were taken from the classroom into the halls, patted down by officers and asked what they had in their pockets, the newspaper said.

"Some of these kids were so scared, they just about wet their pants," said Marge Bradshaw, a parent with four children in Godfrey-Lee Schools. "I think it's pure wrong that the students and parents were not informed of this."

Officers wore protective gear, including vests and helmets, and carried rifles that were unloaded and marked with colored tape to indicate they were not live weapons, the newspaper said.

Diana Silva, a parent of an eighth-grade student, said the drill went too far.

"My child was with his face to the wall in the hallway of the high school," Silva said. "I certainly don't want anything like this happening to my child."

Principal David Britten said students weren't told ahead of time to make the drill as realistic as possible. Teachers were informed moments before it took place, he said.

"I think this is the best way to do it," Britten said. "We're not looking to scare anyone, but we want a sense of urgency."

But Wyoming Police Chief James Carmody said his officers were not aware students and parents were not told. He said his department will mandate that parents be notified ahead of time in the future.

"The purpose was to show how we will evacuate the classroom, not to assault the classroom," Carmody said.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Gosh! I wonder what happened?

Do you know that it's been over a month since the last tropical storm (Hurricane Isaac) formed over the Atlantic ocean? My word! I was sure that Florida would be scraped off the map and New Orleans would submerge completely because of an incredible hurricane season this year. After all, weren't we told that last year's hurricanes were only a taste of things to come?

Boy! With all of those scientists, celebrities (including Barbra Streisand and Leonardo DiCaprio), and politicians (including erstwhile Vice President Gore and Rep. Robert Kennedy) making such categorical, unequivocal claims about the increase in the intensity and destructive power of hurricanes ... why, it must come as quite a shock when their predictions simply don't come true!

Golly! There've only been 9 named Atlantic storms this season with only a little over a month to go. That puts 2006 squarely on the curve of an average storm season. And even if another storm were to form in November, that would still make for fewer storms than even the lowest of the National Hurricane Center predictions.

Maybe the global warmists can turn their attention, with heads held high and beliefs unshaken, to the upcoming winter storm season.

I normally wouldn't give two figs...

...but this was a bit more over-the-top than the usual. According to The Daily Mail:
Americans snub invitation to pay $500,000 for Clinton birthday party

By SHARON CHURCHER, Mail on Sunday
Last updated at 22:00pm on 28th October 2006

When America's liberal elite were offered the chance to pay up to $500,000 each (about £260,000) to attend Bill Clinton's 60th birthday extravaganza tonight - with the added promise of a private Rolling Stones concert - a packed house was expected.

Wife Hillary and daughter Chelsea sent out about 10,000 invitations to Hollywood tycoons, movie stars, captains of industry and Wall Street - with all proceeds to go to the former President's charitable foundation.

Those who pledged the top price were promised the 'Birthday Chair Package', with the best seating for the concert as well as a chance to have photographs taken with Mr Clinton during a round of golf and a three-day series of cocktail, brunch and dinner parties.

The minimum price, with inferior concert seats and no brunch, was set at $60,000 (£31,000). But with many rich Democrats sending their regrets, The Mail on Sunday can reveal that last Wednesday the Clintons drastically slashed prices to $12,500 (£6,500) for one reception and the concert, or $5,000 (£2,600) for just the Stones.

With the looming possibility of Bill and his long-suffering wife and daughter finding themselves amid a sea of empty chairs at the 2,900-seat Manhattan venue, tickets then went on sale to the public for as little as $1,710 (£900).

And there is a danger that the Clintons' plans may end in a total fiasco, after the Stones cancelled Friday's show in Atlantic City when Mick Jagger complained of a sore throat and was ordered to rest by a doctor.

So this isn't a political fund-raiser. Perhaps that's where their mistake was made. If this had been a party and concert to support Democrat candidates for national office, I think the house would have been packed. As it is, since it's only for charity...

I was sympathetic to one of the people that left a comment ("Hc Pitts" of Tallahassee, FL):
Please just make these people go away!