Saturday, January 30, 2010

Climate lies keep on coming

From this article:
The chairman of the leading climate change watchdog was informed that claims about melting Himalayan glaciers were false before the Copenhagen summit, The Times has learnt.

Rajendra Pachauri was told that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change assessment that the glaciers would disappear by 2035 was wrong, but he waited two months to correct it. He failed to act despite learning that the claim had been refuted by several leading glaciologists.

The IPCC’s report underpinned the proposals at Copenhagen for drastic cuts in global emissions.

Dr Pachauri, who played a leading role at the summit, corrected the error last week after coming under media pressure.
The lies are no surprise given the recently leaked e-mails about deception. One of my favorite quotations from these hoaxers comes from Christine Stewart, Canada's former environment minister: "Climate change provides the greatest chance to bring about justice and equality in the world." On another occasion, she said, "No matter if the science is all phony, there is still collateral environmental benefits to global warming policies." (emphasis mine)

New York Times: Same-sex marriage doesn't involve fidelity

The New York Times is reporting that same-sex marriage would redefine marriage for society, and not just with regard to who can marry whom. Many same-gender couples are tossing out the basic principles that American society sees as the whole point of marriage.

The story is here.
When Rio and Ray married in 2008, the Bay Area women omitted two words from their wedding vows: fidelity and monogamy.

“I take it as a gift that someone will be that open and honest and sharing with me,” said Rio, using the word “open” to describe their marriage.

Love brought the middle-age couple together — they wed during California’s brief legal window for same-sex marriage. But they knew from the beginning that their bond would be forged on their own terms, including what they call “play” with other women.

As the trial phase of the constitutional battle to overturn the Proposition 8 ban on same-sex marriage concludes in federal court, gay nuptials are portrayed by opponents as an effort to rewrite the traditional rules of matrimony. Quietly, outside of the news media and courtroom spotlight, many gay couples are doing just that, according to groundbreaking new research.

A study to be released next month is offering a rare glimpse inside gay relationships and reveals that monogamy is not a central feature for many. Some gay men and lesbians argue that, as a result, they have stronger, longer-lasting and more honest relationships. And while that may sound counterintuitive, some experts say boundary-challenging gay relationships represent an evolution in marriage — one that might point the way for the survival of the institution.

New research at San Francisco State University reveals just how common open relationships are among gay men and lesbians in the Bay Area. The Gay Couples Study has followed 556 male couples for three years — about 50 percent of those surveyed have sex outside their relationships, with the knowledge and approval of their partners.

That consent is key. “With straight people, it’s called affairs or cheating,” said Colleen Hoff, the study’s principal investigator, “but with gay people it does not have such negative connotations.”

In short, same-sex marriage doesn't fit the definition of traditional marriage, in which devoted monogamy is supposed to be key. While many heterosexual marriages don't live up to that standard, that doesn't mean we're ready to redefine the institution, even if the New York Times thinks that open marriage is an evolution of the institution that may be important to its survival. That's not their decision to make. Of 31 states that have voted on same-sex marriage, 31 have voted against it (source here as part of a related story). It should be clear that Americans aren't interested in giving up on monogamy as a standard in marriage.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Still making Bush look smart

Okay, the prompters the other day were for talking with the media.

But, who brings teleprompters to a committee meeting?!?

Which banks is Obama going after?

Thank you, Heritage Foundation. They point out today that the tax the administration wants to levy on banks to "recover" funds ignores the companies the administration favors:

Read the whole release for details. Though the chart does the heavy lifting.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Body scanners don't work

This video has been going around quite a bit. It's a clip from German TV that shows a physicist attempting to get contraband through a backscatter x-ray machine (the type being touted as a response to the underwear bomber). It's the first demonstration I've seen of the technology. Other images I've found have been mockups suggesting what might be seen.

The problems here are numerous. Bomb components weren't found, and a body cavity (in the video the man uses his mouth, but it's not the only *ahem* cavity bodies have) can hide anything.

Simple lesson: these body scanners are intrusive, expensive, and wouldn't have solved the problem.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Promises, Promises

I actually posted this video as part of another post, but it deserves its own post. Obama's first year in office has been a topic of discussion lately, so let's have a look.

This video should either amuse you if you knew these were lies from the beginning, or upset you and give you buyer's remorse if you believed he'd carry through.

Even very Obama Administration-friendly sites are admitting to some pretty big promises broken. Politifact, where's the one about not having lobbyists in his administration?

Other sites are less forgiving, like World Net Daily, who seem to have noticed the same video I have, and document additional broken promises. There's even a blog devoted to his lies, gaffes, broken promises and exaggerations.

We've become used to politicians lying to us, which is unfortunate, and it's something we really shouldn't accept. President Obama's lies seem especially egregious because he promised he'd be different. He promised hope and change meant something. As others have pointed out, "change" seems to mean "Big Government." Unfortunately, the Republicans had already made that happen under George Bush, so I suppose it just means "Really Big Government Growing at Unprecedented Rates." The other factor making these lies feel especially bad to the American people is that a lot of them were ones that really mattered to us as a people, and especially his supporters, like being open and honest and communicative. Giving pretty speeches over and over again just isn't a fulfillment of that promise. It's not the interaction supporters expected. Permitting lobbyists and other special interests, especially Unions, not only be part of his administration but seem to have a controlling stake in his decision-making has also disappointed many supporters.

Looking forward to 2010 and then 2012, it's vital that voters send the message that promises made by politicians do matter, and there are some critical promises we won't see broken without consequence.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Obama finally does something Bush couldn't do

He made Bush look smart, when he brought his teleprompters to speak to 6th graders.

Amazing, isn't it?

UPDATE: The prompters were for the talk with the media. When he talked with the kids, it was behind closed doors. Score one for transparency.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Burning Desperately Needed Food

One of the most pressing issues in the world is hunger. I can't recall a time when there wasn't pressing human need for food, and often liberals are at the front of the crowd calling for the U.S. to help with the problem. Strangely, those same people are calling for increases in the use of grain ethanol to power cars.

We've known biomass ethanol is largely a bad idea for many years. From the linked article:
In terms of energy output compared with energy input for ethanol production, the study found that:

* corn requires 29 percent more fossil energy than the fuel produced;
* switch grass requires 45 percent more fossil energy than the fuel produced; and
* wood biomass requires 57 percent more fossil energy than the fuel produced.

In terms of energy output compared with the energy input for biodiesel production, the study found that:

* soybean plants requires 27 percent more fossil energy than the fuel produced, and
* sunflower plants requires 118 percent more fossil energy than the fuel produced.

Not only that, but since ethanol produces less energy per unit burned than fossil fuels, you're burning more of it to go the same distance. If you believe that anthropogenically-produced carbon dioxide in our atmosphere is a problem, then you'll recognize the significance of that: burning ethanol dumps more CO2 into the air than burning gasoline does to produce the same result.

Clearly, producing ethanol from crops is a bad idea from an efficient energy use perspective. It's not any better from the human needs perspective. From the linked article:

One-quarter of all the maize and other grain crops grown in the US now ends up as biofuel in cars rather than being used to feed people, according to new analysis which suggests that the biofuel revolution launched by former President George Bush in 2007 is impacting on world food supplies.

"The grain grown to produce fuel in the US [in 2009] was enough to feed 330 million people for one year at average world consumption levels," said Lester Brown, the director of the Earth Policy Institute, a Washington thinktank ithat conducted the analysis.

The US is by far the world's leading grain exporter, exporting more than Argentina, Australia, Canada, and Russia combined. In 2008, the UN called for a comprehensive review of biofuel production from food crops.

"There is a direct link between biofuels and food prices. The needs of the hungry must come before the needs of cars," said Meredith Alexander, biofuels campaigner at ActionAid in London.
Quite literally, biofuel mandates in the U.S. are starving people to death by not only directly depriving the world of grain exports, but also by raising the price of food so the poorest nations can't afford basic sustenance. It's not very "progressive" to continue these policies, nor is it good for the environment or even your car's engine. We need to abandon ludicrous feel-good policies that kill people and implement real energy solutions.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

What does Massachusetts mean?

Just about everyone has some commentary on what Rep. Scott Brown's victory over Dem. Martha Coakley for the "Ted Kennedy" Senate seat in Democrat-dominated Massachusetts means. As a side note, Mr. Brown correctly pointed out it's the people's seat, not Ted Kennedy's, which was very well received by voters. Video available below.

The core issue seems to be the current health care bill, which is opposed by 58% of Americans. Mr. Brown promised unequivocally not to pass the bill in its current form. He won. Now many progressives are insisting that means the people want health care reform more quickly. In an interview with Howard Dean, Chris Matthews, usually a very left-leaning commentator, points out flaws in that theory. The whole video is worth your time, but part where Mr. Matthews really nails down Mr. Dean is from about 4:55 to 6:15. I've set the start time for you, but you can back the video to the beginning. Howard Dean is very careful about how he refers to his statistics, which seem to be a very specific subset of voters deliberately polled to make the point he wants to believe.

It's hard to argue with Chris Matthews reasoning. What the progressives are trying to assert really just doesn't make any sense. The fact is, the President's approval rating is dropping quite markedly. There are several issues affecting it, but his dogged pursuit of an unpopular health care bill is a large part of it. People are more concerned with the economy. Tangentially, they needn't worry for 2010, since congress will dump the remaining two-thirds of their TARP slush fund on the U.S. just in time to jump their approval ratings for the mid-term elections. We'll be artificially propped up for a few months at least.

Another issue affecting this election was security. Ms. Coakley supported extending full Constitutional rights guaranteed to U.S. citizens. Mr. Brown believes we should treat terrorists as foreign combatants and try them before military tribunals. The American people were polled extensively on these matters with respect to closing the Guantanamo Bay Facility, which we overwhelmingly oppose. Further, 59% of us believe these terrorists should be tried by military tribunals, not in U.S. Courts. Prior polls would indicate that sentiment is growing, not shrinking over time. People seem to recognize that trying terrorists like Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in U.S. Courts is a losing proposition for Americans no matter what the Obama Administration would like to pretend.

Progressives are also trying to downplay the election, saying it's only a relatively small number of voters. As with polling or any other statistical sample, a relatively small number of people can be used to extrapolate an accurate representation of larger groups. National interest in the election, and national support for Mr. Brown would further support that idea.

The outcome of this election is significant and meaningful, and it's a blow to the Progressive agenda. However, those who believe in personal liberty over Statist control can't relax. The price of freedom is constant vigilance. As noted above, when Congress dumps the remaining TARP funds on us, they hope to lull us back to sleep and pass their agenda safe in their seats following November's elections. That simply can't be allowed to happen. We know Congress is too liberal. We can change that with political activism leading up to the elections and voting our beliefs in November. Conservatives still outnumber liberals 2 to 1, and it's time to rebalance Congress to reflect the views of the American voter.

The People's Seat:

Some macabre humor from the Jawa Report on this exchange may be found here.

Post Script: You may have noticed that some of the Democrats seem to be reversing themselves a bit with regard to their positions on the current health care bill. Massachusetts may have frightened them. The SCOTUS ruling Mark wrote about yesterday might have had an impact. Funny what happens when the unbalance of gagging corporations while allowing unions unchecked freedom is corrected. Or they might simply be backing off and pretending to be more moderate so they don't all lose their seats next election. Whatever the reason, don't believe their hastily-donned disguises: they must be ousted from office in the next election.

Friday, January 22, 2010

SCOTUS defends free speech

The ruling yesterday (Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission) struck down significant portions of McCain-Feingold. The provisions that were ruled unconstitutional prohibited corporations from spending money on political speech. Justice Scalia's comment exactly mirrors my own thoughts:
The Amendment is written in terms of “speech,” not speakers. Its text offers no foothold for excluding any category of speakers, from single individuals to partnerships of individuals, to unincorporated associations of individuals, to incorporated associations of individuals…Indeed, to exclude or impede corporate speech is to muzzle the principal agents of the modern free economy. We should celebrate rather than condemn the addition of this speech to the public debate.
It should be noted that while this 5-4 decision is being hailed as a “conservative” victory of sorts, the ACLU's brief agreed that the legislation should be struck down:
The broad prohibition on "electioneering communications" set forth in Section 203 of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002, violates the First Amendment, and the limiting construction adopted by the Court in WRTL is insufficient to save it." Accordingly, the Court should strike down Section 203 as facially unconstitutional and overrule that portion of McConnell that holds otherwise.
The only negative I find in this outcome is that the ruling was only 5-4, but then that was the same with Heller vs. DC. I find it amazing that basic principles of the constitution are hanging on by a single vote in the Supreme Court of the United States.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The Federal Government Beating Martin Luther King Jr.'s dream to death

Yesterday I posted the link to Martin Luther King Jr.'s now famous "I have a dream" speech. I was so heartened to see this story in the paper.

Martin Luther King Jr. would be pleased by how students in Laguna Creek High School's "unity class" embody his dream of "a nation where they will be not judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character."

The 37 students in teacher Jeanne Kirchofer's classroom span nearly every combination of race and ethnicity. About half said they would rather be identified as Americans, erasing race from the boxes. They reflect a trend in California schools, where growing numbers of students and parents decline to state race on forms and tests.

Right on! We're human beings, all brothers and sisters. Division by skin color is artificial, ludicrous, racist and clinging to a misguided past.

Too bad so many people make so much money on division and race-baiting, including massive Federal bureaucracies. They don't like the younger generation's implementation of MLK Jr.'s dream.

But the U.S. Department of Education, which is trying to close the achievement gap between races, is asking school officials to "eyeball" students who decline to state and check a box for them.

"We know and the feds know you can't force someone to fill out a form. So what the feds have actually said is to more strongly encourage them to self-identify," said Keric Ashley, the state Education Department's director of data management. "If all those efforts fail and the parents refuse, the feds say school officials should observe and report a race."

People issuing or trying to follow these instructions should be fired. They're working to maintain racist divisions in humanity for money. It's inexcusable. Any child having trouble achieving should be helped. It's entirely irrelevant what color their skin may be.

Friday, January 15, 2010

California bond rating cut

S&P cut California's bond rating from A to A- this week, and it might go lower:

"If economic or revenue trends substantially falter, we could lower the state rating during the next six to 12 months," S&P said after cutting the rating on $63.9 billion of California's general obligation debt one notch to A- from A.

The new level is four notches above "junk" status, a level at which many investors refuse to buy debt.

Since CA is still papering over its shortfalls with loans and accounting tricks, it means that all that borrowing is now going to cost a lot more.

A simple solution would be to spend less than the state collects in taxes, but what do I know.

Global Warming update: Florida has longest freezing spell ever

From The North Florida Herald:
National Weather Service Meteorologist Jason Hess said that it’s the length of the cold that is most significant.

“This is the longest stretch ever in 100 years of record keeping.”

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Real Security at the Airport (or anywhere)

Shortly after 09/11/2001, people in the U.S. were looking for security answers. We'd been violated by terrorism in a way we couldn't ignore as we had past events. In that search for solutions, what many of us realized was that El Al Airlines hadn't had a terrorist event on a plane in decades. Not since they started using their eyes and common sense.

USA Today actually did an article on it on 10/01/2001. It may be found here.

It includes this now hilarious quotation:
"American security has been sleeping well for years," says Beni Tal, head of a security consulting firm in Tel Aviv, who has worked on government security. "Now they have woken up forever."
Well, not really, Mr. Tal. It just took us a little longer to lapse back into our lazy, self-righteous and self-destructive patterns.

They get to the key factor: "By El Al's standards, my screening was light — only 10 minutes of questioning by two well-paid officials with full military training."

They also point out where American's might have some difficulty.
Despite their current anxieties, Americans also might balk at El Al-style ethnic profiling. Staff scrutinize the passengers' names, dividing them into low-risk (Israeli or foreign Jews), medium-risk (non-Jewish foreigners) and extremely high-risk travelers (anyone with an Arabic name). These people automatically are taken into a room for body and baggage checks and lengthy interrogation. Single women also are considered high-risk, for fear they might be used by Palestinian lovers to carry bombs.
I believe in egalitarianism. I also believe in brutal pragmatism. If it works, you do it. With regard to security, Israel is more interested in security than in preventing offense. If we were really interested in survival, we would do the same. I don't support the profiling of all Arabs. I do support extra screening for all Muslims, as nearly all hijackings have been done by Muslim extremists. It needs to be recognized that they may be of any racial heritage or ethnic background. The unifying factor is their ideology, not their race. The moment we identify additional commonalities between hijackers and terrorists, I support using those to select for secondary screening as well.

El Al doesn't rely on fancy x-ray machines or having you take off your belt or shoes. They do make sensible use of technology, but that's not their line of defense. They shut down terrorism on their aircraft by proper screening by well-trained professionals unafraid to use their eyes, apply common sense and ask questions.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

California's Sea Lions Found

For those following local California news, a large herd of sea lions inexplicably left San Francisco. They've turned up in Oregon.

While many scientists believe it's the "animals have probably migrated in search of food during the winter, although in unusually high numbers," surveys with the sea lions prove that they were fleeing high taxes and over-regulation.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Thomas Sowell on Walter E. Williams

Mark sent me this link. It's an article written by Thomas Sowell commenting on Walter E. Williams. I'm certain it will interest anyone who reads this blog.