Date ►►► January 30, 2010

Another Clue that We've Really Turned that Old Corner...

Hatched by Dafydd

Prosperity is just around the corner. A car in every pot, a chicken in every garage:

The Obama administration is considering several steps that would review the legality of the controversial Bowl Championship Series, the Justice Department said in a letter Friday to a senator who had asked for an antitrust review....

"Importantly, and in addition, the administration also is exploring other options that might be available to address concerns with the college football postseason," [Assistant Attorney General Ronald] Weich wrote, including asking the Federal Trade Commission to review the legality of the BCS under consumer protection laws....

"The administration shares your belief that the current lack of a college football national championship playoff with respect to the highest division of college football ... raises important questions affecting millions of fans, colleges and universities, players and other interested parties," Weich wrote.

Community Organizer in Chief Barack H. Obama, having already solved all the major problems that face our country -- having saved or created hundreds of millions of jobs (National service!), ended the threat of man-caused disaster (diplomacy!), fixed the economy (nationalization!), eliminated all those confusing choices in medical treatment (ObamaCare!), solved the energy crisis (windmills!), and made the Earth cool and the oceans subside (more windmills!) -- is now at leisure to turn his Obamacle eyes to federalizing college football bowl games.

My goodness, but our philosopher king's jug of benevolent despotism just never runs dry, does it?

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, January 30, 2010, at the time of 12:43 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Date ►►► January 28, 2010

Defensive Plaintiffs

Hatched by Dafydd

A "seminar commenter" on a previous post made an extraordinary claim; he wrote:

Tort reform is a non starter, not because Dems have no backbone, but because tort is a very small factor in health care cost issues. Unless you consider 0.01% of total health care costs an issue.

Actually, tort reform is a "non starter" because of the truly staggering level of political donations (mostly to Democrats) lawyers make to candidates who oppose tort reform; as RealClearMarkets reports:

The reason the president and congressional Democrats don't address malpractice is clear. In the 2008 election cycle, lawyers gave $233 million to political candidates: 76% went to Democrats and 23% to Republicans. Politicians know better than to bite the hand that feeds them.

That seems a more likely explanation of Congress' inaction than the explanation offered by the commenter and his trial-lawyer sources, that "tort is a very small factor in health care cost issues."

Defenders of defensive medicine

The commenter appears to get his talking points from trial lawyers (I have no idea whether he personally is one); oddly, however, he gets them wrong.

A very recent release from the American Association for Justice -- which used to call itself the Association of Trial Lawyers of America (ATLA), until they realized how most of us view John Edwards and his cronies -- claims that:

According to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, the total spent defending claims and compensating victims of medical negligence in 2007 was $7.1 billion -- just 0.3% of health care costs.

So even the trial lawyers admit the direct costs of medical-malpractice trials are 30 times what the commenter claims. We can chalk this error up to faulty memory; however, the ATLA itself plays fast and loose with its own figures.

ATLA uses the figure of $2.2 trillion for the size of the health-care industry, comparing the $7.1 billion they claim is the direct cost of malpractice-litigation judgments, settlements, and lawyers' fees. But that total-cost figure includes many areas of health care that don't need malpractice liability insurance; they either need other types of insurance or no insurance at all.

According to a Kaiser Foundation report (source: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, Office of the Actuary, National Health Statistics Group), only 52% of the $2.241 trillion goes to Physician/clinical service (21%) or Hospital care (31%); the rest comprises:

  • Investment
  • Government public health activities
  • Program administration
  • Retail - Rx drugs
  • Retail - Other products [I'm guessing medical devices -- DaH]
  • Home health care
  • Nursing home care
  • Other professional services

This pie-chart illustrates the breakdown:



National Health Expenditures Distribution 2007

National Health Expenditures Distribution 2007

So comparing apples to apples, the direct cost of malpractice judgments, settlements, and attorneys' fees on those entities that are subject to malpractice lawsuits is 0.6%, not 0.3%. That's still a small percent, of course -- but it's only the beginning of the story.

What the trial lawyers dance around (and what the commenter ignores entirely) is that the direct costs of malpractice litigation are but a tiny fraction of the total costs imposed upon the health-care system by the threat of litigation.

What are the missing components in the lawyers' calculations?

  • Skyrocketing malpractice-insurance rates
  • The costs of defensive medicine

Insurance: malpractice aforethought

The monetary cost of the risk of a huge verdict far outweigh the actual awards themselves; a high-risk litigation environment causes insurance companies to jack up their rates -- for the same reason that living on a flood plain or in "tornado alley" jacks up your insurance rates for those disasters.

Doctors pay stunning premiums for malpractice insurance, in some cases more than $200,000 annually for physicians in certain specialties, such as obstetrics or anaesthesiology -- and far more for hospitals -- even for doctors and hospitals with excellent records; see the RealClearMarkets piece linked above.

Virtually every doctor and hospital is guaranteed to be sued several times in his career... no matter how good and careful a doctor he is. This is due not only to shysters like John Edwards pushing bogus cases to force a settlement, but also to the unreasonable expectation of perfection that too many Americans hold about our admittedly wonderful health care: Even when told that a certain procedure carries a certain risk, if that risk becomes a reality, the pressure is on to go ahead and sue anyway. With a sympathetic plaintiff and a runaway jury, who knows how many millions of dollars the patient might win in "jackpot justice?"

Several estimates have found that the cost of malpractice insurance alone is about 10% of the total cost of doctor and hospital care in America, or $110 billion; again, see RealClearMarkets. This is money directly out of the pockets of doctors and hospitals... which naturally means costs directly passed along to all patients.

Defensiveness

But the heaviest costs of malpractice litigation are indirect:

  • The actual monetary cost of "defensive medicine;"
  • The opportunity cost of overtaxing medical resources by unnecessary use of equipment and needless prescribing of scarce pharmaceuticals;
  • The doctor-patient time lost to increasingly onerous paperwork... documentation required to make a strong defense in court in response to the inevitable lawsuit;
  • Doctors refusing to accept high-risk patients, knowing they will incur far more lawsuits from such patients than from low-risk patients;
  • And worst of all, doctors abandoning entire specialties (such as obstetrics) associated with an unreasonable number of lawsuits -- and doctors fleeing states that strongly encourage malpractice lawsuits, or retiring early. Likewise students opting for another profession, one that's actually thriving... such as being a lawyer.

"Defensive medicine" comprises unnecessary tests, procedures, documentation, and hospital stays ordered, not because the doctor honestly believes they will help treat the medical problem, but rather to "immunize" doctors and hospitals from bogus malpractice lawsuits.

As far as actual money out of the system due to defensive medicine -- that is, due to the threat of malpractice litigation -- estimates range from huge ($60 billion per year) to gargantuan ($200 billion per year). Consider those the "direct" indirect costs imposed by trial lawyers.

But there are even vaster and more indirect damages caused by the congressional majority's love affair with lawyers. The first hidden cost is in resource depletion: Simply put, we have limited resources available for medical tests, such as X-rays or CAT scans. While a patient with no serious injury is being CAT scanned, just so that the doctor and hospital won't be dragged into court later, that particular sanner is unavailable to other patients with more serious injuries. From the Washington Times piece:

Medical resources are scarce In a hospital There are only so many CT scan machines and only so many radiologists to read them. When fear of lawyers causes practically every patient with a bump or bruise who enters the emergency room to get a CT scan whether it's clinically warranted or not, critically ill patients who need the scan inevitably must wait their turn.

While radiologists read unneeded tests, precious minutes tick by with patients suffering from possibly fatal conditions such as subarachnoid hemorrhage (bleeding in the brain) or septic shock (overwhelming infection) waiting quietly in the queue.

Similarly, if a doctor prescribes drugs for patients who don't really need them, because the doctor fears that some persuasive lawyer will convince a jury that he knows best, and the drug would surely have saved the patient's life -- then supplies of that vital drug will become scarce, and it may not be available for patients who really do need it. (It also drives up the price of drugs by the elementary rule of supply and demand.)

One hidden cost that few think about is that doctors must overdocument everything he does, just in order to defend himself when he's sued; all the paperwork extensively cuts into the time he can actually spend with his patients. From the Washington Times piece:

Another opportunity cost of jackpot justice is its effect on the time doctors can spend with patients. Patients often may wonder why doctors spend so little time with them in the hospital. Doctors are not out playing golf or eating bon bons. They are in back rooms writing notes, documenting everything they have done and everything they plan to do.

Every day, a detailed assessment and plan is needed to outline all actions and the reasoning behind them to protect doctors from lawsuits, acknowledging every lab value, test, consult. If nothing changes from one day to the next, doctors must take the time to write the same thing again. If it is not written down in the chart, it never happened.

While some medical cases can be quite complex and such inordinate documentation can help organize the case more clearly in the doctor's mind, often this is not the case. Primarily this degree of documentation is done out of necessity to keep the pesky lawyers at bay. In fact, by wasting valuable physician time that could be better spent actually seeing patients, it can be counterproductive to a patient's well-being.

Finally, fear of litigation produces yet another nasty effect... defensive dumping: Doctors are already refusing to accept high-risk patients, those with serious ongoing conditions or many allergies to drugs and "contrast agent" dyes, because they know a higher percent of them will have problems and complications from treatment -- and that means a corresponding increase in malpractice lawsuits, no matter how proper the treatment was.

Similarly, some medical specialties (obstetrics, for example) are inherently more legally risky; veteran doctors staring at spiraling malpractice premiums -- and especially newly minted doctors right out of residency, who haven't yet chosen a specialty -- will be driven to pick those that don't carry quite as much risk of spending several weeks (or months) in court. Worse, some potential med-school students will look at the costs and legal risks associated with being a doctor and opt for some other career entirely.

Malpractice tort costs amount to a "tax" on the practice of medicine -- and a subsidy for malpractice trial lawyers. What you tax, you get less of; and what you subsidize, you get more of; does America really want fewer doctors and more lawyers?

Finally, states that are litigation-happy, like New York and California, will watch as a flood of doctors leave and head towards states that have already enacted tort reform, like Texas. Great for citizens of Texas; bad for the rest of us. Make the pain universal enough, and we may have to start importing doctors from third-world countries, as the United Kingdom must now do.

Bottom line

It's impossible to make a precise estimate of how much money, resources, and doctor-patient face time tort reform would save; it depends upon what reform, how strong, and where the reform applies: Reform in California, where the health-care industry is virtually run by lawyers, would save a lot more money than a similar reform in Texas, which has already limited the extent to which lawyers can loot the system. But most academic estimates are in the range of $100 billion to $300 billion per year.

That makes tort reform one of the top targets for reducing the cost of medical care in the United States -- and well worth demanding in any so-called "reform" bill.

Unless the American people are willing to cough up donations in the hundreds of millions of dollars range, Democrats are not going to act on that demand; therefore the only viable strategy is to defeat those Democrats in the voting booth, where the opinion of an ordinary American voter is worth just as much as the opinion of a John Edwards clone.

Cross-posted on Hot Air's rogues' gallery...

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, January 28, 2010, at the time of 6:51 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Date ►►► January 27, 2010

SOTU: What Does ObamaMan Want?

Hatched by Dafydd

That's what tonight's State of the Union address (and voter reaction to it) will hinge upon: Does President Barack H. Obama want to be perceived as having succeeded on a handful of issues that resonate with voters? Or does he want to be perceived as having "stuck to his guns" on big-ticket, very left-liberal policies... that all failed?

In other words, is B.O. more interested in promoting the fortunes of B.O., or the fortunes of George Soros, MoveOn, and ACORN?

If the latter, there's nothing to say: If he's determined to go down with the lefty ship, let him. I believe we're past the danger than he would take the rest of the country down with him (except perhaps in terms of debt; but that would take quite a while). But if Obama is seriously interested in his own personal political future, then that brings us to the more interesting question: What could the president realistically say tonight that would start to repair the damage?

Note the highlighted word in that question: The Obamacle is not going to flip to being a Republican; nor is he capable of "triangulating," as Bill Clinton did, playing the Democrats off against the Republicans. He is bound not only by his past statements and behaviors -- which are far more radical than Bill Clinton pre-1994 -- but also by his own character and background: Basically, Obama is best described as "a community organizer for ACORN." Such a man cannot, for example, suddenly sign aboard a policy of reducing welfare, as Clinton did... it's simply not in Barack Obama's nature.

But there are things he can do; let's see if we can figure out a few. Yes, I know the speech is already cast in stone. But this is a fantasy; and anyway, change doesn't have to begin with this one particular speech.

Stop digging

The most important rule about holes: When you find yourself in one, the first step is to...

In this case, considering that each of Obama's signature programs has already flopped -- card check, the energy cripple and tax cap and trade bill, sundry stimuli, and of course ObamaCare -- it costs him nothing to say that he wants Congress to put all those programs of revolutionary change on hold for a while. In fact, he should announce they're on hold until the next Congress is seated; that will simultaneously recognize reality and also position Obama to become much more bipartisan by default, since everyone knows the next Congress will be more balanced.

He should also put on hold his habit of making incendiary, populist, Oogo-Chavez like rants against Big Oil, Big Stock, Big Bank, Big Pharma, and Big Insurance: The speeches aren't playing well with the voters and they're scaring the bejesus out of investors.

Finally, it's long, long past time to stop blaming George W. Bush for all of Barack H. Obama's travails and tribulations. B.O. should man-up and firmly announce that the buck stops at his seat. To wit, Obama should invite George W. Bush to meet with him at the White House to discuss, let's say, strategy in the war against the Iran/al-Qaeda Axis.

Time to give voters a breather.

Make some new friends

Speaking of partisanship, practically the entire country thinks there's been a whole lotta too much of it.

Obama should admit that he lost his focus on bipartisanship, but that he intends to be much more inclusive of Republicans and moderate Democrats this year. Specifically, that he intends to meet with them at the White House, discuss the issues, and press Congress to work out more bipartisan solutions to the nation's problems.

Since everyone knows that such vows are "pie-crust promises, easily made and easily broken," he should make a specific pledge to veto any major bill that comes to his desk with support from only one party. "And not just one or two votes; I want to see a good-faith effort to be inclusive."

Bush famously made a horse-trade after 9/11 and even more so after the Iraq War began: He gave the Democratic minority some of what it wanted on the domestic front (the Medicare prescription-drug extension, for example) in exchange for Democrats not inflicting military defeat on the American people in Iraq and Afghanistan, i.e., by filibustering supplementary Defense authorization bills.

Obama can make the same deal in reverse: He can offer a more robust response to terrorism and the two major wars in exchange for the GOP helping him pass some small-scale version of, say, health-care reform.

This isn't exactly triangulating; there's no 180° flip-flop required for Obama in this deal, since he has never said (post-inauguration) that we should pull out of Iraq immediately or that all terrorists should be treated as civilian criminals. It's just shading the policy a little more towards national security than liberals would prefer.

Start listening to your own best friend -- yourself

Obama often talks a good game (or at least a considerably less awful one) on issues such as deficit reduction, the war against the Axis, Executive transparency, an end to earmarks and other corruption, and private-sector job creation. So why not actually make good on a few of those promises?

These are areas where B.O. already talks the talk; he doesn't need to flip a loud and public flop. But it is long past time he walk the walk.

These three tacks in aggregate could go a long way towards tearing down the wall of separation between Obama and America. Alas, we already know what he plans to say... because evidently, la Casa Blanca has already released its "talking points" for tonight's speech. Power Line has 'em here.

And while I don't like to judge before all the facts are in, it appears as though the president has opted simply to redouble his efforts in all the same directions as the last year.

So it goes.

Cross-posted on Hot Air's rogues' gallery...

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, January 27, 2010, at the time of 5:54 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Date ►►► January 26, 2010

No More Health Care in America!

Hatched by Dafydd

Actually, it's just no more ObamaCare, according to the New York Times; I'm just going along with the media crowd that continually uses the term "health care" as a synonym for "mandatory, government-controlled, grotesquely expensive health insurance that leads inevitably to health-care rationing."

Here's the Times:

With no clear path forward on major health care legislation, Democratic leaders in Congress effectively slammed the brakes on President Obama’s top domestic priority on Tuesday, saying that they no longer felt pressure to move quickly on a health bill after eight months of setting deadlines and missing them....

Mr. Reid said that he and the House speaker, Nancy Pelosi of California, were working to map out a way to complete a health care overhaul in coming months. “There are a number of options being discussed,” Mr. Reid said, emphasizing “procedural aspects” of the issue.

And as we predicted last year, there will be no jam-down of ObamaCare using budget reconciliation:

At the same time, two centrist Democratic senators who are up for re-election this year, Blanche L. Lincoln of Arkansas and Evan Bayh of Indiana, said that they would resist efforts to muscle through a health care bill using a parliamentary tactic called budget reconciliation, which seemed to be the simplest way to advance the measure.

The White House has said in recent days that it would support that approach....

But a plan to win over House members by making changes to the Senate bill in the budget reconciliation process ran into substantial resistance on Tuesday.

Mrs. Lincoln, who faces one of the toughest re-election bids among Democrats, said, “I am opposed to and will fight against any attempts to push through changes to the Senate health insurance reform legislation by using budget reconciliation tactics that would allow the Senate to pass a package of changes to our original bill with 51 votes.”

Mr. Bayh said, “It would destroy the opportunity, if there is one, for any bipartisan cooperation the rest of this year on anything else.”

But they haven't given up entirely on passing something, anything, that they can call a health-care reform bill:

None of the options available to lawmakers, including the use of budget reconciliation, seems viable at the moment. Some lawmakers said they expected Congress to try to adopt a greatly pared down bill once it returns to the issue.

“Frankly, we’re trying to figure out what is possible,” Mr. Hoyer said. “Senator Reid needs to determine what is possible on his side of the aisle, you know, what kind of support he can get. And we’re trying to figure out as well what we can pass."

Sigmund Freud, the founder of modern psychoanalysis, famously expressed his perplexity with the distaff sex:

The great question that has never been answered, and which I have not yet been able to answer, despite my thirty years of research into the feminine soul, is "What does a woman want?"

The obvious rejoinder is -- why not ask her? (Freud actually posed his question in a letter to Marie Bonaparte, Napoleon Bonaparte's great-grandniece and a psychoanalyst herself; so perhaps Freud got his answer.)

Similarly, when Majority Leader Harry "Pinky" Reid (D-Caesar's Palace, 70%) asks, through his spokesman, "what kind of support he can get," he must surely be asking what kind of Republican support he can get... since the go-it-alone, Democrats-only approach failed miserably and humiliatingly.

And the obvious rejoinder is strikingly similar as above to Freud: Why doesn't Reid simply ask the Republicans what they would support?

The GOP has already offered a couple of health-insurance reform bills, which were so sooner debuted than the Democrats arrogantly flushed them. The Republican suggestions are several variations on putting more power in the hands of individual patients and doctors to decide their own treatment, thus removing much of the power that currently resides in government: both the regulatory regime of mandates and diktats and the judicial regime of medical-liability tort law:

  • Medical liability tort reform, to decrease outrageous malpractice verdicts and eliminate the need for "defensive medicine."
  • Insurance portability -- from job to job and from state to state.
  • Greater flexibility for insurance companies to create groups, coordinating small businesses, clubs, and buying blocs into pools of like-minded insurance customers.
  • Removing all government mandates on health-insurance policies, forcing them to cover every imaginable malady, condition, and the normal consequences of poor lifestyle choices. Let's make available a full range of insurance covereage, from minimalist plans to those "Cadillac" plans; you buy what you want and can afford.
  • More emphasis on catastrophic care plus medical savings accounts (MSAs), to put more treatment decisions directly in the hands of patients and their doctors and less in the hands of insurance adjusters.
  • And with all that, we can still take care of the poor by offering refundable tax credits for low-income families to be used to buy health insurance. There is no need for a "government option" and no voter desire for the government to get involved.

Governor Bobby Jindal of Louisiana already talked about these ideas in a Wall Street Journal op-ed; didn't Harry Reid read it?

Now that even the Democrats have been mugged by reality, perhaps their own sense of self preservation will triumph over their knee-jerk "progressivism" long enough to make common cause with the GOP and enact the health-insurance reform that Americans actually want.

I plan to hold my breath while waiting...

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, January 26, 2010, at the time of 8:11 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

That O'Keefe Arrest

Hatched by Dafydd

James O'Keefe -- he of the ACORN sting videos -- was arrested today, along with three likely accomplices, by the U.S. Marshal's Service for attempting to "interfere" with the phones in Sen. Mary Landrieu's (D-LA, 65%) office.

This seems peculiar... but we have one tantalizing clue to what might be going on:

Activist James O'Keefe, 25, was already in Landrieu's New Orleans office Monday when Robert Flanagan and Joseph Basel, both 24, showed up claiming to be telephone repairmen, according to U.S. Attorney Jim Letten's office. Letten says O'Keefe recorded the two with his cell phone.

Once inside the reception area, Flanagan, the son of acting U.S. Attorney Bill Flanagan in Shreveport, and Basel asked for access to the main phone at the reception desk.

After handling the phone, "Flanagan and Basel next requested access to the telephone closet because they needed to perform work on the main telephone system," Letten's office said.

The men were directed to another office in the building, they're accused of again misrepresenting themselves as telephone repairmen.

To my mind, it's overwhelming likely that O'Keefe was trying to pull off another sting, this time of Landrieu; but what, exactly? Did they really tamper with the phones? Or where they trying to see how easy it was to gain access to the phone system of a United States Senator? That could be important if the phone "interferers" were terrorists, for example, instead of a renegade journalist.

In any event, the sting, if such it was -- and why would O'Keefe be videorecording the activities if it wasn't a sting? -- went badly awry: Whatever vulnerability he was trying to demonstrate, I suspect he actually showed the opposite, at least in Landrieu's case.

Another question: Was this the first such phone "intereference" instance, or just the first failure? Perhaps O'Keefe has a dozen already completed videos where his crew succeeds in... well, in whatever it was they were trying to do.

I doubt that James O'Keefe will want to air any videos he has, however; they might precipitate numerous more charges against him, now that the FBI is already on his track!

In any event, it certainly sounds more like a blown sting operation and less like any real criminal intent was involved. But look for the ACORN-loving Left to go after O'Keefe hammer and tooth, calling him a criminal, a thug, and a terrorist.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, January 26, 2010, at the time of 2:05 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Date ►►► January 25, 2010

The Rear Ends Justify Their Meanness

Hatched by Dafydd

Fake but accurate

This is too rich for my carburetor:

The scientist behind the bogus claim in a Nobel Prize-winning UN report that Himalayan glaciers will have melted by 2035 last night admitted it was included purely to put political pressure on world leaders.

Dr Murari Lal also said he was well aware the statement, in the 2007 report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), did not rest on peer-reviewed scientific research.

In an interview with The Mail on Sunday, Dr Lal, the co-ordinating lead author of the report’s chapter on Asia, said: ‘It related to several countries in this region and their water sources. We thought that if we can highlight it, it will impact policy-makers and politicians and encourage them to take some concrete action.

‘It had importance for the region, so we thought we should put it in.’

Woo hoo. Now can we have a real national media debate about anthropogenic global climate change (AGCC)? Or is even admittedly bogus science nevertheless still "settled?"

We discussed this a while ago, in Slicing the Globaloney: a Case Study!, when the mendacity of the melting-glacier claim first came to light.

You may think everybody already knew the Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change (IPCC) document was nothing but a political talking-points memo; but I think fair-minded readers of the Big Lizards blog may yet overestimate how much the average person studies AGCC or pores over reports from the IPCC -- and underestimate how much ordinary folks are influenced by authoritative-sounding "scientific" pronunciamentos. In a sense, the entire "green" movement was kick-started by the increasingly dire and sepulchral warnings about a melting Earth, evaporating artic and glacial regions, global Noachian flooding, and poor, little polar bears helplessly adrift, clinging to icebergs, like 1920s "pole sitters" in dirty white fur coats.



Polar bear clinging to iceberg

The melting Earth!

 

Unquestionably, scientists practiced deep, deliberate deception, prostituting their scientific, academic, and government credentials for leftist politics... as well as for money; remember, climate scientists who report results in line with the IPCC and globaloney are rewarded with lucrative research grants; while those who report results at odds with the "storyboard" pushed by the AGCC agitators are frequently cut off from funding, often by deliberate sabotage from their own supposed colleagues.

The anointed must have their vision.

But will you still respect me in the morning?

By their scandalous dumping of science in favor of AGCC boosterism, the globaloney slicers not only shredded their own reputations, they squandered many decades of increasing public respect for and reliance on science as an independent arbiter of material truth. Today, the mission statement of the IPCC simply drips with hot irony:

According to the IPCC’s statement of principles, its role is ‘to assess on a comprehensive, objective, open and transparent basis, scientific, technical and socio-economic information -- IPCC reports should be neutral with respect to policy’.

Or to put it another way:

We thought that if we can highlight it, it will impact policy-makers and politicians and encourage them to take some concrete action.

Worse, Dr. Lal, who started the whole "melting glaciers" canard, casually lets slip that the entire peer-review system shivered like a cheap make-up mirror in the case of AGCC. It doesn't even seem to bother him; does he not comprehend the enormity of his confession?

Dr Lal said: ‘We knew the WWF report with the 2035 date was “grey literature” [material not published in a peer-reviewed journal]. But it was never picked up by any of the authors in our working group, nor by any of the more than 500 external reviewers, by the governments to which it was sent, or by the final IPCC review editors.’

Thus brake science.

Activists are baiters; and at that task, these chaps as masters

It's important to understand that anthropogenic ("Man-caused") global climate change -- globaloney, we call it here -- is a creature of the New Left; and its partisans follow the same strategies and tactics of that thuggish politics. Judge Robert Bork writes that the New Left began with the 1962 Port Huron Statement, written for the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) principally by Tom Hayden, later of the 1968 Chicago DNC riots fame.

While the old (Soviet Marxist) Left loved industrialization, the New Left lashes together old radical organizing and power-mongering, Marxian rhetoric about the proletariat vs. the bourgeoisie, and anti-technology, Luddite "green" boondoggling. Globaloney is one of the New Left's most successful projects; AGCC uses false science to raise hysterical claims of apocalypse that can only be averted by...

  1. Slashing worldwide technological advancement and industrialization to the level of some mythical, bucolic age of ancient shepherds and aboriginal tribes who "lived in harmony with Gaia;"
  2. And incidentally, redistributing hundreds of billions or even trillions of dollars from the rich, capitalist North and West to the impoverished, dessicated, socialist East and South, typically under a regime of mandatory "carbon credits."

(Not coincidentally, some of this deluge of dollars is siphoned into the pockets of the leaders of the AGCC movement, such as former Vice President, now Green Guru Albert Arnold Gore, Jr. "Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain!")

One traditional strategy of the Left, Old and New, is to infiltrate some highly respected neutral body or movement and subvert it to radical agitation; leftists have successfully played this hand from the civil-rights movement (see the Civil Rights Congress) in the 1940s, to the anti-nuclear movement (see Physicians for Social Responsibility) in the 1970s and 80s, to the "antiwar" movement of the post-9/11 period (see International ANSWER), to the IPCC the last couple of decades.

Whenever they produce this passion play, they achieve short-term political gains; but always at the cost of long-term or permanent degradation of public support and respectability for what used to be fine institutions, as everything apolitical is turned into a de facto advocate for radical leftism.

Look what has happened to the scientific field of climatology. After reciting a littany of peer-review comments that were ignored or scorned by the seven faces of Dr. Lal, the Daily Mail piece concludes on a sad and defeated note:

The damage to the IPCC’s reputation, already tarnished by last year’s ‘Warmergate’ leaked email scandal [we call it "Climategate" -- DaH], is likely to be considerable.

Benny Peiser, the [Global Warming Policy Foundation’s] director, said the affair suggested the IPCC review process was ‘skewed by a bias towards alarmist assessments’.

Environmentalist Alton Byers said the panel’s credibility had been damaged. ‘They’ve done sloppy work,’ he said. ‘We need better research on the ground, not unreliable predictions derived from computer models.’

Last night, [IPCC Chairman Dr. Raj Pachauri] defended the IPCC, saying it was wrong to generalise based on a single mistake. ‘Our procedure is robust,’ he added.

Or to put it another way...

In the movie Dr. Strangelove, Gen. "Buck" Turgidson learns that Gen. Jack D. Ripper ordered his planes to drop atomic bombs on the USSR -- precipitating a nuclear Armageddon in order to defend Americans' "purity of essence" and "precious bodily fluids". When Turgidson tells the president, the latter suggests that Gen. Ripper is a psychotic.

Turgidson responds, "Well I don't think it's quite fair to condemn a whole program because of a single slip-up, sir."

I wonder how long it will take the field of climatology to cleanse its own precious bodily fluids.

Cross-posted on Hot Air's rogues' gallery...

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, January 25, 2010, at the time of 11:04 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Date ►►► January 23, 2010

The Latitudes of a Liberal

Hatched by Dafydd

In pondering the opposite of the set of characteristic traits of conservatives, I realized I was by and large describing liberals. In other words, contrary to what some libertarians, "moderates," and assorted third parties believe, conservatives and liberals really are nearly 180° apart from each other.

Again, other groups may share some of these traits; they are not exclusive to liberals. For example, socialists share many but not all.

As you can see, I have only one of these "liberal" traits (in bold italics); and even that one is conditional: I do believe the United States is the greatest country that has ever existed... but I still have a preference for governance below the level of the modern nation-state (with some doubts about its feasibility).

I would consider anyone with 13 of the 17 traits (about 75%) firmly in the "liberal" camp.

So here are the liberal traits; never let it be said I was not even-handed in my high-handedness.

Liberal characteristics

  1. Deep belief in utopia and the perfectability (via deconstruction and reconstruction) of humanity
  2. Anger, bitterness, and pessimism, possibly because their belief in utopia and perfectability constantly leaves them disappointed (as commenter BigLeeH suggested)
  3. Quasi-internationalism: They believe there is a place for nationalism, just as there is for state and local government; but some international standards should trump provincial nationalism (e.g., the "World Court of Justice")
  4. Allergy to American exceptionalism, which they consider provincial
  5. Rejection of "kneejerk" patriotism, which they consider chauvinist, but not to the point of hatred of America
  6. Rejection any large or adventurous role for America on the world stage -- unless we have no national interest whatsoever, our intervention is purely altruistic
  7. Preference for collectivist solutions, whenever possible
  8. Preference for "highly regulated capitalism;" in particular, they have it in for small business. Strong support for huge corporations, especially multinational corporations -- perhaps because multinationals are (a) internationalist and (b) always willing to play "Let's Make a Deal" with governments
  9. Belief in as large a government as possible, while still retaining the mixed and regulated form of Capitalism
  10. Preference for top-down decision-making, especially by unelected judges, due to a lack of trust in mere voters; but without the complete rejection of democracy (in theory, it's perfectable!)
  11. Belief in extreme version of Darwinian biological evolution -- which they believe proves the nonexistence of God
  12. Belief that all religion is just community consciousness and social control (which can be good or bad, depending on how it's directed)
  13. Denial that personhood begins at conception; some seem reluctant to admit that personhood begins even at birth; passionate support for abortion, including late-term abortion, as a "woman's right to choose"
  14. Passionate belief in the legislating of good health habits
  15. Strong distrust of the American military, security, and intelligence apparatuses as "agents of oppression"
  16. Preference for minorities over the majority -- on the basis of race, sex (women are honorary minorities), sexual preference, and ethnicity
  17. Love of non-Americans over Americans

Again, your definition of a liberal may differ from mine; this is just my inductively reasoned extraction of characteristic liberal traits as I see them. Comment is welcome!

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, January 23, 2010, at the time of 2:04 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

Date ►►► January 22, 2010

The Consciousness of a Conservative

Hatched by Dafydd

In correspondence with my pal and sometime co-conspirator Brad Linaweaver -- currently publisher of Mondo Cult magazine -- I coughed up a list of characteristics of conservatives.

Mind, this is not some authoritarian, top-down deduction from first principles; I developed this list by inductive reasoning, not deductive: I have studied the conservatives I know for years, and I observed the following traits.

Naturally, not every conservative has every trait; but all of those I would call "conservative" (and who call themselves conservative) satisfy the lion's share of these characteristics. Similarly, not every trait is exclusive to conservatives; for example, libertarians share many.

I have some (those in bold italics) but lack others. My score is 44%, seven out of 16, but I do not call myself a consevative. My personal definition of a contemporary conservative ca. 2010 is that he has 12 out of the 16 traits, or 75%.

Update: I added two traits, one in response to commenter Baggi (belief in small government), the other because I just thought of it (nationalism). I also added examples to clarify the trait, belief in the legislating of virtue.

This has, of course, altered the numbering; so in commenting, please use the current numbers -- else everyone will be confused!

Conservative characteristics

  1. Optimism about the future and the courage to face its challenges
  2. The complete rejection of utopianism or human-achievable perfection -- this one was suggested by Brad; I hadn't thought of it, but Brad is right!
  3. Adventurousness, dreaming big, achieving the "impossible"
  4. Individualism, in contrast to collectivism
  5. Capitalism, in particular, small-business entrepeneurship
  6. Strong tendency towards preserving American traditions, whether good or bad
  7. Patriotism
  8. Nationalism, as opposed to internationalism
  9. Religiosity
  10. A strong tendency to reject evolution by natural selection as denying God and the spiritual nature of Man
  11. A strong belief that personhood begins at conception, thus that abortion is nearly always morally bad
  12. Belief in the legislating of virtue; i.e., laws against "sodomy" and other forms of unusual sex, drug use, prostitution, public nudity (at beaches, for example); censorship of sex and "excessive" violence on TV, in comics, and in videogames; tax exemptions for religious institutions; protection of (mostly Judeo-Christian) religious expressions in public institutions
  13. Belief in small government -- but still large enough to defend the country, provide for the needy, and legislate virtue
  14. Deep respect for and appreciation of the American military
  15. Respect for the democratic decisions of the people -- extreme distaste for oligarchy (especially kritarchy)
  16. Distrust of foreigners, especially immigrants

(Note that 2 and 3 do not contradict; conservatives reject utopianism... but they also reject defeatism. That's all I meant by these two.)

Your definition of conservative may not match mine; your mileage may vary. Many people call themselves conservatives who I would call liberals or libertarians or even Leftists (e.g., Andrew Sullivan). I'm not saying my definition is the true one or even the best; it's just... mine.

Naturally, readers are encouraged to comment on the list -- what should be deleted, added, or modified. You may fire when ready, Buckley!

A brief liberal interlude... As I see them, liberals score nearly zero on this set of traits; but they have their own set. See next post.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, January 22, 2010, at the time of 10:05 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

A Futile Constitutional Exercise, But a Nice Shibboleth Nonetheless

Hatched by Dafydd

I would love to see Republicans in House and Senate propose the following amendment to the United States Constitution; it's short, simple, and substantive:

The rights, liberties, privileges, and immunities protected by this Constitution shall apply only to United States citizens and legally resident or visiting aliens, not found to have taken up arms against the United States of America.

I'm not deluded enough to think it would find even a majority in either chamber, let alone the two-thirds necessary to move it to the state legislatures. But at the very least, I would love to see Democrats squirm as they're forced by the Left to vote against it.

I want to hear their arguments, as they ponder the looming elections, why we should extend the Constitution to cover both illegal aliens and enemy combatants. And I'll bet their positions will further alienate them from Republicans and Independents, and even from quite a few patriotic Democrats.

Cross-posted on Hot Air's rogues' gallery...

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, January 22, 2010, at the time of 3:25 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

California Democrats Ache for Canadian/UK Style Government Health Care

Hatched by Dafydd

A couple of days after Scott Brown's victory in Massachusetts -- a campaign primarily fought against ObamaCare -- the California state senate will now consider imposing a single-payer, government-run, "universal" health-care scheme on the rest of us. Again.

I rib you not; state Sen. Mark Leno decided this was the perfect time to push a massive government takeover -- in a state on the brink of fiscal collapse, whose credit rating was just lowered again in June, and already had the lowest credit rating of any state before June:

While the move came as questions arose over the prospects of Congress adopting national health care legislation, the author of the California bill, State Senator Mark Leno, said that the timing was coincidental. Mr. Leno said it was basically a long-planned reintroduction of a 2009 proposal that was effectively tabled because of its potential cost. But he did concede that Tuesday’s special Senate election in Massachusetts, in which Democrats lost their filibuster-proof 60-vote majority, was not completely lost on him.

“Scott Brown did not push me to do this,” said Mr. Leno, referring to the newly elected Republican senator from Massachusetts. But, he said, “as a result of Tuesday’s election, there is ever greater need for leadership in state legislatures to reform health care.”

This is the third time in four years that liberal fascists with totalitarian impulses have tried to seize control of all medical care in America's biggest state. Yeah, that's the kind of "leadership" we need: A governmen-run health-care bill that costs $200 billion the first year -- twice this year's total state spending, which is between $82.9 billion and $102.6 billion, depending on whether the legislature accepts various spending cuts or raises new taxes. The state already runs a $20 billion budget deficit; but I'm sure that will vanish, with the vast cost savings that always result when the government takes over a sector of the economy.

In 2006 and 2008, the lege passed and repassed SB 840, the California Universal Healthcare Act, introduced by state Sen. Sheila James Kuehl -- perhaps better known as Sheila James, "Zelda Gilroy" of the Dobie Gillis TV show. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed both bills (rather, the same bill twice); but even had one passed, California voters would have had to approve it in a statewide legislative initiative.

The new bill has been renumbered SB 810, this time introduced by Sen. Mark Leno (I don't think he is related to Jay, but he's just as much of a joke.) Schwarzenegger is still governor, but this is his final year; the gubernatorial election is this November, and Schwarzenegger is term-limited out. However, I have great hopes that Meg Whitman, former president and CEO of eBay, will beat former governor, current attorney general, and professional moonbat Jerry Brown.

But even if Brown is elected (again) and signs the bill, I am utterly convinced that voters here are at least as smart as voters in Massachusetts: We shall reject this boondoggle resoundingly.

I do have a suggestion, however. The name of the "new" bill is still the California Universal Healthcare Act, CUHA; but this is dull and pedestrian. Rather, I suggest it be redubbed the Better-Off Health Insurance for California Act, or BOHICA... because that's what the legislature is once again demanding Californios do.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, January 22, 2010, at the time of 1:02 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Date ►►► January 21, 2010

If John McCain Is Wise...

Hatched by Dafydd

...He'll swallow and admit his lousy bill was already dead yesterday.

The Supreme Court -- narrowly and bitterly divided along the usual lines -- has finally put the nail in the heart of Sen John S. McCain's (R-AZ, 63%) worst and costliest error: the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002, a.k.a. the BCRA, a.k.a. McCain-Feingold. Its core is now deader than a clam:

Sweeping aside a century-old understanding and overruling two important precedents, a bitterly divided Supreme Court on Thursday ruled that the government may not ban political spending by corporations in candidate elections....

“If the First Amendment has any force,” Justice Anthony M. Kennedy wrote for the majority, which included the four members of its conservative wing, “it prohibits Congress from fining or jailing citizens, or associations of citizens, for simply engaging in political speech.”

Justice John Paul Stevens read a long dissent from the bench. He said the majority had committed a grave error in treating corporate speech the same as that of human beings. His decision was joined by the other three members of the court’s liberal wing.

It's hard to imagine any response to the bolded quotation above from the majority opinion that doesn't depend upon the overt or implicit rejection of freedom of speech. I haven't read Justice Stevens' full dissent -- it's 90 pages -- but from what I have read, it's just a long-winded exercise in sleight of tongue, dancing around his core disagreement with the very idea of universal freedom of speech. It boils down to "free speech for me but not for thee."

You can find the opinions here; for your reading pleasure, here's the breakdown of authorship:

  1. Justice Anthony Kennedy, writing for the majority: pp. 1-64 (of the pdf);
  2. Chief Justice John Roberts: pp. 65-78;
  3. Justice Antonin Scalia: pp. 79-87;
  4. Justice John Paul Stevens, writing for the minority: pp. 88-177;
  5. Justice Clarence Thomas: pp. 178-183.

Here is, I think, the crux of Stevens' dissent; in this and all quotations from the opinions, I omit all citations and references:

In the context of election to public office, the distinction between corporate and human speakers is significant. Although they make enormous contributions to our society, corporations are not actually members of it. They cannot vote or run for office. Because they may be managed and controlled by nonresidents, their interests may conflict in fundamental respects with the interests of eligible voters. The financial resources, legal structure, and instrumental orientation of corporations raise legitimate concerns about their role in the electoral process. Our lawmakers have a compelling constitutional basis, if not also a democratic duty, to take measures designed to guard against the potentially deleterious effects of corporate spending in local and national races.

But freedom of speech is not restricted to "eligible voters;" we've always considered it universal and fundamental (though not absolute, of course).

First , a liberty is only fundamental if it applies equally to all; otherwise it's a government-created privilege, revokable at will.

Second, we're not talking about a "corporation" broadcasting speech, some alien entity with no existence apart from a legal fiction for convenience. The corporation comprises its owners, each of whom is a legal person; it's not the corporation that speaks, its the all-too-human owners.

When the owners of a corporation -- or their representatives on the board of directors -- use corporate funds to pay for an advertisement saying "vote for Joe," it is functionally identical to the same people broadcasting the same advert, but paying for it out of their personal checking accounts. The only difference is legal, and it's a distinction that was created by previous laws and the judicial intepretation of those laws... it's not a natural or obvious distinction to ordinary people. If I incorporate and pay for this blogspace out of corporate funds, do I no longer enjoy freedom to say what I want here, without government looking over my shoulder?

It's preposterous to argue that these six guys have a fundamental right to speak if they pay for it out of the money in their home vault... but they can legally be silenced if they use funds of a corporation they own -- at least silenced in the final two months of a campaign, when political speech would be particularly effective.

If they can be so silenced, then we have no fundamental right to freedom of speech; we have a conditional right under the control of the federal government. Once freedom of speech is no longer fundamental, the feds can suppress it on almost any ground; see a previous post of ours about Geert Wilders, currently being criminally prosecuted in the Netherlands for insulting Islamism.

Stevens devotes a great many pages complaining about the "scope" of the decision (the majority should have decided the case on narrow, crabbed grounds), and singing paeans to "stare decisis," the principle that "settled doctrine" should be respected. He admits he's not an "absolutist" on that issue; indeed, it would be hard for a justice who supported the Hamdan decision, giving constitutional rights as a criminal defendant to an unlawful enemy combatant captured on the battlefield, to portray himself as anything but a judicial radical (yes, I include Anthony Kennedy).

So evidently, stare decisis applies only to precedents that Justice Stevens happens to like, such as Roe v. Wade (and McConnell v. FEC or Austin v. Michigan Chamber of Commerce, the cases the Court overturned today). Sadly, Stevens is actually the best of the usual suspects on the left side of the Court: I doubt that Justices Ruth Bader Ginsberg, Stephen Breyer, or Sonia Sotomayor would even bother pretending to respect judicial restraint or settled law, when precedent is confronted by their own revolutionary aspirations.

Roberts put the fundamentality of freedom of speech as starkly and clearly as I've ever seen in a Court opinion:

The Government urges us in this case to uphold a direct prohibition on political speech. It asks us to embrace a theory of the First Amendment that would allow censorship not only of television and radio broadcasts, but of pamphlets, posters, the Internet, and virtually any other medium that corporations and unions might find useful inexpressing their views on matters of public concern. Its theory, if accepted, would empower the Government to prohibit newspapers from running editorials or opinion pieces supporting or opposing candidates for office, so long as the newspapers were owned by corporations -- as the major ones are. First Amendment rights could be confined to individuals, subverting the vibrant public discourse that is at the foundation of our democracy.

The Court properly rejects that theory, and I join its opinion in full. The First Amendment protects more than just the individual on a soapbox and the lonely pamphleteer.

Or to put it into Saul Alinsky's terms, freedom of speech is universal: It applies not only to the "have-nots" (rather, their spokesmen) but to the "haves" as well. It's both a danger and a signal of American exceptionalism that until today, the law did not recognize that universality, instead advantaging the have-nots. Would any real American argue that if a rich man were arrested for a crime, he shouldn't be allowed to hire an attorney? That he can be forced to testify against himself? That he could be tortured into confessing, just because he has money? It's facially absurd.

Next, Roberts brilliantly disposes of Stevens' claim that today's decision was unnecessarily broad, that the majority should have decided the case more narrowly, rather than striking down the heart of the BCRA. Roberts first notes that, since the minority agreed with the circus court that Citizens United had no case, they must necessarily have found, as did the majority, that the "narrower" defenses put up by Citizens United were without merit.

Citizens United's attorneys did the usual good job: They argued a host of narrower issues -- such as the idea that the law wasn't meant to apply to a group like them, that the anti-Hillary Clinton movie wasn't "express advocacy," and so forth; and they also argued that the law itself was unconstitutional. Once the Court had disposed of the lesser, narrower defenses, it was duty-bound to consider the final defense as well: whether the BCRA itself violated the First Amendment.

Here's Roberts:

The dissent advocates an approach to addressing Citizens United’s claims that I find quite perplexing. It presumably agrees with the majority that Citizens United’s narrower statutory and constitutional arguments lack merit -- otherwise its conclusion that the group should lose this case would make no sense. Despite agreeing that these narrower arguments fail, however, the dissent argues that the majority should nonetheless latch on to one of them in order to avoid reaching the broader constitutional question of whether Austin remains good law. It even suggests that the Court’s failure to adopt one of these concededly meritless arguments is a sign that the majority is not "serious about judicial restraint."

This approach is based on a false premise: that our practice of avoiding unnecessary (and unnecessarily broad) constitutional holdings somehow trumps our obligation faithfully to interpret the law. It should go without saying, however, that we cannot embrace a narrow ground of decision simply because it is narrow; it must also be right. Thus while it is true that "[i]f it is not necessary to decide more, it is necessary not to decide more," sometimes it is necessary to decide more. There is a difference between judicial restraint and judicial abdication. When constitutional questions are "indispensably necessary" to resolving the case at hand, "the court must meet and decide them." [Bold emphasis added]

Finally, Roberts knocks down the "stare decisis" red herring... Stevens' view that precedent should always be respected when he agrees with it:

Fidelity to precedent -- the policy of stare decisis -- is vital to the proper exercise of the judicial function. "Stare decisis is the preferred course because it promotes the evenhanded, predictable, and consistent development of legal principles, fosters reliance on judicial decisions, and contributes to the actual and perceived integrity of the judicial process." For these reasons, we have long recognized that departures from precedent are inappropriate in the absence of a "special justification."

At the same time, stare decisis is neither an "inexorable command," nor "a mechanical formula of adherence to the latest decision," especially in constitutional cases. If it were, segregation would be legal, minimum wage laws would be unconstitutional, and the Government could wiretap ordinary criminal suspects without first obtaining warrants....

Stare decisis is instead a "principle of policy." When considering whether to reexamine a prior erroneous holding, we must balance the importance of having constitutional questions decided against the importance of having them decided right. As Justice Jackson explained, this requires a "sober appraisal of the disadvantages of the innovation as well as those of the questioned case, a weighing of practical effects of one against the other."

In conducting this balancing, we must keep in mind that stare decisis is not an end in itself. It is instead "the means by which we ensure that the law will not merely change erratically, but will develop in a principled and intelligible fashion." Its greatest purpose is to serve a constitutional ideal -- the rule of law. It follows that in the unusual circumstance when fidelity to any particular precedent does more to damage this constitutional ideal than to advance it, we must be more willing to depart from that precedent.

But apart from the fundamental right, there is another here that the Court could not address, as it has nothing to do with the Constitution or the law per se. The fact is, McCain-Feingold has been a manifest failure from the very beginning.

Its avowed purpose was to get the money out of political campaigns; but more money is spent now than ever before. And the legal distinctions crafted by the BCRA merely spawned a labyrinth of newly created entities, such as "527s", whose sole purpose is to circumvent all the rules and regulations on political speech that Sens. McCain and Russell Feingold (D-WI, 100%) thought would "control" speech -- when that speech came from corporations, i.e., the "haves." Both McCain and Feingold, as well as most of the members of Congress who voted for it, and even the president who signed it, have pretensions to "populism;" they love nothing more than to bash the "privileged" on behalf of the masses. (I can say the same about the Obamacle's proposed tax on banks and punitive regulation of banking pay and practices.)

Critics of the decision say it will "open the floodgates" of campaign funding. Well what the heck did they see during the 2008 presidential election? Barack H. Obama alone spent more than half a billion dollars.

The idea that the BCRA would curtail spending was idiocy on stilts; and I hold it very much against McCain for writing it, and against George W. Bush for signing it. The only people really hurt by it were legitimate issue-advocacy groups, who had to lawyer up and waste money on defensive legal strategies, just to promote their own political issue without running afoul of some authoritarian tyrant at the Federal Elections Commission and his draconian interpretation of McCain-Feingold's "restrictions."

The BCRA is mostly gone; the Court upheld the reporting requirements and limits on direct contributions to political campaigns, but that much could probably have passed without controversy in 2002, or even today. On the call of the issue, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY, 100%) is right: The ruling in Citizens United v. the FEC absolutely "guts" the free-speech restrictions that were at the heart of the controversy over the BCRA.

And I say good riddance to bad rubbish.

If John McCain has a functioning brain, he should put on his manly gown, gird his loins, and pull up his socks: He needs to admit the BCRA was a gross violation of liberty -- and a colossal failure to boot. If he does, my respect for him will grow; if instead he pounds the table and denounces the Court's majority as elitists and corporate apologists, he will lose a great deal of the good will I felt for him during the 2008 campaign.

As many have noted, this has been one heckuva week for anti-liberals:

  • Scott Brown won in Massachuestts;
  • Erroll Southers withdrew as the nominee to head the TSA;
  • The U.N. finally admitted that the glaciers in the Himalayas are not about to vanish anytime soon, as they had claimed for years;
  • ObamaCare appears to be dead, at least for the forseeable future;
  • Air America filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy;
  • And now McCain-Feingold bites the dust.

So what will we do for excitement next week?

Cross-posted on Hot Air's rogues' gallery...

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, January 21, 2010, at the time of 6:20 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Date ►►► January 20, 2010

The Exception That Tests the Rule

Hatched by Dafydd

For anyone who still denies either the rightness or existence of "American exceptionalism," consider this appalling story:

Dutch lawmaker Geert Wilders sat in the defendant's dock Wednesday, nodding his head as prosecutors read aloud a hundred remarks he has made condemning Islam, Muslims and immigrants -- notably one comparing the Quran to Hitler's "Mein Kampf."

Wilders' criminal trial for allegedly inciting hate against Muslims has resonance across Europe: He is one of a dozen right-wing politicians on the continent who are testing the limits of freedom of speech while voicing voters' concerns at the growth of Islam.

For the tendentious phrasing, "the growth of Islam," read the more accurate "the growth of Islamism." If Moslems were coming to the Netherlands and assimilating, as they do for the most part in the United States, I honestly doubt Geert Wilders would have such a problem with them. But because of the liberal socialism of Western Europe, a member of the Dutch parliament is now on trial for properly representing his own constituents.

Here is the philosophical sequence:

  • Liberal socialism ("Stalinism lite") has infected Western Europe for many decades. (One could make a good argument that Otto Eduard Leopold prince von Bismarck, the "Iron Chancellor" of Prussia, invented it in the latter half of the nineteenth century.) Note, this is not liberal fascism; it's the internationalist version. Hence the European Union, the first step on the liberal-socialist (lib-soc) road to global government.
  • A primary element of liberal socialism is atheism; lib-soc governments persecute Judeo-Christian religions and to a lesser extent frown upon all other religions: Their religion is "secular humanism" -- that is, the First Church of Fundamentalist Materialism, as Robert Anton Wilson used to put it.
  • A secondary effect of official and widespread Fundamentalist Materialism is a dramatic and frightening drop in the regional fertility rate. We can explore the "whys" in more depth another time if folks find the connection puzzling; suffice to say that Western Europe is not replacing its population, hence must import truly staggering levels of immigrant labor.
  • Since Europe must draw from those cultures that have a high fertility rate for their foreign labor pool, they tend to draw disproportionately from Moslem populations in Indonesia, the Philippines, Malaysia, Turkey, and Morocco. For example, in the Netherlands, six percent of the labor pool are Moslems from the latter two countries. (If the same ratio applied in the United States, we would have 9.25 million Moslem immigrants in the civilian labor pool, or about eight to ten times the level we actually have.)
  • Another primary element of lib-soc is authoritarianism; socialist states are authoritatian by definition.
  • One secondary effect of authoritarianism is that the government not only does not encourage immigrants to assimilate, it typically doesn't allow them to. Instead, immigrants are shunted into enclaves and ghettos and generally treated as "the help," rather than as full citizens... even those who were actually born in the "host" country. Generation after generation can be born in some European countries, but none is considered a full citizen.
  • Such "apartness" leads inevitably to a great many immigrants seeing themselves as transients and foreigners in the land of their birth; they often turn against the "host" with a vengeance, rioting and looting, sealing off areas and declaring them "liberated" from the host and instead under the laws -- or the imagined laws -- of the rioters' ancestral countries. For the most obvious example, Moslem "immigrants" may seal off the Moslem enclaves and declare them under sharia law, instead of French, Dutch, or Spanish law. (The same dynamic of separation from the rest of society leads to criminal behavior among native-born full citizens.)
  • Yet another aspect of authoritarianism is that, for all their high-minded hectoring of the rest of the world, socialist countries do not actually protect freedom of speech. (This claim should not even be controversial.)
  • Ergo, put everything together, and we have the situation in the Netherlands, which applies in a great many other European countries as well: The country has a real, serious, and growing problem with estranged and disaffected Moslem youths; but hate-speech codes make it a criminal offense to discus the disastrous failure of the government's social policy, even by members of parliament.

It's a prescription for catastophe. It could never happen in Ronald Reagan's or George W. Bush's America because of individualism, assimilation, and community; I fear it may be all too plausible in Barack H. Obama's America.

The solution to this terrible dilemma is quite beyond the capacity of any socialist country; but it's the essence, the very core, of American exceptionalism (or simple Americanism):

  • Allow immigrants to assimilate;
  • Encourage, urge, and demand that they assimilate;
  • Require that they be assimilable before letting them immigrate in the first place;
  • And treat them exactly like every other American citizen when they do assimilate and naturalize themselves.

This is the ideal, however imperfectly it can be applied in the real world. Alas that we have an immigration system biased against assimilation; and we have two prevailing ideologies, neither of which is geared towards assimilation for different reasons: The Left doesn't want aliens to assimilate because lib-socs tend to dislike America and all it stands for; while the Right doesn't want aliens to come here at all, by and large, because they understand assimilation is a two-way street.

Like the Borg, when we assimilate an immigrant, we add his cultural "memes" to American culture. That's one reason we're such a powerful and irresistable force for social change throughout the world... and it's a positive characteristic, not a necessary evil.

But I think I fight a lonely war on this issue.

Cross-posted on Hot Air's rogues' gallery...

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, January 20, 2010, at the time of 9:00 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Life Goes On: Adios, Erroll Southers

Hatched by Dafydd

The week in politics just keeps getting better and better.

In a brief and happy follow-up to an earlier post on Big Lizards, Terror Strike Out, we are pleased to report that Barack H. Obama's nominee to head up the Transportation Security Agency, Erroll Southers, has withdrawn. Or Obama withdrew him. Or he was informed that he would never be confirmed, so beat it.

Or else, maybe another big revelation was about to drop, and he high-tailed it -- Bog only knows:

President Barack Obama's choice to lead the Transportation Security Administration withdrew his name Wednesday, a setback for an administration still trying to explain how a man could attempt to blow up a commercial airliner on Christmas Day.

The Obamacle nominated Southers in September, but Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC, 100%) put a hold on the nomination. To quote ourselves (one of our favorite pastimes)...

DeMint's hold... is due to Southers' refusal so far to answer one simple question:

DeMint won't withdraw his hold until Southers answers a simple question -- does he think TSA employees should be allowed to collectively bargain with the government on workplace rules and procedures? To date, Southers has declined to give a definitive response to DeMint's question, even though it's importance was highlighted by the attempted Christmas Day massacre of nearly 300 people aboard Northwest Airlines Flight 253 by Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab. The 23-year-old Nigerian Muslim terrorist boarded the Detroit-bound flight despite having explosives sewn into his knickers.

In addition, Paul Mirengoff at Power Line noted that Southers repeatedly lied to the Senate during his, Southers', confirmation hearings. (Actually, I don't think Paul has ever undergone Senate confirmation hearings, so you probably weren't confused. Never mind.)

During testimony before the Senate Homeland Security Committee, two senators, Joe Lieberman (I-CT, 85% Dem) and Susan Collins (R-ME, 20%) -- the chair and ranking member of that committee -- questioned Southers about his abuse of authority when he was in the FBI. In response, he lied at least twice. He "corrected" his testimony only when he was caught.

Southers later admitted that he used his FBI powers to run a database search on his "then-estranged wife's boyfriend," and that the FBI censured him when they found out; that was lie number one. The second was that in his corrected testimony, he said that he had gotten the local police to do the search; in fact, he subsequently admitted he had run it personally, himself. Each correction was issued only after the lie was discovered.

The "coups d'étatist" just keep coming, don't they?

Southers continues to whine about his ill treatment, rather than simply man-up and answer the questions:

Erroll Southers said he was pulling out because his nomination had become a lightning rod for those with a political agenda. Obama had tapped Southers, a top official with the Los Angeles Airport Police Department, to lead the TSA in September but his confirmation has been blocked by Republican Sen. Jim DeMint, who says he was worried that Southers would allow TSA employees to have collective bargaining rights.

In an interview with The Associated Press, Southers said the confirmation process made him question his willingness to participate in public service.

"I am not a politician. I'm a counterrrorism expert," Southers said Wednesday. "They took an apolitical person and politicized my career."

His response makes me doubly glad that DeMint stood firm on the unionization question, and that Lieberman and Collins stood firm on the abuse issue. Curiously, it looked like Obama and Southers had already won just before they pulled the plug (kind of like the voter intimidation case against the Black Panthers). From the Washington Post piece liked atop:

The withdrawal of Southers' nomination was another setback for the TSA at a time when the government is still trying to answer questions from Congress about how a man was able to carry out a bombing attempt on Christmas Day on a Northwest Airlines flight found from Amsterdam to Detroit.

Democrats had lined up behind Southers' nomination after the December incident, with Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., saying he would call for a full Senate vote on his confirmation this year.

This is why I wonder whether another shoe was about to drop: Ordinarily, a president doesn't pull a nominee when the Majority Leader of the Senate has practically guaranteed a vote. Perhaps Southers, like ObamaCare, fell "victim" to the election of Scott Brown in Massachusetts... which means that Obama must have been pretty sure that Republicans would vote en masse against the Southers nomination.

Frankly, I would find that unlikely... unless the president (or his nominee) knows something I don't know, a possibility that now becomes a probability.

I admit that on paper, he looked like a good candidate to head the TSA; but that's why you don't hire an applicant until you've had a chance to interview him in person. In this case, it was the tête-à-tête in the Senate that brought out both these problems, either of which alone should have been a deal-killer:

  • That Southers clearly had every intent of giving "collective bargaining" rights to TSA employees, so they could threaten national security by going on strike whenever their union demands it (so much for being "an apolitical person");
  • And that he had already abused his authority at one law-enforcement agency, then lied to the Senate about it at least twice -- a point he failed to bring up in his whiny withdrawal announcement.

In any event, another Obamic nominee bites the dust. So it goes.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, January 20, 2010, at the time of 4:54 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Date ►►► January 19, 2010

George the Magic Cracker

Hatched by Dafydd

So Barack H. Obama went up to Boston, campaigning hard for Massachusetts Attorney General Martha "Chokely" Coakley to win the special election to serve the remainder of Ted Kennedy's term.

It didn't work out quite as planned.

Now the Democrats have found their newest scapegoat, and it turns out to be... Oh heck, let them tell it themselves:

Appearing at a rally at Northeastern University here, President Obama said out-of-power Republicans had taken advantage of the economic crisis to make Democrats the political fall guy during difficult times.

"We’re going to let them make the tough choices, and let them rescue the economy, and then we’re going to tap into that anger and frustration," was how Obama described the GOP strategy -- deeming it a "sleight of hand...."

"There were going to be some who stood on the sidelines, who were protectors of the big banks, protectors of the big insurance companies, protectors of the big drug companies who were going to say, 'You know what, we can take advantage of this crisis,'" [Obama] told the crowd.

It's all Bush's fault!

What is remarkable about this petulant outburst is the admission against interest that it subtlely incorporates: Even a year after Bush finished his final term, and despite the current president's whirlwind tour of Beacon Hill, retired president Bush evidently retains more electoral clout and cachet than Barack Obama.

 

I think they'd better think it out again...

Cross-posted on Hot Air's rogues' gallery...

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, January 19, 2010, at the time of 11:25 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

As of 6:24 PM PST...

Hatched by Dafydd

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley just conceded. State Sen. Scott Brown will be the new U.S. senator from Massachusetts.

 

 

 

Hip hip, chin chin, the rhythm section.

 

 

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, January 19, 2010, at the time of 6:30 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Is High Turnout in "Massachusettes" Bad? Not Necessarily!

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Dennis Prager said the turnout in the Massachusetts special Senate election was high. I don't know whether he is correct, whether he misheard -- or even whether some left-leaning reporter tendentiously reported such when it wasn't true; but certainly the Conventional Wisdom ™ is that a low turnout helps the Republican, while a high turnout means the Democrats have gotten their base excited.

I still have no idea about today's turnout in the Bay State -- but I utterly reject the Conventional Wisdom ™ regardless.

If all the polls are accurate, then the enthusiasm is all on Scott Brown's side, not "Marcia" Coakley's. Thus, a big turnout would seem more likely to be due to those who are already enthusiastic... turning out enthusiastically.

A big turnout in Massachusetts would make me think that a whole bunch of Independents, who ordinarily don't vote in special elections, had motivated themselves to the polls to vote for Scott Brown -- and against Martha "Chokely" Coakley, Harry "Pinky" Reid (D-Caesar's Palace, 70%), and Barack H. "Lucky Lefty" Obama. And as Glenn Thrush at Politico suggests (hat tip to Paul at Power Line), even if part of the increased turnout comprises Democrats, they may very well be Democrats rushing out to vote for Scott Brown:

A Democratic operative familiar with the get-out-the-vote push by Martha Coakley's team and boosted late in the game by the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, says that outreach workers in and around Boston have been stunned by the number of Democrats and Obama supporters who are waving them off, saying they'll vote for Scott Brown.

So even assuming the turnout in Massachusetts is high, that's no reason to despair: It could just be the next pre-wave to the tsunami washing towards the Democrats in November.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, January 19, 2010, at the time of 12:44 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Date ►►► January 18, 2010

Disadvantaged

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From the Politico:

Appearing at a rally at Northeastern University here, President Obama said out-of-power Republicans had taken advantage of the economic crisis to make Democrats the political fall guy during difficult times....

Obama offered his own analysis of the voters’ anger.

“There were going to be some who stood on the sidelines, who were protectors of the big banks, protectors of the big insurance companies, protectors of the big drug companies who were going to say, ‘You know what, we can take advantage of this crisis,’” he told the crowd.

Perhaps my memory fails me in my dotage, but I recall only one person saying his side should take advantage of the economic crisis. Rahm Someone, can't quite bring him to mind; he's been awfully quiet recently.

Wasn't it something about not allowing a good crisis to go to waste?

But I must be mistaken. Surely the President of the United States would never bear false witness against his political opponents!

Not even while staring straight in the face of electoral humiliation in "Massachusettes," America's fifty-seventh state.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, January 18, 2010, at the time of 7:38 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Thinking About the Eminently Thinkable

Hatched by Dafydd

Paul Mirengoff at Power Line has been posting a blogseries on the possibility that Scott Brown might beat Martha "Chokely" Coakley in the special election to fill the Senate seat abruptly vacated by Ted Kennedy; Paul's titles series "Thinking About the Unthinkable;" but to me, the possibility is very, very thinkable, hence my own variation. (Paul's most recent entry is here.)

The Democrats certainly find that result "thinkable;" they're thinking very hard about how to circumvent the expressed will of the voters. Brown is running on the firmly expressed intent to be "the 41st senator" to vote against cloture on the Senate version of ObamaCare; both sides agree that the race has turned into a referendum on that bill, so Brown's pledge will become a mandate if he wins: He will not easily be able to back away from it, even if he wanted. (And there's no evidence he wants to back away.)

So what (the Democrats wail) is to be done? From what I've read they're discussing four distinct responses, only one of which is even slightly viable. Remember, we assume for sake of argument that Scott Brown wins the election; if he doesn't, then everything returns to status quo ante.

The options:

  1. Get all the Democrats in both House and Senate -- and they would need nearly every soul who voted for ObamaCare in the former and every Democrat without exception in the latter -- to come to total agreement today or tomorrow and ram the votes through both chambers before the polls close on Tuesday. Considering how bitterly they have all been wrangling, this is unlikely at best.
  2. Delay seating Brown until after the vote, however long that takes. There is, however, one slight flaw to this tactic: It won't work.

    As several folks have pointed out, the Republicans don't need 41 votes to stop ObamaCare; the Democrats need 60 votes to move it.

    It makes no difference how long "Massachusettes" takes to certify the election; that has no bearing on the vote. The only question is whether the current appointed occupant of that Senate seat, Paul Kirk, can continue to vote after the election... and the law seems fairly clear that he cannot, as Fred Barnes explains in the Weekly Standard.

    Kirk's appointment lasts “until election and qualification of the person duly elected to fill the vacancy;” since both Martha Coakley and Scott Brown meet all the qualifications to be a United States Senator, Kirk's appointment would appear to lapse as soon as the election is over Tuesday night. Certification of the election results is not required; as of Tuesday night, when the polls close, the Democrats will have only 59 votes to move ObamaCare... and that's one short.

  3. Forget ObamaCare and all the "negotiation" between liberal Democrats and liberal Democrats; rework the entire bill from the start, but this time involve the Republicans. Pass those elements that both sides more or less agree upon, and enact truly bipartisan health-insurance reform that the American people can support.

     

     

    Just kidding!

  4. Only one alternative remains, at least that I can see: Get the House Democrats to vote for the Senate bill -- Louisiana Purchase, Kornhusker Kickback, abortion, no public option, and last dirty jot and tittle of it. If the House votes through the Senate bill -- with every section, paragraph, word, and punctuation mark intact -- then it can go straight to Barack H. Obama for signature with no more votes in the Senate, and Scott Brown would be nullified... at least for this particular issue.

But why should the House Democrats enact the Senate bill? There are very substantive differences, as proven by the labyrinthian negotiations between Democrats in the two chambers.

Thought the threat of an ObamaCare failure might move some, quite a few liberals in the House -- along with pro-life Democrats -- might actually prefer no bill at all to the Senate version of ObamaCare. That way, House Democrats can run against the "obstructionist" GOP.

So what could Majority Leader Harry "Pinky" Reid (D-Caesar's Palace, 70%) offer to the liberals and the moderates in the House to induce them to hold their noses and vote for the thoroughly corrupt mulligatawny stew that came out of the Senate negotiations?

The Senate Democrats seem to be promising that if the House Dems go along with the Senate version, then after the bill passes, the Senate will enact whatever revisions the House Democrats demand. In other words, both sides will participate in enacting a fraud, knowing they plan to renegotiate everything (still only among the Democrats!) as soon as the smoke settles. If Reid can scare the House Democrats sufficiently -- half an oaf is better than nothing at all -- the House kvetchers might be willing to put off their feud until after some version of ObamaCare becomes law.

But if that is the path they take, Republicans have a ready-made counterinsurgency strategy: Senate Republicans should announce they will filibuster any "renegotiated" ObamaCare provision, no matter what it is... unless it includes repeal of the insurance mandate and several other poison-pill demands.

What's the point of that? Simply this: Let the House Democrats know that their Senate colleagues may promise corrective bills to ease the sting of passing the Senate version... but they will not be able to deliver. With Sen. Scott Brown denying Democrats the 60th vote for cloture, the Senate GOP can guarantee that the House Democrats won't get any relief from the Senate bill: If the House passes "PinkeyCare," that will be the regime they (and we) must live under.

("Reconciliation" is no option; it only applies to bills or provisions whose primary purpose is to reduce the budget deficit. It cannot be used, for example, to reinstate a public option or to pass the Stupak Amendment. In my opinion, the Senate Parliamentarian, Alan Frumin, would not enter into a conspiracy to subvert his office just to save Reid's hide.)

I believe the pre-emptive announcement of a filibuster would thoroughly undercut any promise that Pinky Reid might make. Therefore, the House Democrats will refuse to go along with him... and the entire ObamaCare edifice might fall to pieces, like the statue of Ozymandias, king of kings, in the Shelly poem of that name.

Stand firm, Republicans; we may yet pull off the rescue of the century!

(Of course, the century is young; maybe we'll stage an even greater rescue some years hence.)

Cross-posted on Hot Air's rogues' gallery...

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, January 18, 2010, at the time of 6:34 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Date ►►► January 17, 2010

Slicing the Globaloney: a Case Study!

Hatched by Dafydd

It's always exhilarating, not to mention educational, to see how real science is made... especially when the conclusion just happens to fit the prevailing global-warming story-board so perfectly! Here's how the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the main "scientific" body pushing anthropogenic global warming (AGW), developed one of their most politically influential, not to mention incendiary conclusions:

1999 -- Fred Pearce, writing for New Scientist, notices a comment by Syed Hasnain, "a little-known Indian scientist then based at Jawaharlal Nehru University in Delhi." Hasnain warned that "climate change will melt most of the Himalayan glaciers by 2035."

1999 -- Pearce interviews Hasnain by phone:

Pearce said: "Hasnain told me then that he was bringing a report containing those numbers to Britain. The report had not been peer reviewed or formally published in a scientific journal and it had no formal status so I reported his work on that basis."

2005 -- Six years after the little squib in New Scientist, the WWF (I think that would be the World Wildlife Fund, not the defunct World Wrestling Federation) picks it up and incorporates it into a political white paper, "an Overview of Glaciers, Glacier Retreat, and Subsequent Impacts in Nepal, India and China." The purpose of this paper is to push AGW theory, and not incidentally, to advertise for contributions to and membership in the WWF:

The report credited Hasnain's 1999 interview with the New Scientist. But it was a campaigning report rather than an academic paper so it was not subjected to any formal scientific review.

2007 -- Another two years pass... and the IPCC finally stumbles across the WWF publication just as the U.N. body is preparing its "benchmark report" on global warming. Impressed by the rigorous science in the recruiting advert for the World Wildlife Fund, the IPCC incorporates the claim directly into the report without troubling to backtrack it or check its provenance.

However, the IPCC does realize that the mere handwaving in the WWF advert might not be quite strong enough as is; so the IPCC punches up the claim just a skosh, to make it sound more, you know, science-y:

When finally published, the IPCC report did give its source as the WWF study but went further, suggesting the likelihood of the glaciers melting was "very high". The IPCC defines this as having a probability of greater than 90%.

The report read: "Glaciers in the Himalaya are receding faster than in any other part of the world and, if the present rate continues, the likelihood of them disappearing by the year 2035 and perhaps sooner is very high if the Earth keeps warming at the current rate."

Thus are great scientific discoveries discovered.

2007-2010 -- There is only one fly in the soup; glaciologists almost immediately note that such a rate of melting is impossible:

Professor Julian Dowdeswell, director of the Scott Polar Research Institute at Cambridge University, said: "Even a small glacier such as the Dokriani glacier is up to 120 metres [394ft] thick. A big one would be several hundred metres thick and tens of kilometres long. The average is 300 metres thick so to melt one even at 5 metres a year would take 60 years. That is a lot faster than anything we are seeing now so the idea of losing it all by 2035 is unrealistically high.”

The risible claim begins to unravel. Under withering criticism by glaciologists, some still proponents of AGCC, the main author of the "glaciers" section of the 2007 IPCC report, Professor Murari Lal, discourses on his qualifications for that critical task:

Lal himself admits he knows little about glaciers. "I am not an expert on glaciers, and I have not visited the region so I have to rely on credible published research. The comments in the WWF report were made by a respected Indian scientist and it was reasonable to assume he knew what he was talking about," he said.

Around this same time, IPCC Chairman Rajendra Pachauri heatedly denounces those scientists who dispute the evaporating-glacier claim as practicing "voodoo science."

But by then, Pearce of New Scientist has already looked into Hasnain's original claims:

"Since [1999] I have obtained a copy [of Hasnain's actual report] and it does not say what Hasnain said. In other words it does not mention 2035 as a date by which any Himalayan glaciers will melt. However, he did make clear that his comments related only to part of the Himalayan glaciers, not the whole massif."

Just a week ago, the IPCC was still refusing to comment on its "massif" blunder. However, Professor Lal says that if the original Indian scientist Hasnain says that he did not base his claim on actual peer-reviewed (or even published) research, Lal will recommend that the claim be "removed from future IPCC assessments."

And thus are great scientific non-discoveries un-discovered! Don't be surprised to see this one simply slip-slide down the memory-hole.

Alas, this scenario appears to be "the norm that proves the rule" at the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. And welcome to the monkey house.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, January 17, 2010, at the time of 12:28 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

B.O. in Boston - a Very Impotent Person

Hatched by Dafydd

I see that Barack H. "Lucky Lefty" Obama is personally headed to "Massachusettes". Does anybody in either hemisphere fail to understand what an admission of looming failure that is?

POTUS and TOTUS are rushing into the Bay State in a desperate, last-ditch effort to stave off electoral disaster. The congressional Democrats may see the election of Republican Scott Brown as God's gift of an exit strategy from ObamaCare, but the president himself has no plausible denial for his campaign frenzy: It's obvious that MA Attorney General Martha "Chokely" Coakley is about to be shellacked like a '73 Ford Pinto at Earl Scheib ("I'll paint any car for ninety-nine ninety five!").

And I say -- good on yer, B.O.! Rush off to Boston to appear at another closed-door fundraiser for Chokely. Make yourself as visible as possible...

Because when Scott Brown wins anyway, you will look like the most impotent tool in America: the Democratic president who couldn't even keep a firm grip on Ted Kennedy's seat (well... you know what I mean).

Have you thought this one through, Mr. O.? Too late to back out now; you'd lose even more face than you're already set to lose on Tuesday.

Am I gloating? Yep. Prematurely? Of course: the vaunted Democratic vote machine might still turn out more committed voters (or voters who should be committed, once you exhume and resurrect them) to squeak out a razor-thin victory for the Choke.

But I have a feeling about this race... and it's a wonderful feeling. Keep watching the skies, jackaroos and jillaroos.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, January 17, 2010, at the time of 1:43 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Date ►►► January 15, 2010

Democracy Inaction

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Could this be the magic "exit strategy" for the Democrats to extract themselves from mounting voter opposition to ObamaCare from all sides? Here is my late-night, bleary-eyed scenario:

  1. The Democrats deliberately drag out discussions on the House-Senate compromise bill.
  2. They hope and pray that Republican Scott Brown beats Democrat Martha Coakley in the Massachusetts senatorial election. (Actually, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee can ensure Coakley's defeat by forcing her to campaign where voters can see her, rather than in smoke-filled rooms with lobbyists.)
  3. Assuming Brown wins, the DSCC could lean hard on Massachusetts election officials to certify the election ASAP; if necessary, a couple of SEIU mafiosi can sit on Coakley's head until certification, to prevent her from trying to sue her way into the U.S. Senate.
  4. After certification and Brown's official seating in the Senate, congressional Democrats quickly finish the bill and submit it to the full Senate.
  5. Scott Brown makes good his threat to vote against cloture, becoming the 41st and determinative vote.
  6. The bill dies, everybody's face is saved -- "We did everything we could! It's those darned Republicans!" -- and Democrats can spend 2010 bemoaning the "obstructionist" GOP, rather than having to defend a government-run health-care scheme that everybody hates, Left and Right alike.

It's a win-win scenario! I wonder if the majority is already considering it?

Puckishly cross-posted on Hot Air's rogues' gallery...

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, January 15, 2010, at the time of 1:04 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Date ►►► January 14, 2010

Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Voters

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Late last year, Big Lizards ran a post, Will B.O. Run for Reelection? - Obamic Options 006, that even we labeled "strange." In response to the title question, we wrote:

I predict that, if the Obamacle ponders the race of 2012 and sees a strong Republican contender and only luckwarm support for himself, he will try to cut a deal with the U.N.; current Secretary General Nanki-Poo would retire with all honors... then the General Assembly offers Obama the job.

(A commenter pointed out that the Secretary General cannot be from one of the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council, the countries that have veto authority; but that only means Barack H. Obama would either have to get the General Assembly to vote an exception to that rule -- easily done, if they want him anyway -- or else he would have to give up the United States' veto in the U.N. I have the terrible feeling he may seek the latter as being more desirable in any event...)

Well, today one of those two criteria eventuated; according to the Allstate/National Journal Heartland Monitor poll, were the election held today, half (50%) of all voters would vote for Obama's opponent. Only 39% say they would vote to reelect the president. On the all-important enthusiasm question, 23% say they would "definitely vote to re-elect Obama," while 37% say they would "definitely vote for someone else."

That is only half the equation, however; even the Obamacle -- who isn't half as smart as half the people sort of half-think he is -- is twice as smart as necessary to know that even a less than popular president can be reelected if he's up against a scary ideologue or a clodhopper. As yet, there is no real front-runner for the Republican nomination for 2012; so we have no clue whether Obama will face a powerful opponent or luck out with an easily dismissed Barry Goldwater or Blob Dole.

(The other extreme, Obama being crushed by a Ronald Reagan, is virtually impossible; if such a potential candidate existed, we would already know about him or her. Reagan himself didn't spring like Athena out of Zeus's brow; he was one of America's best-known political figures on "la rive droite" ever since 1964.)

The poll seems fairly mainstream on other questions, so I take it seriously. For example, among respondents, 38% voted for Barack Obama in 2008, while 33% voted for John McCain. Dropping all other options, this works out to 53.5% for B.O. and 46.5% for J.M. -- virtually identical to the actual vote of 52.9% to 45.7%. Similarly, the self-reported political breakdown among respondents ("generally speaking, do you think of yourself as a Republican, a Democrat, an Independent, or something else?") is 25%, 30%, 30%, which is probably right in line with the country. Other answers show a significant drop in support for Obama and his policies over the past year, mirroring other national polls.

The poll is not some weird outlier.

If the One We Have Been Itching to Rethink isn't looking over his shoulder and starting to sweat, then he's even more of a monster of vanity, ego, and narcissism than I thought -- which would be saying quite a mouthful.

Cross-posted on Hot Air's rogues' gallery...

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, January 14, 2010, at the time of 3:53 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Date ►►► January 13, 2010

Courting Intimidation: the Supremes Sing Out

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A fast follow-up to the second of our two previous "Courting Intimidation" pieces:

In the second post linked above, we predicted that the Supreme Court was poised to make permanent its temporary ban on the cameras set to record all the proceedings in Kristin M. Perry v. Arnold Schwarzenegger (Perry v. Schwarzenegger); that is the federal case filed to (once again) overturn the repeated vote of Californios to define marriage in the traditional way, most recently in Proposition 8, which easily passed on November 4th, 2008.

We argued that the only purpose and result of the video broadcasting on YouTube would be to make all the pro-traditional-marriage witnesses easier targets for harassment, intimidation, vandalism, and assault, with an eventual eye towards terrorizing the "designated defendants" into fleeing the case, thus allowing those pushing same-sex marriage to win by default.

Today, we read this:

The Supreme Court voted 5-4 to block the broadcast of a federal trial in California testing whether a voter initiative against gay marriage violates the Constitution.

The high court's five conservatives formed the majority. They said federal judge Vaughan Walker didn't follow court rules when he ordered proceedings broadcast by closed circuit to federal courthouses in several cities.

The Supreme Court's four liberals joined a dissent written by Justice Stephen Breyer.

For the record, that would be Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Antonin Scalia, Anthony Kennedy, Clarence Thomas, and Samuel Alito in the majority; Justices John Paul Stevens, Ruth Bader Ginsberg, Stephen Breyer, and Sonia Sotomayor dissenting.

Not only was our prediction correct, so too was our reasoning:

The proposition's defenders said broadcasting the proceedings could expose witnesses favoring the gay-marriage ban to harassment and ridicule. The Supreme Court majority backed that view, saying Proposition 8 supporters would likely suffer "irreparable harm" if the proceedings were shown through the closed-circuit feed.

The Court did not rule on the question of putting videos up on YouTube, saying the motion was "premature." They want to wait until the Ninth Circus rules on that first, but I suspect the same actors will line up in the same order if necessary.

We repeat our main predictions:

  1. U.S. District Court Judge Vaughn Walker (Bush-41) will certainly rule in favor of the plaintiffs, striking down Proposition 8, the citizens initiative constitutional amendment that restored the original definition of marriage. He has signalled over and over that he has already made up his mind, and the actual hearing is merely a show trial, a necessary evil before he can rule by decree.
  2. The three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals will uphold Judge Walker's ruling.

    (2a) Judge Stephen Reinhardt will wind up on that panel and will write the majority opinion affirming Walker's ruling. (Yes, this one is specifically for Patterico!)
  3. If there is an en-banc hearing, the entire Ninth Circus will narrowly uphold the panel's decision upholding Walker's decree that voters in California have no right to enact state constitutional amendments that the Left doesn't like.
  4. The Supreme Court will accept certiorari on the case... and by the same 5-4 vote (though either Stevens or Ginsberg might by then be replaced by another doctrinaire liberal) will overturn the Ninth's ruling, restoring traditional marriage to California.
  5. Finally, this time there will be a stay on each ruling until the USSC makes its final ruling, so no more same-sex couples will be fortunate enough to slip through the cracks and get married.

We'll see how well we do. I believe that in the end, we'll have a Supreme Court ruling that nothing in the U.S. Constitution mandates same-sex marriage.

Keep watching the skies.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, January 13, 2010, at the time of 5:35 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

He Said, She Said

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Submitted without (much) comment...

From the Washington Times:

"That is the stupidest thing I've been asked in a long time. That is insane, the suggestion could only come from a demented right wing source," erupted Representative Barney Frank (D - MA), when asked by The Washington Times about what he thought of assertions that Massachusetts Democrats would stall the certification process should Mr. Brown win. "There isn't the slightest possibility of it happening---a way of doing it. That is conspiracy theory at its most contemptible."

From Breitbart:

Massachusetts's top election official says it could take weeks to certify the results of the upcoming U.S. Senate special election. That delay could let President Barack Obama preserve a key 60th vote for his health care overhaul even if the Republican who has vowed to kill it wins Democrat Edward M. Kennedy's former seat.

Secretary of State William F. Galvin, citing state law, says city and town clerks must wait at least 10 days for absentee ballots to arrive before they certify the results of the Jan. 19 election. They then have five more days to file the returns with his office.

Galvin bypassed the provision in 2007 so his fellow Democrats could gain a House vote they needed to override a veto of then-Republican President George W. Bush, but the secretary says U.S. Senate rules would preclude a similar rush today.

So Democrat William Galvin, Massachusetts' secretary of state, is actually a "demented right wing source," according to Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA, 100%). Who'd'a thunk it?

To paraphrase Mayor Richard J. Daley of (where else?) Chicago, the Democrats are not here to create disenfranchisement... they're here to preserve disenfranchisement!

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, January 13, 2010, at the time of 2:57 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

"Stonewall" Holder and Barack Milhous Obama

Hatched by Dafydd

In our previous episode, top politicos in the Ministry of Truth -- I'm sorry, I meant the Department of Justice -- were stonewalling requests by the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights (CRC) for documents and testimony to determine why Associate Attorney General Thomas Perrelli ordered career attorneys Christopher Coates and Christian Adams to drop the voter-intimidation case against the New Black Panther Party (NBPP)... even though the government had already won the case by default. The NBPP never responded to the lawsuit, but possibly it had already been assured that it had a guardian angel in the Bobby Kennedy Building.

The Commission finally got so frustrated by the complete lack of cooperation by the Civil Rights Division of the DoJ that it fired off subpoenas, demanding answers to four dozen questions and the documents to support those answers. But Justice continued to waffle, finding one excuse after another not to produce any paperwork or even respond directly. At the same time, in a burst of petulance, the nomenklatura at Justice banished Coates himself to the far-away country of North Carolina.

Thank goodness we now have an incorruptable president and attorney general who would never, ever politicize the Department of Justice.

But that was then; this is now, and at last, la Casa Blanca has formally responded: All the president's men categorically reject the insolent idea that the Executive has to answer to anyone at all... not even to the congressional commission charged under statute (the Civil Rights Act of 1957) with the mission "To investigate complaints alleging that citizens are being deprived of their right to vote by reason of their race, color, religion, sex, age, disability, or national origin, or by reason of fraudulent practices":

The Justice Department refused Tuesday to turn over most of the information and documents sought by the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights explaining why a civil complaint was dismissed against members of the New Black Panther Party who disrupted a Philadelphia polling place in the November 2008 elections.

In a 38-page response, the department objected -- except for a few court records, letters and procedural documents -- to "each and every" question and document request submitted by the commission, saying the subpoenas violated existing executive orders, privacy and privilege concerns, and were burdensome, vague and ambiguous.

The lengthy response, a copy of which was obtained by The Washington Times, also said the requested information and documents were protected by the attorney-client privilege or were not subject to disclosure because they included attorney or law enforcement work products.

The department also refused to release any information about an investigation of the New Black Panther Party case by its office of professional responsibility, saying the ongoing review was privileged information or was covered by the Privacy Act.

To slice it down to the bone, Attorney General Eric Holder is telling Congress to go flap somewhere else.

Now I would heartily agree with such a sentiment -- were we talking about senators and representatives horning in on foreign policy or the president's warfighting powers. The Constitution leaves those up to the Executive, by and large. But this isn't a case of national security: I scent the strong, smoky whiff of collusion and corruption in ObamaLand: The White House is covering up its own complicity; it should be declared an unindicted co-conspirator in voter intimidation alongside the NBPP.

My personal belief is that Holder (to a very large extent) and Barack H. Obama (to a somewhat lesser) actively support the Black Panthers' program of intimidating and frightening elderly white voters away from the polls. Why would Democrats in general support such a scheme? That's easy; they believe race-war is the health of the party.

They know that blacks will vote 95% for the Democrats, but they're pretty sure that white senior citizens, businessmen, and military veterans will vote strongly for the GOP. So the Democrats have decided it's in their interest to suppress the latter votes "by any means necessary," even buddying up with a racist organization such as the NBPP or ACORN -- or openly discarding military ballots during the election, as we saw in 2000.

Sidebar: One of the Democrats' most narcissistic crimes against America is the ruination of the word "racism" via tendentious redefinition; the term is now so tainted by false accusation and political manipulation that the word itself has lost all meaning. If George Orwell is right, when the word goes, the concept itself soon follows into oblivion. Now that "racism" means nothing, I wonder what word we can use tomorrow to describe the Klan, skinhead "Nazis," and what was done to James Byrd, jr.?

Some, like Michael Barone, argue that Republicans need a positive plan for action in 2010, not just their status as "not the Democrats." Others (e.g. Paul Mirengoff of Power Line) believe a "contract with America"-type agenda might just get in the way, turning off Independents and moderate Republicans who may disagree with conservatives about important elements.

But virtually everybody would agree that campaigning against corruption and thuggishness -- clearly defined, undeniable, inexcusable, and squalid -- has nothing but upside for the GOP. After all, liberal Democrats have already painted themselves into a hole; they have preened with unendurable pomposity and condescension, congratulating themselves on their own superior moral code, for three years now; and that's long enough to own their own policies.

Now hypocrisy -- that seemingly venial sin that Americans hate almost worse than murder, treachery, and treason -- looms over the incumbents' heads like the Sword of Damocles.

Let's find a pair of scissors sharp enough to slice a strand of horsehair. This particular sword is two-edged; but in this case, both edges cut against the supermajority.

Cross-posted on Hot Air's rogues' gallery...

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, January 13, 2010, at the time of 2:39 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Date ►►► January 12, 2010

Courting Intimidation: Supremes May Shut Down Cameras in SSM Case

Hatched by Dafydd

In the long-running soap opera "As the Marital Definition Turns" -- that is, the case underway in federal court in San Francisco, where plaintiffs are trying to overturn the initiative constitutional amendment Proposition 8 that re-re-established traditional marriage in America's biggest state -- I reported a couple of days ago that the judge in the case, U.S. District Court Judge Vaughn Walker (Bush-41), had decided that it would be just dandy to have cameras rolling all through the trial, so videos of the pro-traditional-marriage witnesses could be circulated on YouTube... probably as "wanted" posters.

Given the Left's recent history, I concluded that the most likely outcome would be a vicious cycle of witness intimidation that might even cause the "designated defendants" to drop out of the case (as one, Hak-Shing William Tam, is already petitioning to do). Since both Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and California Attorney General (and former governor) Jerry Brown refused to defend the amendment, despite it having been enacted by a clear majority of California voters, the proponents of Prop. 8 were forced to ask the court to allow them to defend it. Otherwise, the enemies of the proposition, proponents of same-sex marriage (SSM), would simply win the case and overturn the will of the people by default.

That still could happen, if all the designated defendants are driven out. But that's a little less likely now, for the United States Supreme Court stepped in with an emergency order to prevent the cameras from being turned on. The order lasts only until tomorrow at 4:00 pm court-time; but clearly the Court intends to issue a final ruling on a permanent injunction before then:

The Supreme Court on Monday temporarily blocked a federal judge's decision to allow cameras in the courtroom during the trial on the constitutionality of California's same-sex-marriage ban.

The court's order will remain in effect until 4 p.m. on Wednesday to allow the justices more time to consider the issue. That means the Perry v. Schwarzenegger trial, which began Monday, will have proceeded for three days without being broadcast or videostreamed to news outlets and Web sites such as YouTube.

The only justice objecting to the temporary order was Stephen Breyer, one of the most activist of the left-liberal justices. To me, that's a good sign.

I have high hopes that at least five justices will see the obvious danger of witness inimidation, harassment, vandalism of property, or even physical assault -- given the history I alluded to earlier -- and rule that the experiment of televising federal court cases should not commence with such a contentious issue, about which so many people have such strong, even hysterical positions. Without cameras, the trial should proceed as expected -- to an obviously pre-ordained victory for the plaintiffs; Judge Walker has made his own pro-SSM activism quite clear.

Then we can have the inevitable appeal to a three-judge panel of the Ninth Circus, to an en banc hearing of the entire Ninth, and ultimately to the USSC.

As usual, I expect the camera order -- and the final case, whenever that gets to the Court -- will hinge how Justice Anthony Kennedy feels that day. Let's hope he doesn't have a bad bout of indigestion when it comes time to vote.

Fingers crossed...

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, January 12, 2010, at the time of 1:18 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Why I Am Not a Racist. No, Really.

Hatched by Dafydd

I am unreliably informed that everybody is a racist. This is, of course, a load of ferret kidneys.

To be a racist, one must, at the very least, believe in the concept of race -- where "race" means some discrete and self-perpetuating subgroup of humans, defined by skin color and a certain morphology, but that also affects behavior and (some argue) thought itself. Anybody who accuses (e.g.) Clarence Thomas of "acting white" passionately believes in race-determinism.

This seems accurate to most people; but I simply don't believe in different "races" of Man: The morphology is inconsistent and its connection with behavior and thought is utterly spurious. What most folks imagine to be "racial" is in fact cultural... and I most certainly believe in different and often belligerent subcultures of Mankind.

But -- the critical difference -- while race is determined by birth, one's culture is, in the final analysis, consciously chosen... however much it may be influenced by upbringing.

We know that culture (a.k.a., subculture) is not determined by upbringing, because children of identical upbringing often embrace completely different cultures. There is no corner of the globe (does a sphere have corners?) so remote that it does not provide access to more than one culture. Even the most repressive third-world neighborhood, imbued in Islamism or animism or cannibalism or human sacrifice, cannot help but admit American Borg culture (A.B.C. -- "Resistance is futile!") -- from Tinkerbell t-shirts to Coca-Cola to McDonalds to reruns of Baywatch.

I doubt there's even a single country, region, province, or village that doesn't provide (if unwillingly) access to more than two cultures... perhaps Fundamental Materialist Euroculture or Catholocism or Baha'i or something spawned by historical colonialism, in addition to A.B.C.; so most people have their choice of three or more cultures to choose from, once they're old enough to notice the difference. Whichever they embrace is, by definition, their conscious choice.

Where am I going with this? Whenever options are available, choice is unavoidable: Of necessity, each adolescent must choose between all available cultureal options. That choice defines the path the individual takes... nothing cultural is carved in stone nor genetically determined.

There's that pesky word, individual. It crops up whenever we discuss thought, behavior, responsibility, accountability, liberty, conscience, and ultimately behavior. Simply put, we cannot foist upon others, or upon the impersonal Fates, accountability for our own behavior.

If Hutus slaughter Tutsis in Rwanda (or vice-versa), they cannot excuse their behavior by saying "that's the culture I was brought up in;" because many others brought up in that same culture did not participate in the attempted genocides on both sides and even tried to stop them. Just as a majority of those raised in Compton or Harlem or East L.A. or East St. Louis do not join gangs, do not engage in random violence, do not assault, rape, or murder innocents.

For those who do, their crimes are their own; they cannot blame "society."

In fact, all of the heresies of civilization, from socialism to racism to tribalism, stem from the same original sin: collectivism. The only way to sustain such cultures of hatred is to dehumanize outsiders; but to dehumanize, it's almost a logical necessity to view each human being not as an individual, not as a cardinal number, but as an ordinal number -- a representative of an entire class.

Thus, Barack H. Obama is not a man with his own strengths and weaknesses, his own ideals and blind spots, but simply "the first black president," or "a leftist" or "the One We Have Been Waiting For." George W. Bush is simply "the son of the 41st president" or "a Texan" or "a conservative warmonger."

When you insist, against all odds, on seeing each person as an individual, not as a cog in a giant collective, then "race" dissipates like morning fog in the noonday sun; the morphologies that define each race are seen as points on a continuum that are interesting to a painter, perhaps, but are orthogonal (at right angles) to all that which makes a man or woman. I'm a pale-skinned white; my wife Sachi is a dark-tinged Oriental; yet we share an intense and dispositive worldview linking us like the strong nuclear force, far more tightly than could possibly be parted by mere melanin level.

Thus I disbelieve in the concept of "race."

Ergo, by rigorous logic, I cannot be a "racist." Asking me what race I am is like asking whether I'm a good Martian or a bad Martian: The only valid response is, "will U. kindly F.O.?"

Cross-posted on Hot Air's rogues' gallery...

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, January 12, 2010, at the time of 3:29 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Date ►►► January 9, 2010

Courting Intimidation of Witnesses: the SEIU-ization of Liberalism

Hatched by Dafydd

A trial starts Monday in San Francisco that could overturn the will of the people in 45 of the 50 states; U.S. District Court Judge Vaughn Walker (Bush-41) will preside over a federal court case that seeks to overturn Proposition 8 in California -- the state initiative constitutional amendment that itself overturned a California Supreme Court ruling foisting same-sex marriage (SSM) on America's biggest state.

And Walker is stacking the deck: He has already ruled that the trial will be videoed and the videos put up on YouTube, so that radicals will know who to assault. And now, one of the "designated defendants" supporting Proposition 8, Hak-Shing William Tam, is asking to be released from the case, saying he's already suffered death threats and harassment, vandalism, intimidation, and threats to his family:

On Friday, Tam told the court that he was harassed and his property vandalized during the campaign, and feared similar retribution if he continued to represent gay marriage foes' interest in the lawsuit and trial, which is scheduled to start Monday in San Francisco.

''In the past I have received threats on my life, had my property vandalized and am recognized on the streets due to my association with Proposition 8,'' Tam said in a court filing. ''Now that the subject lawsuit is going to trial, I fear I will get more publicity, be more recognizable and that the risk of harm to me and my family will increase.''

Say... if they can just succeed in pushing out the other four designated defendants the same way, the defense will collapse for lack of a defendant, and SSM wins by default! (You don't think this could be, you know, the strategy... do you?)

The forces of liberalism have already done some deck-stacking of their own: When the case was first filed by a couple of SSM activists, both California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Attorney General Jerry Brown (the former governor) declined even to defend the state's law, passed with a clear majority by the citizens of California. Both men are strong supporters of SSM; so I can only conclude they were hoping that by refusing to defend the case, SSM would be ushered into California law regardless of what the so-called "people" want.

As H.L. Mencken is reputed to have said -- or written -- or thought up -- or wished he had thought up -- "If the government doesn't trust the people, why doesn't it dissolve them and elect a new people?"

Schwarzenegger is a particular disappointment. A couple of years ago, after Proposition 22 (defining marriage to be between a man and a woman) had passed overwhelmingly, the radical-Left California state legislature passed a same-sex marriage bill anyway -- essentially telling voters to take a long walk off Fisherman's Wharf. At that time, Gov. Schwarzenegger vetoed the measure, saying that, while he personally supports SSM (he's a Hollywood conservative, recall), the people had indeed spoken.

Now he tries an end-run around those same people's vote, this time on a state constitutional amendment. Perhaps he got tired of sleeping on the couch.

The liberal elites on the California Supreme Court overturned Prop. 22 (In re Marriage Cases (2008) 43 Cal.4th 757), mandating SSM; and the court ordered it to begin almost immediately, even though Prop. 8, which would make traditional marriage part of the California state constitution, was already on the ballot and seemed likely to pass. The justices must have known the chaos that would (and did!) ensue; evidently radical liberalism triumphed over stability and voters' respect for their civic institutions, as the majority flung both in the dustbin.

Prop. 8 won, of course; but not before some 18,000 same-sex couples were legally married. In May, the California Supreme Court held Prop. 8 to be a valid constitutional amendment; but it also held that those same-sex marriages performed during the brief "window" that the court itself deliberately created were likewise valid.

Monday's lawsuit is a liberal attempt to revive the failed lawsuit against Prop. 8 by refiling it in federal court; evidently the theory is that California's constitution -- which explicitly bans discrimination on the basis of sexual preference -- is no barrier to the people defining marriage in the traditional way... yet the federal Constitution, with not even a mention of sexual preference, nevertheless mandates SSM for every state!

I suppose it makes sense to the Left. And it especially makes sense with Walker's decision about YouTube videos: A new strategy of harassment and intimidation is added to the arrows in the quiver of those who despise traditional marriage as hopelessly Mediaeval.

We've all seen how other liberal shills, such as the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), "persuade" conservatives to abandon their arguments; remember the video of SEIU thugs beating black conservative Kenneth Gladney last August at a town-hall meeting in South St. Louis County, Missouri?

Gay activists have already demonstrated their eagerness to “punch back twice as hard” against conservatives, as Barack H. Obama's deputy chief of staff, Jim Messina, exhorted a few days before Gladney's beating. As Big Lizards reported in October, activists in Washington state have resorted to trying to publish all the names of the ordinary voters who signed a petition against SSM -- painting them all as bigots, Christians, and homophobes, and of course setting them up for harassment, intimidation, or worse:

But here is where things get creepy: In response to the petition that put Referendum 71 on the ballot, gay activists have become obsessed with "outing" everybody who signed it -- publicly printing not just their names but their addresses as well. They even wanted to put all the personal information on the internet, so it would easily be searchable by anybody who suspected his neighbor might be insufficiently tolerant.

Activists claim they are only trying to exercise the state's "public records disclosure law;" but it's hard not to come away with the sick feeling that SSM proponents are hoping that friends and neighbors of the petition signers will punish them for their apostasy, especially if they live in a liberal (or gay) neighborhood. That is, I believe the legal fight to release the signers' names and addresses is a transparent attempt to intimidate and frighten them into not signing any future petitions.

How many witnesses will be eager to expose themselves as targets for radical gay-rights activists? How many would have their lives turned upside down, their employers called with bogus complaints, their children threatened and perhaps beaten-up in school... and at the very least, how many will suffer humiliation as their religious and political beliefs are "explored" in court -- by professional mockers and denigrators?

In the months leading up the trial, lawyers for two unmarried same-sex couples on whose behalf the case was brought complained that Proposition 8's sponsors were withholding evidence to which the plaintiffs were entitled by citing a letter they had uncovered written by Tam to members of his church during the campaign.

In the letter, Tam outlined what he described as the disastrous consequences for allowing gays to marry in California.

''One by one, other states would fall into Satan's hands,'' he wrote. ''Every child, when growing up, would fantasize marrying someone of the same sex. More children would become homosexuals.''

The contents could come up in the trial because one of the issues is whether the measure's backers were motivated by anti-gay bias.

Tam's personal religious beliefs are quite mainstream among conservative Christians; and in any event, they are utterly irrelevant to the case: The initiative was passed by literally millions of voters, not personally by Mr. Tam. Yet the liberals at the Associated Press implicitly identify those beliefs with "anti-gay bias," and want the entire amendment overturned because at least one of its authors was a -- a Christian.

The Left holds up Hak-Shing William Tam as the poster-boy of wacko, far-right, homophobic, bigotted Christianity; and come Monday morn, anybody who missed that characterization in the New York Times and the scores of other newspapers that take AP's feed can watch, via YouTube, the plaintiffs call him all those names to his face.

Gee, I wonder why he now wants out? And what a wonderful way to hold an unbiased trial.

I'm sure Judge Walker will "kindly" let Tam out of the lawsuit; and with that example, I'm sure the pressure on the other four designated defendants will mount. In the liberal utopia, they too would all cave... and the radical-gay agenda to destroy marriage would win by intimidation... which appears to be the liberals' favored means anyway.

(Like Professor Fate in the Great Race, they're not interested in winning our way, by persuading voters; they want to win their way, by dirty, mean, underhanded tactics. I think it gives them an extra frisson of pleasure to know that they scared us into silence. Makes 'em feel powerful.)

I hope the other four defendants have more guts than Mr. Tam. I would be happy to volunteer, but I live outside that court's jurisdiction.

Besides, while Judge Walker will doubtless be pleased to allow any defendant who quakes in his boots to leave the case, I doubt he would be interested in allowing anybody more steadfast to join it: That doesn't fit the storyboard of "rats fleeing the sinking ship" that he evidently wants to tell.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, January 9, 2010, at the time of 10:40 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Date ►►► January 8, 2010

ObamaCareGate?

Hatched by Dafydd

Now we know why some prominent economists came out swinging so strongly for ObamaCare, notwithstanding its economic stupidity:

MIT economist Jonathan Gruber, one of the leading academic defenders of health care reform, is taking heat for failing to disclose consistently that he was under contract with the Department of Health and Human Services while he was touting the Democrats' health proposals in the media.

Gruber, according to federal government documents, is under a $297,600 contract until next month to provide "technical assistance" in evaluating health care reform proposals. He was under a $95,000 HHS contract before that.

But while he was being paid to provide his services to HHS, he was also fending off health care reform critics in the media. Gruber was one of the prominent analysts to rebut an insurance industry report from PricewaterhouseCoopers in October saying premiums would shoot up if a health care bill passes. And he has recently written columns defending specific provisions in the House and Senate bills, particularly the "Cadillac tax" on high-cost insurance plans.

...Funnily enough, it's the Left that began the firestorm of attacks on Sneaky Gruber, though I'm sure the rest of us will climb aboard that crazy train pretty soon:

"I have never seen it disclosed that he was a paid consultant to the Obama administration," a blogger for Firedoglake wrote Friday morning. "For months I have been angry with Gruber because I thought he was simply an exaggerator whose dangerous love of the spotlight was hurting the efforts of progressives to make sure the Senate bill adopted more progressive cost control solutions. ... Now it is clear something much more sinister was at play."

The Daily Kos declared that, given Gruber's contract, the "fix was in" for the Cadillac plan.

But that's all right; Gruber insists that his dogged defense of ObamaCare has "nothing to do" with the nearly $400,000 HHS paid him. After all, all of his comments, e-mails, editorials, and other advocacy activities "have been done on my own time."

So he's an independent-contractor shill.

Gruber notes in his defense that he told reporters about his payoffs "whenever they asked." If it didn't occur to them to ask whether he was secretly being supported by the very administation he was cheerleading -- hey, that's not Gruber's fault!

So Gruber gets greased, then Gruber becomes an ObamaCare enthusiast; I am inexplicably reminded of Sens. Mary Landrieu (D-LA, 65%) and Ben Nelson (D-NE, 75%).

It does tell us something, does it not, that the signature issue of the Obamic administration, nationalized health care, can only be advanced by out and out bribery -- of congressmen, of economists, and of sundry voting constituencies (AARP, the AMA, unions, and suchlike). But isn't that true for every issue of the Obamic administration, from Cripple and Tax to Card Check to globaloney to collateral stimulation of the economy -- or at least those portions of it run by Obamunist BFFs like Big Labor, Big Hollywood, and Big Soros?

One hopes the American people will use their votes more wisely this November and again in 2012. Perhaps the only benefit arising from the election of Barack H. Obama is the clarity he inadvertently brings to the dangers of electoral dice-rolling.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, January 8, 2010, at the time of 2:31 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Obama's Jobless Relapse

Hatched by Dafydd

Let's see...

The economy is rocky; so the Obama Administration responds by:

  • Pouring hundreds of billions of dollars down the rathole of "stimulus," funneling most of it to well-heeled political cronies, ficticious accounts, and radical organizations;
  • Forcing banks, financial institutions, and huge corporations to accept "bailouts" -- accompanied by nationalization;
  • Piling on hundreds of new, hideously expensive government programs whose primary purpose is to buy Democratic votes by paying off special-interest groups;
  • Taking over health care, looting Medicare, and engineering a socialist system, as near as makes no difference -- one that costs about $2.5 trillion that we don't have;
  • Taxing the energy industry to death, making it so expensive to generate power that we just stop doing do, to prop up a dubious, unscientific thesis that has been all but disproven already;
  • Pushing Unionization über Alles, regardless of how that affects job creation;
  • Jacking up all other taxes, particularly on various despised industries and on the hated "rich," but with a good, healthy wallop at ordinary Americans across the country;
  • Issuing -- without industry input but with the connivance of a murder of wacko, anti-capitalist groups -- a labyrinth of new, untested, and incomprehensible regulations for businesses to follow or be slaughtered by;
  • And warning America that Barack H. Obama knows what more it really needs -- and he's going to give it to us, good and hard, in 2010! (Including throwing open the immigration floodgates, tearing down the wall, and heavily favoring those immigrants least likely to assimilate and become productive workers, rather than welfare hunters.)

And now the administration is shocked, shocked that unemployment remains at 10%; that real unemployment -- unemployment plus underemployment plus discouraged workers who have quit looking for jobs -- rises to 17.3%; that the deficit skyrockets by trillions of dollars; that other countries (read: Fascist China) are increasingly reluctant to lend more to a bad-risk borrower -- say, too bad there's no extraterrestrial Fannie Mae to buy our toxic asshats! -- and that every economic indicator is headed further south.

Welcome to Econ. 101.

The first principle of Obamunism appears to be "more, harder, faster!" It's almost as if Obama has accepted that he will be a one-termer, and that he'll lose most (or all) of his Democratic majority in November; so he wants to ram through as much radical leftism as possible before he becomes a lame duck next January. Maybe we can reach a tipping point where even a Republican takeover in 2010 and a President Mitt Romney in 2012 can't stop America's slide into ACORNism...

It's no wonder he's such pals with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Oogo Chavez, Mel Zelaya, and los bros Castro: birds of a feather, you know. Let's hope we can clip his wings -- before he flocks us all.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, January 8, 2010, at the time of 12:05 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Date ►►► January 7, 2010

Voting Rights for Felons: Presto Retro!

Hatched by Dafydd

Patterico has posted on this topic as well -- the three-judge panel of the Ninth Circus that just ruled that felons must be allowed to vote, even from their prison cells. He posts from a lawyer's, and especially a prosecutor's point of view; and in his post, he dressed me down a bit for my previous post here... or so it seemed to me. Patterico writes:

Dafydd ab Hugh’s post on the decision sounds the right notes, I think. However, Dafydd has not read the decision or the studies upon which it is based, and so he has failed to grapple with the claims of the sociology professors who claim to have looked at the very variables Dafydd accuses the court of ignoring.

I would like to encourage Dafydd and any other interested readers to poke through the links I have provided. There are nuggets a plenty in the various studies and other links.

My response may be solitary, poor, nasty, and brutish; but at least it's not short!

The first charge is certainly correct; at the time I wrote the post, I didn't have the decision available to me. I couldn't even find the name of the the third judge (turns out to be Stephen Reinhardt, a name not unknown to many of us).

But to say I have "failed to grapple with the claims of the sociology professors who claim to have looked at the very variables Dafydd accuses the court of ignoring" is only true in the narrowest of meanings: While I didn't grapple with these particular studies by those particular sociology professors, I have been "grappling" with identical claims by interchangeable sociology and criminology professors for more than twenty years!

I wasn't born on the turnip truck yesterday.

And I've learned it's a complete waste of time, because the studies they produce are just a beard for the real function, which is to find a friendly judge or panel, as they did here, and give them any slightest hook to hang their ideology... which they also did. Professors Crutchfield and Beckett could have introduced a wind-up monkey with a plastic banana as their sole exhibit, and Judges Stephen Reinhardt and Wallace Tashima would have given in to their inner guilt and ruled the same way. We were preaching reason to the asylum choir.

The fact is that none of these claims is new. Each has been made, then debunked, in one form or another, in service to one crank liberal "reform" or another, since the dawn of all time (that is, the 1960s): that a racial disparity in measurement X -- incarceration, conviction, trial, arrest, or search -- proves unlawful and intentional racial discrimination by some or all elements of the justice system.

In the very beginning, the anointed were content to point to any racial disparity at all. When evidence mounted far past the "overwhelming" stage that, contrary to liberal dogma and utopianism, people from different cultures do indeed commit crimes at different rates, the anointed realized they had to give some ground.

Ever since the 1980s, when I first began debating this issue in bulletin boards (anybody remember those?), the pro-reform side of academe has followed the same pattern:

  1. The new researchers cite previous researchers who found no discrimination -- and dismiss them as naive or bought off.
  2. The new researchers admit that some of the racial disparity can be explained by real differences in behavior... that is, not by direct racial discrimination; this makes them look reasonable and sets you up for the Fool's Mate.
  3. But, they argue, not all the discrepency can thus be explained (to their unattainable satisfaction) by proper and legal responses to real differences.
  4. Therefore, they conclude, the remaining "gap" must be due to racial discrimination. There's no other explanation, at least none they will consider.

It's very effective, particularly on kritarchs drunk on their own power, just itching for a chance to implement divine judicial controls, enforcing radical liberalism.

I didn't have access to the particulars of this specific batch of anointed; but even if I had, I still wouldn't have bothered "grappling" with their precise claims, because that's not the problem. And my reasoning is almost certainly similar to that of the state's attorneys, and why they didn't go into the specifics of the studies, either: At core, this case hinges on principles completely independent from choosing one of two competing answers to a controversial and active scientific question.

Diving headfirst into the steaming vat of statistics is a mug's game, because it begs the real question. There is literally nothing anyone could say, no evidence that could be produced, that would persuade the plaintiffs that policing and the courts were not citidels of segregation and redoubts of racism: It is part of their fundamental-materialist religious faith.

When setting public policy on vital democratic issues related to scientific questions (hello, global warming), there are always three considerations -- threshold conditions, actually; and none covers what I think Patterico suggested I should have done:

  1. Is the science settled? E.g., is there a scientific consensus among criminologists and sociologists that the criminal justice system in Washington is inherently racially discriminatory, violating the rights of legitimate voters?
  2. If so, then what options exist to alleviate the problem? In this case, what can Washington do to bring itself into compliance with federal standards and its own state standards of racial neutrality?
  3. Finally, among all those options, which is the least disruptive to liberty, social order, and the will of the people? In this case, if people are being wrongfully disenfranchised, what is the least disruptive way to let the actual victims start voting again?

(Sorry for all the bullet points, but some arguments really lend themselves to such constructs.)

Alas, I don't think there is a very good match between the questions above, which should inform all major policy decisions, and the demands of a federal court trial, which is an adversarial exercise in which one side generally wins and the other loses. That's too bad... because in fact, not a single one of the three threshold conditions above is satisfied (and all three need to be). Moreover, when the thresholds are not met, the judiciary has no business interfering in public policy... even apart from any great principles of freedom that trump the scientific quibbling.

Now, if a particular prisoner wants to argue that his personal voting rights were violated, let him make that claim and duke it out in court. That would at least be a judicial task.

But instead, the question that the court considered (and ruled in favor of) was grotesquely anti-democratic, collectivist, and, to put it bluntly, profoundly unAmerican: Not whether the voting right of any particular prisoner was violated, but whether the rights of all blacks and Hispanics in Washington state were violated.

And the substance of the "right"? Why, the right to have the votes of all blacks and Hispanics, law-abiding and convicted felon alike, count for the Democrats. I won't mince words; the liberal-activist Democrats want more electoral victories, and they think this will do it.

It's the Lani Guinier Conundrum: Does a bloc of voters have the right to win a certain percent of the time? In 1993, Bill Clinton nominated Guinier to be Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights. Her nomination ran into a buzzsaw in the Senate and was eventually withdrawn.

She believed that indeed yes, blocs of minority voters -- specifically blacks and Hispanics -- had a right to win, even when they were in the minority; otherwise you have a "tyranny of the majority," she argued in the book of that title. (The hidden racist assumption is that all "minorities" think alike... or at least they should!) Thus, Guinier supported various weighting schemes to make each minority vote count for more than each of the votes of the majority. (She had to have assumed, again, that each class would vote its "class interest.")

I'm convinced that is precisely why the present case was brought: Not that the plaintiffs really cared that felons be allowed to vote, but that they assumed that a big, new bunch of black and Hispanic voters previously disallowed from voting would, when finally unleashed, vote solidly liberal-Democratic.

(Patterico notes another point: Many prisons are sited in rural areas, not in the midst of huge population centers, for obvious reasons. Thus, that "captive audience" of voters would exert a super-heavy, possibly determinative influence over local elections about local issues. In my opinion, they could practically take over small towns!)

I haven't forgotten the three questions above; we'll get back to them. But we're still dealing with the fundamental principles, and why the specific claims of liberal sociologists are actually irrelevant.

We have a fundamental principle in the United States; and that is that "rights" inhere in individuals... not factions. It does not matter how a right will affect the results of an election; freedom of speech applies to all, not just favored constituencies; either every individual has the right or none does.

In this case, no individual legal voter is denied his right to vote merely because a convicted felon with a similar skin color has lost his right to vote. My voting right is intact, even though white convicted felons housed nearby must sit out the election. However much the faction of liberal, black and Hispanic Democrats may wish they could scavange a few more votes from the prisons and among those felons who have served their time, they have no "right" to those votes.

The hyper-principle here is that the Voting Rights Act was never meant to hand more power to a particular voting faction; it was meant to protect each individual from being wrongfully denied his constitutional and state-constitutional right to cast a vote. It no more violates the voting right of a legal voter to disenfranchise convicted felons than it does to disenfranchise children, non-residents, aliens, or those who do not register to vote.

To say otherwise is to say that everyone can vote... mewling infants, alien serial killers, foreigners living abroad, and the dead. (But if the dead aren't allowed to vote, how will Democrats ever win another election in Illinois, Louisiana, or New Jersey?)

That is why it literally should make no difference whether the judicial system in Washington state is racist, because the remedy plaintiffs sought (and the Ninth Circus granted) was wild overkill, and a complete non-sequitur:

  • If plaintiffs could prove that blacks and Hispanics were being convicted of bogus charges in order to prevent them from voting, then they should bring a case to release those particular blacks and Hispanics and expunge their convictions.
  • If plaintiffs could prove that blacks and Hispanics were being frightened away from the polls by a latter-day Bull Connors, then they should bring a case to prevent the police from doing so, and perhaps award damages to the actual victims.

But under no circumstances should the "remedy" be to allow all felons, willy-nilly, to vote, because that is not even the problem they allege. The problem they allege is that the justice system is racially discriminatory, not that it's unconstitutional or illegal, as a general point, to suspend or eliminate a felon's voting rights (along with his right to possess firearms, his right to join the armed services, and so forth).

The proof is simple: If they were asserting a general right of felons to vote, then why bring up racial discrimination at all? If a felon has such a right, then he has it whether he is black, Hispanic, Asian, American Indian -- or white; and whether he is incarcerated in a city that has a discriminatory justice system or one whose justice system is squeaky clean, even by Stephen Reinhardt's standards.

By relying on claims of racial discrimination and the Voting Rights Act, plaintiffs admit that they only assert that some felons have the right to vote, not every felon everywhere; some felons are more equal than others. A black felon housed in Massachusetts has no such right; but if he's transferred to a prison in, say, rural Georgia, where the justice system may be racially discriminatory, then he would suddenly gain the right to vote -- even if he were never detained, searched, arrested, tried, or convicted in that county. Quelle surprise!

That is why I didn't even bother examining the claims of racial discrimination in the Washington justice system: As Perry Mason would say, because it's irrelevant, incompetent, and immaterial... and that is the part of this debate that has not changed since the 60s (when the lunacy began), nor since the 80s (when I began debating the lunatics).

All right, with the principles clarified, we could stop right there; we don't reach the question of the science. But we're not a court, so we can still ask those three questions about this particular issue. In case you've forgotten in all the excitement, here they are again:

  1. Is the science truly settled?
  2. If so, then what are all the options available to the state alleviate the problem?
  3. Finally, among all those options, which is the least disruptive to liberty, social order, and the will of the people?

On the first question, no, the science is obviously not settled, because many criminologists and sociologists argue that the justice system is not inherently racially discriminatory; as Patterico notes, the plaintiffs' experts actually cite some of those disagreeable dissenters.

"Not settled" guarantees that somebody is wrong here. It doesn't guarantee anybody is right; in theory, everyone could be wrong! But at the least, the anointed reformers could be wrong; the scientific method will have to sort it all out... assuming it's allowed to function, unlike the Climategate fiasco.

So far as I know, Patterico is not qualified to mediate between competing scientific claims about racial disparities and racial discrimination. Certainly neither am I, despite my math background; the intricacies of the science are well beyond me. But neither is either Reinhardt or Beckett; so where do they get off, ruling that Crutchfield and Beckett had better science than other researchers who found no illegal discrimination? Has either robèd gentleman taken even a single university-level course in statistics?

For an encore, Reinhardt and Tashima will issue a legal opinion on the Continuum Hypothesis, whether an infinity exists strictly between ℵ0 and ℵ1; the mathematical world waits with baited hook.

As I noted last post, all criminologists (including those hired by the plaintiffs in this very case!) agree that people from different cultures do indeed have different crime rates; the only disagreement is whether that behavior completely explains the conviction discrepency. Ergo, there is no consensus that the system is racist, and the very first threshold condition is not met.

Mind, all three must be met before it's legitimate for judges to monkey with voting or legislating. The anointed reformers have already lost the argument (though not the case, alas, at least not yet). But in fact, they lose on both other points as well:

They failed to enumerate all the available options, or even all the obvious ones. For example, they didn't suggest that each convicted felon's case should be reviewed, and voting rights granted only where a significant likelihood exists that the convict was railroaded due to racial discrimination. Why should a white convict caught red-handed robbing a Tofu store have his voting rights restored? What does that have to do with the plaintiffs' race-based theory of the case?

Finally, nobody has claimed, not even Patterico, that the majority judges weighed several options for dealing with the supposed racism within the justice system -- then picked the least disruptive of them all. I conclude a complete lack of parsimony; they jumped right to the most radical "remedy."

See? I didn't forget.

So the long and the short of it [hah, try and find the "short"!] is that I didn't grapple with the specifics of the claims by the anointed reformers because it's a dead-end detour; it has nothing to do with what's so wrongheaded about this decision. The scheme is as old as dirt, and I figured out a long time ago that there is never any closure arguing with people like Professor Crutchfield: He'll let you horse him around from one inconsistency to the next; then when you get tired and wander away, he'll loudly declare victory.

I went straight for the rhetorical jugular, the unAmericanness and radical nature of this decision. I have no regrets.

Cross-posted on Hot Air's rogues' gallery...

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, January 7, 2010, at the time of 11:18 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Date ►►► January 6, 2010

Voting Rights for Felons: "Race Neutral" = Race Biased

Hatched by Dafydd

In an astonishment of paralogia and "dumbth," a three-judge panel of (what else?) the Ninth Circus Court of Appeals has just ruled, 2-1, that felons should be allowed to vote, even while still in prison.

To add collectivist offense to insult (they went long past mere injury), their reasoning was so racially byzantine that it sounds like a parody: A greater percent of blacks and Hispanics are incarcerated than whites; therefore, depriving these felon convicts the right to vote from their prison cells violates the 1965 Voting Rights Act!

"I can hear the cuckoo singing in the cuckooberry tree..."

Say -- wouldn't the mere fact that blacks and Hispanics are jailed at greater percentages than whites all by itself violate the 1964 Civil Rights Act ban on segregation? Let's mandate that all races be incarcerated at exactly the same percentage as their representation in society: We let all the excess blacks and Hispanics go free, and send an appropriate number of whites and Asians to prison to balance it out, even if they haven't been convicted of any crime. Sounds like a natural extension of the court's reasoning to me.

(This is a non-trivial analogy: The reasoning of this panel is that the punishment violates the Voting Rights Act because, due to black and Hispanic overreprepresentation in prison, those federally defined races suffer a "disparate impact." But by the same logic, if blacks and Hispanics are incarcerated at a greater rate than their numbers in the population, that too is a "disparate impact" that dictates where people are allowed -- or in this case, required -- to live on the basis of race. I'm certain the next step is to do just what I sarcastically suggest in the paragraph immediately above.)

The majority decision was written by Judge Atsushi Wallace Tashima, who was first nominated to the bench by Jimmy Carter in 1980, then elevated to the Ninth Circus by Bill Clinton in 1995 (confirmed in 1996); the dissenter -- she wanted it remanded back to the courts to consider whether this calamity of non-voting felons was mitigated by a recent Washington state law making it easier for felons to recover their right to vote after finishing their sentences -- the dissenter, Margaret McKeown, was nominated by Bill Clinton in 1997. (I cannot find the name of the concurring judge.)

Here's the court's reasoning, from SFGate, based in San Francisco:

In a 2-1 decision, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco said the Washington law violates the federal Voting Rights Act because evidence showed discrimination against minorities at every level of the state's legal system: arrest, bail, prosecution and sentencing.

If the ruling survives, it will be binding in the circuit's other eight states, including California, which denies voting rights to 283,000 convicted felons in prison or on parole, according to a report from the nonprofit Sentencing Project.

About 114,000 are African Americans, who are disenfranchised at seven times the rate of the general population, the report said.

Among those in Washington state who commit crimes, "minorities are more likely than whites to be searched, arrested, detained and ultimately prosecuted," Judge A. Wallace Tashima said in the appeals court's majority opinion.

For example, he said, studies showed that African Americans in Washington were more than nine times as likely to be in prison as whites and 70 percent more likely to be searched, even though a study of one police department found that officers were more likely to find contraband when searching whites.

Findings were similar for Latinos and Native Americans, none of which could be explained by differences in crime rates, Tashima said.

It's an odd kind of racism, however, that discriminates against blacks and Hispanics but in favor of Asians, who are so underrepresented in prison that they're routinely excluded from all statistical analyses of the prison population by race. This despite the fact that racial discrimination against Asians has a long history in the United States going all the way back to the mid-19th century. (American Indian is a separate category in our "race-neutral" federal taxonomy of race.)

Oh, well.

It will probably be struck down anyway by the Supreme Court, if not by an en banc hearing of the Ninth:

A state appeals court in San Francisco upheld California's voting law last year. Three other federal appeals courts have ruled that the Voting Rights Act does not apply to bans on voting by felons.

"Part of being a good citizen is obeying the laws and not doing things to other citizens that are so egregious that you end up in prison," said Washington Secretary of State Sam Reed, who promised an appeal of the ruling. "If you do, you are going to be denied your right to participate as a full citizen in our society."

Nevertheless, let's pick through the detritis of legalisms the court appears to have relied on in this wretched decision, propositions so risible that only a lawyer could argue them. It won't take long (compared to reading Tolstoy):

Blacks are "disenfranchised" at a rate not proportionate to their numbers within the jurisdiction of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals; this clearly proves the entire justice system is racially discriminatory.

The assumption here is that all races, cultures, sexes, ethnicities, and nationalities should logically commit crimes at the same rate; thus, we would expect black teenagers living in Compton or Watts (or whatever the equivalent ghetto is in Washington) are no more likely to commit a felony than a Japanese-American soccer mom living in Beverly Hills. Ergo, if we find that more inner-city black youts per capita are imprisoned than Asian mothers of middle-school kids, we've proven illegal discrimination.

Anyone who accepts such a line of hooey is a dolt, robes or no robe.

Clearly, different races have different propensities towards crime. I do not believe this is due to genetics; rather, the cultures they have grown up in and voluntarily internalized "enable" wicked, evil, criminal behavior more than do other cultures. (And yes, before you ask, I have indeed read the Bell Curve and find many of their arguments unpersuasive.)

For example, the statistical tables for the 2006 National Crime Victimization Survey, conducted annually by the Justice Department's Bureau of Justice Statistics, finds (Table 40) that blacks account for 31.7% of all completed violent crimes (single offender), including 42.2% of all completed robberies and 50.8% of all completed robberies with injuries.

Yet a quick glance through at the U.S. Census numbers for 2006 shows that blacks make up only 13% of the population (which is likely an overcount, since it's based on self-report). Even accepting this probably exaggerated figure, that indicates blacks commit violent crimes at a rate two and a half times more than their percent of the population; they commit robberies at three times their numbers; and they commit robberies with injuries to the victim at a rate four times their numbers.

Every criminologist will tell you the same thing: Blacks and Hispanics commit more violent crimes per capita than do whites; though ideologically reassuring for some, the axiom of "cultural equivalence" falls apart in the real world. Thus merely citing "disproportionality" proves nothing about causality.

(For that matter, 93% of those imprisoned in 2008 were male; isn't anyone going to investigate the "obvious" sex discrimination against men?)

Minorities are more likely than whites to be searched, arrested, detained and ultimately prosecuted.

Searched: If the victim describes his attacker as black, Hispanic, or Asian, shouldn't the police focus their searches on people who at least meet the description? Or should they stop and search white senior citizens, even when the victim says he was robbed by a young black male, just to even things out? This is lunacy.

Arrested, detained, prosecuted: Police arrest or detain suspects when their investigations find evidence supporting an arrest or detention. If the court wants to rule that racism pervades "the system," shouldn't they at least point to evidence that, say, blacks found with crack cocaine are routinely arrested, while whites found with crack cocaine are routinely set free?

If there was any evidence of such, I strongly suspect it would have been reported by somebody; yet I read nine separate articles and found no reference to any such evidence.

Minorities are more likely to be convicted than whites who commit crimes, and more likely to be incarcerated if convicted.

The SFGate article didn't mention anything about conviction rates or sentencing, but that must (by definition) explain the "missing" percent to account for the higher rate of incarceration of racial minorities than whites. There are a number of non-racially discriminatory reasons why certain minorities could be convicted at a rate higher than whites (and much higher than Asians):

  1. Type of crime -- Some felonies, such as robbery, are more easily prosecuted than others, such as confidence games, burglary of unoccupied buildings, or insider stock trading, due to the differential impact on a jury of eyewitness testimony v. forensic testimony. Blacks and Hispanics commit violent crimes at a rate higher than whites, but whites probably commit nonviolent crimes at a higher rate than do blacks. Put the two together, and you have part of the incarceration answer.
  2. Poverty of defendant -- It seems self evident that people with money stand a better chance of being acquitted, or if convicted, a better chance of avoiding prison time, than poor people; quality of representation plays a huge role at trial (duh). It might be unpleasant to realize that the rich get off in situations where the poor, with their court-appointed attorneys, get jugged... but it is not due to race, as the O.J. Simpson trial proved.

    A lower percent of blacks and Hispanics than whites and Asians are able to afford a high-powered attorney. But if that is now "evidence" of racial discrimination in the courtroom, then we may as well say that the undeniable fact that a greater percent of whites than blacks can afford big houses "proves" racial discrimination in the real-estate market. What next -- must we have racial quotas for mansion ownership? Let's just ban all private housing and make everyone live in identical, government-owned shoeboxes.

  3. Attitude at trial -- Do we know for sure that black and Hispanic defendants are no more likely than whites and Asians to have a truculent, belligerent demeanor, leading juries to be more likely to convict them? I sure don't, and it doesn't seem facially obvious to me that childhood and adult-selected culture would have no effect on how a defendant acts during his trial. Again, combine the two, and you have defendents of certain races sabotaging their trials by their own aberrant behavior.
  4. Defendant's plea -- The BJS reports that of those defendants sentenced for a criminal offense in 2006, 94% pled guilty. But how does that break down by those sent to prison and those given probation or just a fine? Is a defendant more likely to go to prison if he pleads guilty, or if he pleads not guilty and vigorously contests conviction? If the former, as I believe if it, and if blacks and Hispanics were more likely to plead guilty than whites and Asians, that too would trend towards explaining why some races are overrepresented in prison.
  5. Prior convictions -- I haven't seen any statistic on how many blacks and Hispanics have prior convictions versus how many whites and Asians; this can certainly affect whether the convict is sentenced to prison. Where is the study on this question?

There are five confounding factors just off the top of my head, ten minutes' thought. No story I've read has raised a single one of these factors; evidently, they don't fit what Andrew Breitbart calls the "story-board" of this issue -- the comic-book tale that journalists really want to tell -- and all facts will be tortured until they surrender to it. In this case, the story-board is summed up by some jerk at Newsweek:

But the issue of prisoners participating in our democracy buries the real news in the decision. The court threw out Washington's law because its criminal-justice system is biased against minorities. The problem isn’t with disenfranchising prisoners, it’s with a state legal system that unfairly throws so many people of color in prison that their voting power is diluted.

This is followed by a slavish recitation of the statistical "proof" of discrimination, about which seldom is heard a discouraging word.

What it really boils down to is that the burden of proof should be on those claiming the entire justice system is riddled with racism... not on the rest of us to "prove" that racial discrimination (by whom?) didn't play a role in some black mugger with mutiple priors being sent to the Concrete Mama in Walla Walla.

Let's swing back to the Fox News story for a moment; this is the quotation that fired me up to write this post:

The two appellate judges ruled that disparities in the state's justice system "cannot be explained in race-neutral ways."

What do they mean by "race-neutral?" I think it's pretty clear that they demand that all races commit crimes in lockstep with their percent of the population. When that doesn't happen, they immediately see racism as the only possible explanation.

Today, their solution is to allow imprisoned felons, who have shown contempt for the law, to vote on who will create those laws; that is, to remove that punishment for crime. But tomorrow it may be, as I suggested, to simply force the prison system to precisely mirror the racial makeup of the country... no matter what disparate impact that would have in the real world on whites and Asians accused of crimes.

But there is a deeper, even more insidious racism in this case, and it oozes from every pore of the majority: By ruling that denying voting rights to convicted felons discriminates against minorities in general, two judges are equating felons of all races with the entire minority population. It's as bad as saying an entrance exam for getting into university "discriminates against blacks." Why, because blacks are known to be unusually stupid?

How stunningly offensive. Crikey, what a horrendous calumny that is on the honest, law-abiding, minority population of the entire western United States.

How does Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa feel to learn that anti-punishment radicals equate his voting rights with those of convicted felons, or argue that Villaraigosa is statistically "more likely" to be sent to prison than, say, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom? I would be hopping mad.

This entire decision of the Ninth Circuit is based upon collectivist reasoning, seeing every person who happens to be black or Hispanic as nothing but a representative of his race, felons an all. The court gives no weight to the individual choices made by free individuals in a free society; it's a vile, despicable worldview that has more in common with Jim Crow than with the Voting Rights Act.

The best defense against racism -- the ultimate collectivism -- is not more collectivism, but rather treating people as individuals. Alas, I suspect it will be a long, long time before the Ninth Circus dips a toe into such a radical pond as individualism.

Cross-posted on Hot Air's rogues' gallery...

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, January 6, 2010, at the time of 6:30 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Date ►►► January 5, 2010

Yemeni Crickets!

Hatched by Dafydd

Several interlinked stories highlight the real danger to the country from having a president who is, let us say, reluctant to play his Commander in Chief rôle:

  • Yemen assures us that it has al-Qaeda completely under control (and they resent us pushing them around):

    Yemen showed signs of friction Tuesday with the United States over the fight against al-Qaida, insisting it has the terror group under control, as the U.S. Embassy in San'a ended a two-day closure.
  • Meanwhile, John McCain -- who, with Joe Lieberman, visited Yemen, that garden-spot of the Middle East, in August -- warns of a mounting al-Qaeda presence. (I wonder who we should believe, McCain and Lieberman -- or the Yemeni government?)

    "We cannot allow Yemen to be a base for Al-Qaeda to mount attacks on other countries in the region as well as the United States," said McCain, the Republican presidential candidate in 2008....

    Lieberman said an American who was working in Yemen had warned him during the August visit that "Iraq was yesterday's war, Afghanistan is today's war and if do not act pre-emptively now, Yemen will be tomorrow's war."

  • Finally, in response to the Yemen problem, Barack H. Obama has decided to forego the planned release of Gitmoids to Yemen... at least until the furor dies down:

    The U.S. will not transfer any detainees from Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to Yemen right now, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said Tuesday.

    Ninety detainees in Gitmo are from Yemen, which is combating a resurgent Al Qaeda. A delayed return could mean they will end up in a federal prison in Thomson, Illinois, Gibbs said...

    "While we remain committed to closing the detention facility, the determination has been made that right now any additional transfers to Yemen is not a good idea." [As you can see, with this crowd in la Casa Blanca, there's ever a "Duh" moment! -- DaH]

Recent terrorist events corroborate the McCain-Lieberman warning: We all know by now that failed boxer-bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab trained in Yemen, and that is likely where he got his underwear bomb; and last August, a member of the same al-Qaeda branch in Yemen tried to assassinate Muhammad bin Nayef, Saudi Arabia's chief counterterrorism official, using the same underwear-bomb technique as did Abdulmutallab (and Nayef informed us all about that attack last year). Finally, just a few days ago, the U.S. and U.K. embassies in Yemen were shut down due to credible bombing threats from the same jolly band of terrorists.

Al-Qaeda has strong roots in Yemen, of course; that's whence the bin Laden family originally came, and it's possible that Osama bin Laden himself is technically a Yemeni citizen, not Saudi Arabian (I'm not sure of the law in the two countries). The Moslems in Yemen are a split between Sunni (a big chunk of them Wahhabi) and Shia (including a great many "Twelvers"); and control by the radicals definitely appears to be growing, to the point of having the government in a stranglehold -- or at least a half-nelson.

Note that this is not an example of al-Qaeda being driven out of one place, like Afghanistan, and fleeing over the mountains and across the border into Pakistan. From Waziristan and Balochistan, where we believe al-Qaeda to be headquartered today, Yemen is more than two thousand miles away: The Yemeni al-Qaeda aren't refugees... they're an expanding base of operations.

This is what happens when a president doesn't pro-actively fight against the Iran/al-Qaeda Axis and take the fight to the enemy: During the years when we were going after AQ in Iraq and Afghanistan and all around the world, they were too busy defending (and losing) their home turf to branch out into other countries. They were on the run, especially after we defeated them in their self-styled center of gravity, Iraq.

But Barack H. Obama has made it quite clear that he doesn't consider attacks on the United States and on our allies by Iran, and by Iranian-backed terrorist groups, to constitute a "war." The One al-Qaeda Has Been Waiting For considers such mass murders merely "criminal activities," akin to drug running or auto theft. He sends a dozen signals every month that he has no intention of making war on the evil-doers, but is content to sit back and play defense. And now they're moving right back into the Middle East, into Yemen, which sits at the southern border of Saudi Arabia -- where there is already war, terrorism, and chaos enough to feed a dozen al-Qaedas.

We cannot play defense against the Axis: If we don't take the war to them, they'll follow us home and take it to us.

Al-Qaeda will send as many Einsatzgruppen as necessary, so that at least one will get through; then we'll have another London Tube-bombing sized "man-caused disaster," or even, God forbid, a second September 11th-level catastrophe . But that's what happens when we play defense: We must get it right every time, for all time; they only have to get it right once.

Cross-posted on Hot Air's rogues' gallery...

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, January 5, 2010, at the time of 7:17 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Date ►►► January 4, 2010

Neil Frank Rains on the Gorbasm Snow Job

Hatched by Dafydd

Another denier obviously in the pay of Big Ergs. It's time to say bye-bye to this American lie:

Now that Copenhagen is past history, what is the next step in the man-made global warming controversy? Without question, there should be an immediate and thorough investigation of the scientific debauchery revealed by “Climategate.”

Clearly Frank hasn't a clue; after all, what does he know from atmospheric science? He only directed the National Hurricane Center for nine years and was the chief meteorologist for KHOU in Houston. Oh, and his fellow meteorologists elected him to the council of the American Meteorological Society for a four-year term.

But what has he done lately?

Anyway, here he goes, making a big trouble, parroting the line of the Holocaust Globaloney deniers -- and probably being paid under the table by Gobbel Oil. I mean, why else would he say things like this:

If you have not heard, hackers penetrated the computers of the Climate Research Unit, or CRU, of the United Kingdom's University of East Anglia, exposing thousands of e-mails and other documents. CRU is one of the top climate research centers in the world. Many of the exchanges were between top mainstream climate scientists in Britain and the U.S. who are closely associated with the authoritative (albeit controversial) Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Among the more troubling revelations were data adjustments enhancing the perception that man is causing global warming through the release of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other atmospheric greenhouse gases.

Particularly disturbing was the way the core IPCC scientists (the believers) marginalized the skeptics of the theory that man-made global warming is large and potentially catastrophic. The e-mails document that the attack on the skeptics was twofold. First, the believers gained control of the main climate-profession journals. This allowed them to block publication of papers written by the skeptics and prohibit unfriendly peer review of their own papers. Second, the skeptics were demonized through false labeling and false accusations.

Since Frank retired such a long, long time ago -- back in 2008 -- it's fair to conclude that he's totally out of touch with modern Gorospheric Global Climate Change. I can still remember how that last consensus made me smile; and I knew if I had my chance those data-sets I could enhance, and Algor would be happy for a while.

Clearly, this septuagenarian sock poppet "Frank" (if that is his real name) needs to be sacked, à la Alice in Wonderland -- that is, roped fore and aft and stuffed in a sack (along with the experiments and studies that turned out obviously wrong, in unacceptable conflict with the Vision). Otherwise, he might continue to rave such heresy and lèse majesté as ceci:

What do the skeptics believe? First, they concur with the believers that the Earth has been warming since the end of a Little Ice Age around 1850. The cause of this warming is the question. Believers think the warming is man-made, while the skeptics believe the warming is natural and contributions from man are minimal and certainly not potentially catastrophic à la Al Gore.

Second, skeptics argue that CO2 is not a pollutant but vital for plant life. Numerous field experiments have confirmed that higher levels of CO2 are positive for agricultural productivity. Furthermore, carbon dioxide is a very minor greenhouse gas. More than 90 percent of the warming from greenhouse gases is caused by water vapor. If you are going to change the temperature of the globe, it must involve water vapor.

Third, and most important, skeptics believe that climate models are grossly overpredicting future warming from rising concentrations of carbon dioxide. We are being told that numerical models that cannot make accurate 5- to 10-day forecasts can be simplified and run forward for 100 years with results so reliable you can impose an economic disaster on the U.S. and the world.

Surely we can't have that! Already, January makes me shiver with each prognosis I deliver: Bad news on the hock' stick; can't replicate that horse schtick.

Somebody please stop this overly Frank man before he commits further sacrilege against the anointed one... for if he's allowed to continue his anti-Big Science activities, it could be the day the IPCC * died.

 

* IPCC -- pronounced "ip-sick," of course.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, January 4, 2010, at the time of 9:13 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Terror Strike Out

Hatched by Dafydd

The Washington Examiner notes that Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC, 100%) has put a "hold" on Erroll Southers, Barack H. Obama's nominee to head up the Transportation Security Agency (TSA). The Senate has not yet acted on Southers' nomination for two good reasons.

First, there is DeMint's hold, which is due to Southers' refusal so far to answer one simple question:

DeMint won't withdraw his hold until Southers answers a simple question -- does he think TSA employees should be allowed to collectively bargain with the government on workplace rules and procedures? To date, Southers has declined to give a definitive response to DeMint's question, even though it's importance was highlighted by the attempted Christmas Day massacre of nearly 300 people aboard Northwest Airlines Flight 253 by Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab. The 23-year-old Nigerian Muslim terrorist boarded the Detroit-bound flight despite having explosives sewn into his knickers.

(Hat tip to Paul Mirengoff at Power Line.)

Second, the Senate has dilly-dallied in taking up the nomination because Southers has been too busy giving false testimony to that august body, and Sens. Susan Collins (R-ME, 20%) and Joe Lieberman (I-CT, 85% Dem) have been holding his nose to the fire about it. Again, we turn to Power-Line Paul:

It looks like Erroll Southers, the Obama administration's nominee to head the TSA, corrected his testimony about his abuse of his position with the FBI only after Senator Susan Collins learned that his tesimony was inconsistent with FBI records and asked him to account for the inconsistency. To summarize this situation, about which I wrote here, In an affidavit, Southers admitted to Congress that he was censured by the FBI in 1988 for using his position to gain access to data about his ex-wife's new boyfriend. He claimed that he had asked a co-worker's husband who worked for the police to run the database search. When Senator Collins asked Southers whether this was the only case in which he engaged in this serious abuse, he testified that it was.

Later, however, Southers sent a letter to Collins and Senator Lieberman (the two key members of the Senate Homeland Security Committe) stating that on two occasions, not one, he misused his position to gain access to information about the "boyfriend." Moreover, he did not ask the police to run the search; rather, he ran it himself and passed the information on to the police....

The chronology set out in today's Washington Post answers the question. On November 19, Senator Collins voted in committee in favor of Southers' nomination. However, she did so "conditionally" and asked him to account in writing for the inconsistencies between his testimony and FBI documents she had reviewed. On November 20, Southers sent the letter to Senators Collins and Lieberman correcting the record. By that point, he had no choice.

Collins and Lieberman have indicated that, regardless of his lack of candor in previous testimony and his admitted (multiple) abuses of his authority, they're ready to vote to confirm Southers anyway.

(And why not? When the Senate has already overwhelmingly (and bipartisanly) confirmed a Secretary of the Treasury who evaded his income tax, why quibble about such a little thing as using one's FBI authority to harass the ex-wife's new boyfriend -- and then lying about it to Congress? What is power for, but to abuse one's enemies?)

But let's get back to the unionization issue. Jim DeMint has his own question, but I have mine: Suppose after extending "collectivization" (unionizing) to the TSA, they go on strike?

And what if, during that strike, a terrorist boards an airplane (as did Abdulmutallab), uses a non-defective ignition system this time, and blows up the plane over a populated area, killing hundreds of people? How will the American citizenry react to such a concatenation of events -- a barbaric terrorist attack on us directly enabled by "labor action" in the TSA, action which has the blessing of Obama's new appointee to head up that very agency?

Does the president understand the risk he's running? Does he understand the words "aborting his own presidency?"

For the most selfish of all reasons, Barack Obama should seriously rethink his appointment of Errol Southers to such a critical position as Administrator of the TSA. It's one of those "serious" appointments, like Secretary of Defense or Attorney General; not a mere political plum -- like Special Advisor for Green Jobs at the White House Council on Environmental Quality, or something.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, January 4, 2010, at the time of 12:30 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Date ►►► January 3, 2010

Ben Bernanke: Ignoramus - or Politician?

Hatched by Dafydd

So the allegedly smartest financial guy in the world hath spoken on the housing-finance crisis. He spake at length; if you want to readeth the entire brain-numbing speech, here it be.

He spoke of the various factors (notably monetary policy) that could have led (but didn't) to the housing bubble, the collapse of which is largely responsible for the worldwide recession that technically began in the fourth quarter of 2008. And he issued his pronouncements about what actually did cause the bubble -- which in Bernanke's mind was an insufficiency of federal regulation, or at least "smart" regulation, from the Federal Reserve. (Shockingly, being its chairman, his solution is to grant the Fed even greater regulatory power).

In fact, his conclusion can be summed up in a single sentence: Some critics say the housing crisis was caused by the government not regulating money tightly enough; but in reality, it was caused by the government allowing too much Capitalism to occur.

Bernanke does touch -- very briefly! -- on the faint possibility that "exotic mortgages" with "exotic features" might have contributed to the problem (I suspect "exotic" is a buzz word in financial circles). But nowhere does he even so much as mention what nearly every conservative, libertarian, Capitalist, or at least independent economist and financial analyst long since concluded was the real culprit in the housing bubble: For more than three decades, Congress forced banks to lend trillions in sweetheart loans to poor people who couldn't afford them.

As Peter Schweizer amply demonstrates in his seminal book Architects of Ruin -- required reading for everybody who cares about the American economy (I doubt Bernanke is even aware of the book's existence) -- radical housing activists used race-baiting and the court system, aided by ultra-liberals in Congress and in particular by Presidents Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, and Barack H. Obama, to force an ever increasing percentage of mortagages to flow to people without any means to pay them... on the radical socialist theory that home-ownership is a human right. (For "the right to home ownership" read "the right to buy a five-room mansion on a studio apartment income.")

Banks and S&Ls were threatened into making unrecoverable loans by the very regulatory agencies that should have forced them to be more fiscally responsible (or at least marginally sane). They saw their mergers held up, their expansions frozen, their federal contracts suspended... until they agreed to create "exotic" home loans (such as interest-only, adjustable-rate mortgages) to, in essence, give everybody a house, whether he could afford it or not.

To keep the financial institutions afloat, radicals "reformed" the government-sponsored enterprises (GSEs) Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (for "reformed" read "turned on their heads"); henceforth, instead of setting a high standard for the loans they would back, requiring good credit, a clean personal history, a steady job, and an adequate income -- thus encouraging private financial institutions to do the same, lest their loans be ineligible for purchase by Fannie and Freddie -- the GSEs instead lowered and lowered the standards, like a game of financial "limbo," encouraging their clients, the banks, to do the same. And "Limbo" is right where they ended, holding trillions and trillions of dollars of toxic "assets," whose value, when it could be calculated at all, was about equal to the paper and ink used to print them.

Although Fannie and Freddie were supposedly private companies that theoretically could go bankrupt from such psychotic policies, everyone assumed (accurately, as it turned out) that no matter how many subprime mortgages were purchased by these GSEs, the federal government would ultimately underwrite them all; that is, Fannie and Freddie would bail out the banks, and taxpayers would bail out Fannie and Freddie.

From the introduction to Architects of Ruin:

But the heart of the story is the role that radical activists and liberal politicians in Washington played in trying to harness the U.S. financial system to advance their socialist agenda....

[T]he liberal baby boomers -- born to affluence, burdened by guilt -- saw the capitalist system as inherently flawed and unfair. More important, they saw it as a system that could, and should, be manipulated for "progressive" social purposes. Calll it "do-good capitalism": the merging of sixties social values with the rewards of the profit system. The chief buzzwords of this enlightened form of capitalism are the fashionable notions of socially responsible investing and corporate citizenship.

As the liberal boomers rose to power in the 1970s, '80s, and '90s, they increasingly sought to harness the engine of capitalism to their vision of a good society. Thus, to further their activist goals, liberals in and out of Washington pushed the federal government deeper and deeper into engagement with the housing market, artificially driving the costs of lending down and pumping the system full of toxic debt.

At the same time, liberals in the Clinton administration entered into an unprecedented partnership with the financial industry that amounted to a form of state capitalism. Under Clinton, a series of Wall Street bailouts taught the big financial houses that if they failed, the federal government would come to their rescue.... This only had the effect of further corrupting their judgment, inuring them to risks by insulating them from the ruthless discipline of the market.

However, Ben Bernanke appears not to remember any of this history.

This is especially strange, since in 2007, when Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY, 100%) proposed reinflating the housing bubble by forcing Fannie and Freddie to buy another $145 billion of failed loans, it was Chairman of the Federal Reserve Ben Bernanke who strenuously objected. Of course, that was when his boss was George W. Bush, who repeatedly attempted to rein in the "state capitalism" initiated by his predecessor, Bill Clinton, then resurrected by Bush's successor, Barack Obama. What a difference a couple of years, and a change of presidencies, makes in Bernanke's worldview!

And how quaint and precious that Schumer bill seems now, with its paltry $145 billion to buy more toxic debt. On Christmas Eve, the Obamunist announced an Executive Order giving a blank check to Fannie and Freddie: They can now buy more unrecoverable debt through 2012 with no ceiling whatsoever. Fannie and Freddie will likely purchase tends of trillions of dollars more of such toxic assets before the November elections give us a chance to terminate that deal, thus locking in "Obamunism" for the rest of the president's term. As the Wall Street Journal reports:

The Treasury announced Thursday it was removing the caps that limited the amount of available capital to the companies to $200 billion each.

Unlimited access to bailout funds through 2012 was "necessary for preserving the continued strength and stability of the mortgage market," the Treasury said. Fannie and Freddie purchase or guarantee most U.S. home mortgages and have run up huge losses stemming from the worst wave of defaults since the 1930s....

The Treasury removed the cap on the size of available bailout funds by amending agreements it reached with the companies in September 2008, when the government seized control of the agencies under a legal process called conservatorship. The agreement allowed the Treasury to make amendments through the end of the year, without the consent of Congress. Changes made after Dec. 31 would likely involve a struggle with lawmakers over the terms.

Oh, and of course the obligatory hand-buttering:

The companies on Thursday disclosed new packages that will pay Fannie Chief Executive Officer Michael Williams and Freddie CEO Charles Haldeman Jr. as much as $6 million a year, including bonuses. The packages were approved by the Treasury and the Federal Housing Finance Agency, or FHFA, which regulates the companies....

Under the new packages, Fannie will pay as much as about $3.6 million annually to David M. Johnson, chief financial officer; $2.4 million to Kenneth Bacon, who heads a unit that finances apartment buildings; $2.8 million to David Benson, capital markets chief; $2.2 million to David Hisey, deputy chief financial officer; $3 million to Timothy Mayopoulos, general counsel; and $2.8 million to Kenneth Phelan, chief risk officer.

At Freddie, annual compensation will total as much as $4.5 million for Bruce Witherell, chief operating officer; $3.5 million for Ross Kari, chief financial officer; $2.8 million for Robert Bostrom, general counsel; and $2.7 million for Paul George, head of human resources.

The pay deals also drew fire. With unemployment near 10%, "to be handing out $6 million bonuses to essentially federal employees is unconscionable," said Rep. Jeb Hensarling, a Texas Republican who is a frequent critic of Fannie and Freddie.

Not bad for a pair of enterprises at the rim of a financial black hole; but of course, let's not forget these are government-sponsored enterprises, and that makes all the difference. (I assume Fannie and Freddie will also be immune to any executive pay caps imposed by the One the Radicals Have Been Waiting For, in his relentless quest to promote "Robin Hood Capitalism," as Schweizer puts it in Architects of Ruin. After all, Fannie and Freddie are doing "a heck of a job" saving the world from the free market; their execs should be "adequately" compensated.)

What guesses can we hazard about the conclusions that will be drawn over the next few months by Chuck Schumer, Chris Dodd (D-CT, 100%), Barney Frank (D-MA, 100%), Barack Obama, Ben Bernanke, and others running (or ruining) our economy?

  • The fix for Fannie and Freddie having lent too much money to people with too little to pay it back -- is to lend even more to the same people, so they can buy even bigger houses that they can even less afford.
  • The proper response to radical socialists ramming fantastical, ideologically based regulation though Congress is to encourage them to redouble their efforts.
  • The solution to diminished wealth creation due to warping the free-market system into "state capitalism" is to finish the job and dive whole hog into the liberal fascism cesspool.
  • And the remedial corrective for those who should have been overseeing our financial system, from regulators like Bernanke to journalists at the New York Times and the Washington Post, but who turned the other eye for the most part... is for our overseers to become full-fledged cheerleaders for the very radical policies that have brought the world's mightiest economy to its knees, so that we must beg "friends" like the People's Republic of China to bail us out.

Assuming America survives such economic ruin -- as I do assume, agreeing with Adam Smith "that there is a great deal of ruin in a nation" -- I believe the rise of the Baby Boomers to power as radical "reformers" of Capitalism will come to be seen in hindsight as one of the greatest threats the world has ever known. The "Boomer Bust" is the late twentieth, early twenty-first century echo of the rise of nakedly totalitarian socialism in the late nineteenth and early twentieth. (Much as Sauron was the echo of his master Morgoth in the Lord of the Rings trilogy.)

See? The 60s radicals will "make their mark" upon history after all!

Cross-posted on Hot Air's rogues gallery...

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, January 3, 2010, at the time of 3:27 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Date ►►► January 1, 2010

"VIP" Treatment Under Nationalized Health Care

Hatched by Sachi

A few days ago, my 77 year old father, who lives in Japan, fell and couldn't get up for more than an hour. He was taken to a hospital, where he still rests.

Last night my mother called to update me with a summary of his condition: He has a compressed disk, it seems (it's hard to translate from Japanese to English and from Mom-speak to ordinary human language). The condition is somewhat serious but not life threatening; he'll have to spend a few weeks in hospital. Too bad; New Year's is the biggest holiday season in Japan.

I'm sure everyone reading this post knows that Japan has socialized medicine (national health care, single-payer, however you want to call it). It's not as draconian as the NHS in the United Kingdom or the Canadian national and provincial health-care system; but it is universal -- everyone must pay for government insurance. Fortunately, those who are well off can also buy private insurance in addition... and they can use that instead of the government system (unlike in the UK or Canada).

In other words, Japan already has the system that proponents of ObamaCare eventually want to install here in America. So let's take a look at how it works in the real world.

After Mom reassured me about my father's condition, she started talking about last year around this time, when she had to have stomach surgery.

"Oh Sachi, the care I received was wonderful!" she said; "I stayed in a private room which was like in a nice hotel. It had a private bathroom. The nurses were nice. The doctors were wonderful. I spent nine days in the hospital and only paid ¥80,000!" [About 800 dollars]

"Really?" I asked; "government insurance actually covered all that?"

"Oh, of course not; I have three insurance policies," she proudly announced.

Before retirement, my father was a patent attorney. As a private business owner, he had to pay an exorbitant government insurance premium, both for himself and his three employees. But he always knew that would never be enough coverage, so he purchased two more private insurance policies. In other words, he spent more than twice as much on health insurance as a typical American spends now, pre-ObamaCare.

But even those extra policies wouldn't cover the VIP treatment my Mom got. I asked a few more questions, and she finally spilled the beans:

"I was supposed to be in a 4-person room. But I had a private room all to myself, thanks to your uncle."

Ah, my uncle the hospital administrator. I'd forgotten about him!

My mother's third or fourth youngest brother (I forget which) holds a high administrative position at a major university hospital. It seems he has a great deal of clout there, which has been a great help to our family in times of medical need.

My mother is quite the hypochondriac; she always complains about one ailment or another, usually imaginary. So whenever she is not satisfied with her general practitioner, she talks to my uncle. First thing you know, she's seeing a specialist -- skipping the long waiting list that those without such connections must endure under Japanese system.

On another occasion, Mom hurt her knee. My uncle "referred" his sister to a university hospital doctor who was Japan's most famous doctor for ligament tears. Patients from all over Kanto Plain (where Tokyo sits) would come to see him.

"He only takes 40 patients a day," mom said (only 40! Imagine that!) He doesn't accept appointments; so if you want to see him, you have to get there by 7:00 a.m, take a number, and... wait. And wait, and wait.

My mother strolled in at 9:00, the time the office officially opens; the waiting room was already full, and they had long stopped issuing any numbers. One lady told my mom that she had gotten up at four and had her daughter drive her for two hours to get to the hospital. She was lucky; she got number 38 and had waited three hours already. "There are no specialists in my city," the lady explained.

My mother-the-sister-of-one-of-the-nomenklatura presented her letter of introduction to the receptionist:

"Don’t worry, Ma'am, never mind the number. Just have a seat; we will call you."

My mother did not have to wait. The doctor was most courteous, a rarity in Japan, and he asked about my uncle. Then he gave Mom a thorough examination, spending far longer with her than other patients.

So my parents have the more expensive national health care for business owners (Dad pays higher taxes), Kokumin Hoken -- Citizens' Health Insurance; the lesser one is for ordinary salaryman, Shykai Hoken -- Society Health Insurance. In addition, they have not one but two private health insurance plans, a primary and a supplementary. On top of that, my mother's brother is a high-ranking official at a major hospital in Japan.

But Mom is not so foolish as to rely upon such insecure health-care planning as that; she has a back-up system that she also uses...

After such nice treatment as she got for her knee and her stomach, my mother never forgets to send "gifts," typically cash and premium liquor to the doctors, expensive chocolate to the nurses -- and of cours, something extra special to my uncle, her brother. She was laughing that after her hospitalization, she spent more money on gifts than the actual medical bill. That means over thousand dollars of, let's be honest, bribery.

Wonderful. The national health-care system works!

That's why my mother isn't worried about Dad's care; he's going to be treated better than anybody other than corporate CEOs and of course government officials. But even with that kind of influence, my father had to wait three days for his preliminary examination and to have X-rays taken. After all, it was a holiday week, the Emperor Akahito's birthday, and no doctor was willing to return to the hospital for anything other than a life or death situation. (And maybe not even then; how many extra private insurance plans is the fellow carrying?)

The day my father was taken to the hospital, the nurse told Mom to obtain several changes of clean pajamas, underwear, and towels for my father. Also soap, shampoo, and other toiletries, which were needed right away. Conveniently, the hospital has a kiosk that sells all kinds of items and is open 24 hours. Just a little markup over buying at a regular store, miles away... maybe 100% or so.

Oh, yes, I almost forgot, they told Mom to bring a thousand-dollar deposit. Cash.

My sister and mother take turns visiting Dad everyday. They have to pick up his dirty laundry, wash it and bring it back, because the hospital doesn't do that. But Dad's quite lucky that he stays in a nice hospital with three different insurance policies, under the auspices of his brother in law. My girlfriend’s father only had government insurance when he was hospitalized, and the hospital did not even turn on an air conditioner in the middle of August, with temperatures over a hundred degrees and humidity close to 100%.

My girlfriend visited her father as often as she could; she had to: Half the time, they didn't even empty his bedpan.

You see? National health care works great... so long as you're rich enough to afford the premium level of government insurance and to buy multiple additional private policies; so long as you have influential relatives; and so long as you're willing and able to brazenly bribe the doctors and bureaucrats who run the system.

"I am so glad we live in Japan," Mom said. "I worry about you in America, with no national health care!" Thanks, Mom, but I'm afraid "help" is on the way from President Barack H. Obama.

Are you looking forward to it as eagerly as I?

Cross-posted on Hot Air's rogues' gallery...

Hatched by Sachi on this day, January 1, 2010, at the time of 4:18 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

In Theory, It Ought to Be a Theory, But...

Hatched by Dafydd

Frequent commenter Snochasr: has responded to a previous Big Lizards post titled Gas Masquerade, which notes that even some mainstream scientific publications for lay readers have begun to think a second time about the pronunciamentos of globaloney. Snochasr japed:

This looks like my list of the "top four flaws" in the theory of Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming (CAGW). Those are that it's not catastrophic, it's not anthropogenic, it's not global and it's not warming. But it IS a theory.

Well actually, it's not even a theory -- at least not a scientific one.

In science terms, a "theory" is "an analytic structure designed to explain a set of empirical observations."

To continue quoting from that unimpeachable font of all wisdom, Wikipedia...

A scientific theory does two things:

  1. it identifies this set of distinct observations as a class of phenomena, and
  2. makes assertions about the underlying reality that brings about or affects this class.

In the scientific or empirical tradition, the term "theory" is reserved for ideas which meet baseline requirements about the kinds of empirical observations made, the methods of classification used, and the consistency of the theory in its application among members of the class to which it pertains. These requirements vary across different scientific fields of knowledge, but in general theories are expected to be functional and parsimonious: i.e. a theory should be the simplest possible tool that can be used to effectively address the given class of phenomena.

Here are the theoretical problems with the "theory-ness" of AGCC:

  • AGCC is not primarily based upon empirical observation but rather computer modeling; as the models are designed by global-warming activists, they naturally show global warming... but that is purely an artifact of the modeling: A spurious characteristic introduced by human manipulation, whether deliberate or unconscious.
  • It is inconsistent with about half the available data -- which is therefore suppressed, e.g. Michael Mann's infamous "hockey stick" graph, which wished the Mediaeval Climate Optimum out of existence. When observation is subservient to the model, when data is cherry-picked, when results are misreported or manipulated, when contrary results are censored, that is not science; it's politics.
  • It is not functional; it cannot even "predict" the warming from 1900 to 2000; nor can it explain the lack of warming since 1998, other than by denying it.
  • It is not parsimonious, in that there are simpler explanations than AGCC that account for what observational evidence does exist -- variations in solar output, for example.
  • It is not testable, since even its proponents proclaim that there are too many confounding factors to make firm predictions.
  • It is not falsifiable, as "climate change" can mean a climate that is warming, a climate that is cooling, or a climate showing unusual stability, each of which thus becomes "evidence" for AGCC.

Ergo, AGCC is not a scientific theory. At best, it could be an interesting hypothesis for future scientific study.

More accurately, as currently used, AGCC modeling is a political formulation whose true function is to rationalize and facilitate the gargantuan transfer of wealth from developed to underdeveloped nations and the accumulation of totalitarian power within an international quasi-government.

This global regime is cobbled together from environmental regulations, economic utopianism, and radical misanthropy... "hatred of humanity" so extreme it calls for the destruction of most of the human race (or all of it, in some cases) and the degredation of whatever fraction remains.

So... AGCC Theory is not anthropogenic, not global, not climate change -- and it's not even a theory. Strike four, and globaloney is really, really, really out!

Cross-posted on Hot Air's rogues' gallery...

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, January 1, 2010, at the time of 2:22 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Have a...

Hatched by Dafydd

 

 



Happy New Year 2010

 

 



Happy November 2nd

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, January 1, 2010, at the time of 12:00 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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