Daily Wisdom

July 30, 2009

U.S. Debt - Your Share

July 28, 2009

Obama Accuses Himself

Hypocrisy alert! A heretofore "unknown" 2004 interview with Barack Obama by leftwing radio host Randi Rhodes has just emerged. And basically, as you shall hear, Obama is saying do as I say, not as I do. In this case he was referring to quickly forcing legislation through congress.

--P.J. Gladnick, NewsBusters.org, 27 July 2009

News Busted - July 28th

July 23, 2009

Oppose ObamaCare

Hat-tip to Heirborn Ranger...

Reading Between The Lines

I watched the President's press conference on health care last night. Afterwards, Bill O'Reilly came on and went wild. "What did he say? Did you understand what he was saying?", O'Reilly asked the reporters and commentators. "This guy was all over the place! Did you hear any details?", he continued.

Obviously, Obama's presentation style drives people like Bill O'Reilly crazy. O'Reilly is the original "No-Spin" guy, and Obama is his antithesis. Obama is about as vague and elusive as you can get. As I posted elsewhere, Obama uses a form of language which has been described as "slippery, sleight of mouth." He deflects tough questions, obfuscates issues, glosses over negatives, diverts attention, sets up straw men, and rambles on in an effort to sound intelligent, delay more tough questions, and perhaps to think up a good response.

When Dick Morris came on, Bill O'Reilly asked him too: "Did you understand what this guy was talking about?" Morris smiled and said, "Yes, but you have to read between the lines." Morris is absolutely correct. It's not so much what Obama says that matters, but what he doesn't say. Unless you read between the lines, then it is difficult to understand what Obama is saying. Obama does this precisely for the purpose of obfuscation. He sounds like he is saying one thing, but really means something else.

In an effort then to "read between the lines", here is my interpretation of what the President said yesterday in his opening remarks. Obama's actual words are in quotes. My translations and/or extrapolations follow in the brackets...

"This is not just about the 47 million Americans who have no health insurance..."
[That's only for starters. First of all, we want the taxpayers to pick up the tab for those 47 million uninsured Americans, which includes 12 million illegal aliens.]

"Reform is about every American who has ever feared that they may lose their coverage if they become too sick, or lose their job, or change their job..."
[Therefore, the government will come to the rescue and guarantee an individual's God-given right to health care -- along with life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.]

"It's about every small business that has been forced to lay off employees or cut back on their coverage because it became too expensive..."
[That's why our new government health care plan will be cheaper than private insurance, and small businesses that can't afford to provide health insurance can dump their employees into our government plan, thus increasing our power and authority.]

"And it's about the fact that the biggest driving force behind our federal deficit is the skyrocketing cost of Medicare and Medicaid..."
[We need to get costs under control, and we think the best way to do that is through government-rationed care.]

"If you already have health insurance, the reform we're proposing will provide you with more security and more stability..."
[But at a price of course. If you choose to keep your present health insurance, the additional burdens our government will impose on your insurance company will mean higher prices and therefore higher premiums for you or your employer. We might even impose a tax on you if your private plan exceeds a certain value.]

"It will keep government out of health care decisions, giving you the option to keep your insurance if you're happy with it..."
[But let me be clear, the ONLY health care decision we're talking about here is whether you choose to keep your private insurance or go to the public option. We're NOT talking about the health care decisions that are currently being made between you and your doctor. We can't control costs if you and your doctor decide what's best. We'll do that for you. When I say "decisions" (plural), I'm referring to the single decision of millions of people.]

"It will prevent insurance companies from dropping your coverage if you get too sick..."
[Thus raising the cost of private insurance plans and making them less attractive.]

"It will give you the security of knowing that if you lose your job, move, or change your job, you will still be able to have coverage..."
[In our government plan, of course.]

"It will limit the amount your insurance company can force you to pay for your medical costs out of your own pocket..."
[Which will either: 1) raise prices, thereby increasing premiums on you or your employer, or 2) force the reduction of benefits and services (i.e., rationing).]

"And it will cover preventive care like check-ups and mammograms that save lives and money..."
[But God help you if you get sick. That might not be covered.]

"If you don't have health insurance, or are a small business looking to cover your employees, you'll be able to choose a quality, affordable health plan..."
[In fact, you'll not only be "able" to choose a plan, you'll be MANDATED to choose a plan. And if you don't choose a plan, we will impose a stiff fine on you to give you some "incentive". Of course, our public option will be the MOST affordable, so you'll be forced to take ours. And it will have a "quality" all right, but notice that I didn't say "high quality" or "best quality". Heck, it might even be "low quality". That's a quality, isn't it?]

"you'll be able to choose a quality, affordable health plan through a health insurance exchange – a marketplace that promotes choice and competition..."
[And of course the competition will be rigged in our favor. We're out to be the cheapest one of the bunch, because we want your business!]

"Finally, no insurance company will be allowed to deny you coverage because of a pre-existing medical condition..."
[Which will again raise prices and make private insurance plans uncompetitive. Remember, if our costs get too high, we can always raise taxes or print money. The private companies can't do that. Awww... too bad.]

"I have also pledged that health insurance reform will not add to our deficit over the next decade – and I mean it..."
[Just like I meant it when I said I could never disown Jeremiah Wright. Or when I said we would put an end to earmarks. Or when I said all legislation would be posted on the Internet for 48 hours before I sign it. Or when I said we would work with Republicans in a bipartisan manner.]

"I inherited a $1.3 trillion deficit..."
[Errr... Let me rephrase that. I added $1.3 trillion to the $569 billion deficit Bush left me.]

"[Deficit spending] will not happen with health insurance reform. It will be paid for..."
[Either through new tax increases or by cuts to Medicare and Medicaid.]

"Already, we have estimated that two-thirds of the cost of reform can be paid for by reallocating money that is simply being wasted in federal health care programs..."
[We will end Medicare as you know it, and force everyone onto our new rationed-care program.]

"This includes over one hundred billion dollars in unwarranted subsidies that go to insurance companies as part of Medicare..."
[See how easy that was? I just say it and it will be so.]

"subsidies that do nothing to improve care for our seniors..."
[Of course our plan will do nothing to improve care for seniors, so there is no net difference.]

"And I'm pleased that Congress has already embraced these proposals..."
[Well, the die-hard liberals anyway. Too bad most Republicans and Blue Dogs aren't quite there yet.]

"While they are currently working through proposals to finance the remaining costs, I continue to insist that health reform not be paid for on the backs of middle-class families..."
[Look out wealthy Americans. Bend over. Here it comes.]

"Our proposals would change incentives so that doctors and nurses are free to give patients the best care, not just the most expensive care..."
[Where the word "best" is defined as "cheapest", or "not being wasted on the elderly", or "best in the government's opinion". Definitions are important you know.]

"That's why the nation's largest organizations representing doctors and nurses have embraced our plan..."
[Of course, we won't talk about the fact that when the A.M.A. endorsed the House bill, thousands of A.M.A. members went wild and threatened to cancel their membership. Or that the American Hospital Association is urging hospital executives to lobby against it. Or that several state medical societies denounced the plan.]

"We also want to create an independent group of doctors and medical experts who are empowered to eliminate waste and inefficiency in Medicare on an annual basis..."
[In other words, a new government bureaucracy that will get the health care rationing underway and start making decisions about which tests, services and drugs you won't be able to receive any more.]

"a proposal that could save even more money and ensure the long-term financial health of Medicare..."
[By imposing caps, cutting services and eliminating choices.]

"Overall, our proposals will improve the quality of care for our seniors..."
[Not in the opinion of seniors mind you, but in the opinion of government bureaucrats.]

"and save them thousands of dollars on prescription drugs..."
[Because they won't be able to get the drugs, or they'll be forced to take cheaper generics or less effective alternatives.]

"which is why the AARP has endorsed our reform efforts..."
[Or then again, maybe it's because AARP receives millions in federal funds, and hopes to get even more by becoming a vendor under our government plan. See AARP Sells Out Seniors.]

"So even though we still have a few issues to work out, what's remarkable at this point is not how far we have left to go – it's how far we have already come..."
[In turning America into a socialist dictatorship.]

"I understand how easy it is for this town to become consumed in the game of politics – to turn every issue into a running tally of who's up and who's down..."
[Why heck. Rahm Emanuel and I do that every day!]

"So let me be clear: This isn't about me..."
[Well... OK. It IS about me. I want to look like I've accomplished something here in Washington even if it's bad for America. I want to take credit for the hard work of others. I want the glory. I want to transfer wealth to the poor so that they'll love me. But I can't just come out and say that now, can I? I have to appear humble. No really! You can applaud now if you want to. I can handle it. Thank you. Thank you. I'm great, aren't I?]

"I have great health insurance, and so does every Member of Congress..."
[And frankly, we don't care what kind of crap everybody else gets. We're covered and we've made sure that this House bill contains a provision exempting us from going onto this public plan that we're forcing down your throats.]

And this was only his opening remarks. The questions and answers were also illuminating, but I haven't seen a full transcript yet. I may do another article on those.

July 19, 2009

Global Warming News - June 2009

Real News Stories To Share With Global-Warming Skeptics

United States
According to NOAA's National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, NC, June temperatures were nearly average for the contiguous United States, based on records going back to 1895. The average June temperature of 69.5ºF (20.8ºC), was only 0.2ºF (0.1ºC) above the 20th century mean. However, it was cooler in some areas than others...

June was not very summer-like in the Northeast. Eleven of the twelve states in the region posted below-normal temperatures and above-normal precipitation in June. Overall, the Northeast's average temperature of 63.8ºF (17.7ºC) was 1.2ºF (0.7ºC) below the normal June value and 3.4°F (1.9°C) cooler than June 2008. The New England states had the greatest negative temperature departures; in fact, it was the 10th coolest June in 115 years in Massachusetts and Rhode Island. These two states were also the coolest in the Northeast. Departures were 2.7ºF (1.5ºC) below normal in Massachusetts and 3.2ºF (1.8ºC) cooler than normal in Rhode Island.

Most of the region saw above normal rainfall in June. Delaware's 6.51 inches (16.54 cm) was 184 percent of normal. It was the 5th wettest June since 1895 in Delaware, the 6th wettest in New Jersey and the 7th wettest in Maine. Overall, the Northeast total of 5.15 inches made June 2009 the 10th wettest in 115 years. The wet conditions were not a result of a few extraordinary rain events, but lots of rainy days. In New Jersey, for instance, measurable rain fell somewhere in the state every day of the month except the 1st.

In the Midwest, average daily temperatures during June ranged from 4ºF to 5ºF (2.2ºC to 2.8ºC) below normal in northern Minnesota to 2ºF to 3ºF (1.1ºC to 1.7ºC) above normal across southern Missouri eastward into Kentucky. The cool weather regime in May continued through the first half of June. Temperatures during the first two weeks of June were below normal across much of the region, ranging from 8ºF to 9ºF (4.4ºC to 5.0ºC) below normal in western Minnesota to near normal along and south of the Ohio River. There was a marked change the last two weeks of the month as an upper level ridge centered over the Gulf Coast states pushed northward into the Midwest.

On June 1st, the forecast for the Central California coastal areas was cloudy and cool. A heavy marine layer produced sporadic drizzle for the last several days of May, and was expected to stick around at least through the first week of June. The coast was expected to see very little sun, with highs only in the mid to upper 60s. The inland valleys were expected to reach the low to mid 70s. National Weather Service forecaster Stan Wasowski said, "This is good for people who like mild weather.”

On June 6th, Green Bay Wisconsin set a record for June 6th with a high temp of only 52ºF, which it reached at 9:50 AM. That set a record for the lowest high temperature for June 6th, according to the National Weather Service office in Ashwaubenon. The old mark was 53F, set in 1943. Similar records were set across Wisconsin. Manitowoc's high was 54ºF, breaking the record of 56ºF set in 1935. In central Wisconsin, records were set in Stevens Point, Wisconsin Rapids, Marshfield and Merrill, all breaking marks set in 1935.

Also on June 6th, snow fell in Dickinson, North Dakota. It was the first time snow had fallen there past May in nearly 60 years. National Weather Service meteorologist Janine Vining in Bismarck said there were unofficial reports of a couple of inches of snow in Dickinson. Vining said snow in North Dakota in June is uncommon, though not unheard of.

On June 12th, WGN-TV in Chicago was reporting that June's chills were setting records. As of that date, June was running more than 12 degrees cooler than last year, and the clouds, rain and chilly lake winds had been persistent. The average temperature at O'Hare International Airport was only 59.5ºF: nearly 7 degrees below normal and the coldest since records there began 50 years ago.

On June 19th, 'The Arizona Republic' was talking about what a "nice June" they were having in Phoenix. "It's probably the best June since I've been here, and I've been here most of my life," said the National Weather Service's Valerie Meyers, who is in her late 40s. "It's been really nice." Possibly the nicest June ever.

It's that type of thing that is fun to say but hard to quantify. Thursday June 18th, however, was the 14th consecutive day to stay below 100ºF. That's the longest stretch of its kind in any June since 1913. The lower temperatures allowed people to sleep with windows open and drive with their arms out vehicle windows. Evenings, could be spent chatting with neighbors while children or grandchildren played. Those events are not life-changing, but they are, well, "nice".

Typically in June, high-pressure systems begin to form above the Valley. High pressure means clear skies and little wind. And, in June, clear skies let in the sunshine, sending the temperatures soaring. This June, though, remained cool because of what Meyers called "a persistent area of low pressure off the West Coast." The low pressure prevented the high-pressure systems from getting into place.

On June 16th, Anthony Watts posted a story at his Watts Up With That? blog about the first "Ice Wine" ever produced in Brazil. Due to the unusually cold June in Southern Brazil, the Vinicolo Vineyard was able to produce the highly prized wine. According to the vineyard's website, the temperatures had fallen well below-freezing to -7.5ºC. This is more anecdotal evidence that the globe is cooling rather than heating.

Frozen grapes used for Icewine - Brazil, 2009

Icewine is a natural licoroso wine, with a raised amount of residual sugar. Making Icewine requires that mature grapes be exposed to extreme cold at -6ºC. The water in the interior of the grapes freezes and separates from the juice which congeals and is rich in sugar. When the grapes are just right, they’re carefully picked by hand. Grapes in this condition have a very low yield - often an entire vine only makes a single bottle. That’s why icewine can be so expensive and is often sold in half-bottles only. After the long harvest process, the grapes go through weeks of fermentation, followed by a few months of barrel aging. The Vinicolo Vineyard uses new barrels of French oak, from the Allier forest. The wine ends up a golden color, or a deep, rich amber. It has, as you might expect, a very sweet taste.

The World

Crops Under Stress As Temps Fall: On June 13th, columnist Christopher Booker wrote an article for the Telegraph (UK), in which he says that "Our politicians haven't noticed that the problem may be that the world is not warming but cooling."

For the second time in little over a year, it looks as though the world may be heading for a serious food crisis, thanks to our old friend "climate change". In many parts of the world recently the weather has not been too brilliant for farmers. After a fearsomely cold winter, June brought heavy snowfall across large parts of western Canada and the northern states of the American Midwest. In Manitoba last week, it was -4ºC. North Dakota had its first June snow for 60 years.

There was midsummer snow not just in Norway and the Cairngorms, but even in Saudi Arabia. At least in the southern hemisphere it is winter, but snowfalls in New Zealand and Australia have been abnormal. There have been frosts in Brazil, elsewhere in South America they have had prolonged droughts, while in China they have had to cope with abnormal rain and freak hailstorms, which in one province killed 20 people...

In Canada and northern America summer planting of corn and soybeans has been way behind schedule, with the prospect of reduced yields and lower quality. Grain stocks are predicted to be down 15 per cent next year. US reserves of soya – used in animal feed and in many processed foods – are expected to fall to a 32-year low...

In Europe, the weather has been a factor in well-below average predicted crop yields in eastern Europe and Ukraine. In Britain this year's oilseed rape crop is likely to be 30 per cent below its 2008 level. And although it may be too early to predict a repeat of last year's food shortage, which provoked riots from west Africa to Egypt and Yemen, it seems possible that world food stocks may next year again be under severe strain...

There are obviously various reasons for this concern as to whether the world can continue to feed itself, but one of them is undoubtedly the downturn in world temperatures, which has brought more cold and snow since 2007 than we have known for decades... In the past two years, sunspot activity has dropped to its lowest point for a century. One of our biggest worries is that our politicians are so fixated on the idea that CO2 is causing global warming that most of them haven't noticed that the problem may be that the world is not warming but cooling, with all the implications that has for whether we get enough to eat.

--Christopher Booker, Crops Under Stress As Temperatures Fall, 13 June 2009

Scientific Opinion

Global Temp 'Average' in June: Dr. Roy W. Spencer -- climatologist, author and former NASA scientist -- announced on his Global Warming blog, that the UAH (University of Alabama at Huntsville) satellite data shows that the global temperature anomaly (departure from the average) was 0.0ºF for June. In other words, the global temperature for June was exactly at the average temperature for the period 1979-2009 -- the entire period in which satellite data records have been kept.

Global temps 1979-2009. (Click to enlarge)

Climate Change Reconsidered: On June 2nd, the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC) released an 880-page book that challenges "the scientific basis of concerns that global warming is either man-made or would have harmful effects." From their own web site...

In "Climate Change Reconsidered: The 2009 Report of the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC)", coauthors Dr. S. Fred Singer and Dr. Craig Idso and 35 contributors and reviewers present an authoritative and detailed rebuttal of the findings of the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), on which the Obama Administration and Democrats in Congress rely for their regulatory proposals.

The scholarship in this book demonstrates overwhelming scientific support for the position that the warming of the twentieth century was moderate and not unprecedented, that its impact on human health and wildlife was positive, and that carbon dioxide probably is not the driving factor behind climate change.

The authors cite thousands of peer-reviewed research papers and books that were ignored by the IPCC, plus additional scientific research that became available after the IPCC’s self-imposed deadline of May 2006.

The Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC) is an international panel of nongovernment scientists and scholars who have come together to understand the causes and consequences of climate change. Because it is not a government agency, and because its members are not predisposed to believe climate change is caused by human greenhouse gas emissions, NIPCC is able to offer an independent "second opinion" of the evidence reviewed by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). NIPCC traces its roots to a meeting in Milan in 2003 organized by the Science and Environmental Policy Project (SEPP), a nonprofit research and education organization based in Arlington, Virginia. SEPP, in turn, was founded in 1990 by Dr. S. Fred Singer, an atmospheric physicist, and incorporated in 1992 following Dr. Singer’s retirement from the University of Virginia.

You can download the full text of the book in PDF format HERE.

The Thermostat Hypothesis: On June 14th, Anthony Watts posted a guest article with the same title by Willis Eschenbach, at his Watts Up With That? blog. Eschenbach points out that the temperature of the earth has been amazingly stable for millions of years...

The globe has maintained a temperature of ± ~ 3% (including ice ages) for at least the last half a billion years during which we can estimate the temperature. During the Holocene, temperatures have not varied by ± 1%. And during the ice ages, the temperature was generally similarly stable as well.

--Willis Eschenbach, The Thermostat Hypothesis, 14 June 2009

Eschenbach posits that the reason for this temperature stability lies in the self-regulating characteristics of the earth's oceans and atmosphere. In short...

The Thermostat Hypothesis is that tropical clouds and thunderstorms actively regulate the temperature of the earth. This keeps the earth at a equilibrium temperature. Several kinds of evidence are presented to establish and elucidate the Thermostat Hypothesis – historical temperature stability of the Earth, theoretical considerations, satellite photos, and a description of the equilibrium mechanism.

--Willis Eschenbach, The Thermostat Hypothesis, 14 June 2009

Eschenbach points to work done by Bejan (Bejan 2005) which has shown that "the climate can be robustly modeled as a heat engine, with the ocean and the atmosphere being the working fluids. The tropics are the hot end of the heat engine."

Earth as a heat engine.

The work that this heat engine does effectively prevents the earth from being burned to a crisp, by transporting heat from the tropics towards the poles, thus regulating temperatures. Evaporation and cloud formation play an important role in this process. As the day heats up in the tropics, evaporation causes formation of first cumulus and then cumulo-nimbus clouds. These clouds not only reflect heat back into space, but eventually result in thunderstorms which in turn act to cool the earth's surface...

Now, some scientists have claimed that clouds have a positive feedback. Because of this, the areas where there are more clouds will end up warmer than areas with less clouds. This positive feedback is seen as the reason that clouds and warmth are correlated. I and others take the opposite view of that correlation. I hold that the clouds are caused by the warmth, not that the warmth is caused by the clouds.

--Willis Eschenbach, The Thermostat Hypothesis, 14 June 2009

Eschenbach then demonstrates that cloud formation is caused by warmth and not the other way around. He does this very graphically with the use of an image that shows monthly average albedo six months apart - in August and in February. Earth's albedo -- or reflectivity (primarily caused by clouds) -- changes with the position of the sun. August is the middle of summer in the northern hemisphere, and February is the middle of summer in the southern hemisphere. Albedo, represented by the lighter blue color in the following image, is more prevalent in the northern hemisphere during August and in the southern hemisphere during February. [Editor's Note: The Sahara desert and Saudi Arabia are still reflective in February due to the lack of vegetation in these areas.]

Albedo moves with sun-generated clouds.

Eschenbach then goes on to describe various other factors which contribute to earth's temperature self-regulation, and finally he concludes...

1. The sun puts out more than enough energy to totally roast the earth. It is kept from doing so by the clouds reflecting about a third of the sun’s energy back to space. As near as we can tell, this system of cloud formation to limit temperature rises has never failed.

2. This reflective shield of clouds forms in the tropics in response to increasing temperature.

3. As tropical temperatures continue to rise, the reflective shield is assisted by the formation of independent heat engines called thunderstorms. These cool the surface in a host of ways, move heat aloft, and convert heat to work.

4. Like cumulus clouds, thunderstorms also form in response to increasing temperature.

5. Because they are temperature driven, as tropical temperatures rise, tropical thunderstorms and cumulus production increase. These combine to regulate and limit the temperature rise. When tropical temperatures are cool, tropical skies clear and the earth rapidly warms. But when the tropics heat up, cumulus and cumulo-nimbus put a limit on the warming. This system keeps the earth within a fairly narrow band of temperatures.

6. The earth’s temperature regulation system is based on the unchanging physics of wind, water, and cloud.

7. This is a reasonable explanation for how the temperature of the earth has stayed so stable (or more recently, bi-stable as glacial and interglacial) for hundreds of millions of years.

--Willis Eschenbach, The Thermostat Hypothesis, 14 June 2009

NASA Rewrites U.S. Climate History: On June 28th, Anthony Watts posted another guest article, this one by Bob Tisdale. Tisdale generated a blink comparator which shows how NASA has been fiddling with the U.S. climate data. Not surprisingly, the "new and improved" version of U.S. climate data makes the temperature increase slightly steeper...

NASA adjusts U.S. temp record. (Click to enlarge)

Political Opinion

Capitalism Kills the Earth: If you want a good laugh, read the following article from Alby Dallas at Green Left Online. Since the article was short, I have reproduced it here in its entirety. You just can't make this stuff up...

The threat of climate change means that for the first time humanity is faced with the very real possibility of extinction [emphasis added]. The root cause of the ecological crisis is capitalism’s drive to maximise immediate profits above all else.

The UN has estimated that the total cost of conserving tropical forests, reforesting the Earth to an environmentally healthy level, reversing desertification, developing renewable energy and implementing energy efficient practices is about the same as just a few months of global military spending.

This is only one example of why this system is profoundly at odds with a sustainable planet. The exploitation of nature is as fundamental to the profit system as the exploitation of workers.

Capitalist economics treats the air, rivers, seas and soil as a “free gift of nature” to business.

Right-wing economist Milton Friedman said the only social responsibility of business was to make as much money for its shareholders as possible. Most major companies aren’t quite so honest. The big polluters spend millions advertising themselves as “green”, while they continue to plunder the Earth to keep the shareholders happy.

The market system can’t help preserve the environment for future generations because it cannot take into account the long-term needs of people and planet. The competition between individual companies to make a profitable return on their investment excludes rational and sustainable planning.

This thirst for profit prevents pro-capitalist governments from responding rationally to the climate crisis — despite the immense scale of the threat.

Stopping climate change is impossible unless the profit motive is removed from the equation. The crisis poses a big choice. We can continue in the ways of capitalism and an unhabitable planet, or we can start down the democratic socialist path — a path of harmony with nature, grassroots democracy and respect for life.

Please note (if you haven't already), that this article is filled with unsubstantiated claims, left-wing talking points, over-simplifications, broad generalizations, slanderous attacks, and wild accusations. No references are given for the quotes. No proofs are provided for the accusations. No analysis is provided for the claims. Frankly, it is all emotional BS. Unfortunately, this is the kind of mind-set we skeptics face.

The Costs of Carbon Legislation: Robert P. Murphy wrote an interesting article for the Ludwig von Mises Institute discussing how the costs of the Waxman-Markey bill will be much higher than economists like Paul Krugman of the NY Times suggest. The Ludwig von Mises Institute describes itself as "the world center of the Austrian School of economics and libertarian political and social theory". Here are some brief excerpts...

The latest IPCC report (AR4 (PDF)) says that aggressive action against GHG [greenhouse gas] emissions - and the schedule of cutbacks contained in Waxman-Markey is very aggressive in the range of models studied by the IPCC - could cost up to 5.5 percent of global GDP by the year 2050, relative to the baseline trajectory of GDP if no carbon caps are imposed. Don't take my word - or the Heritage Foundation's - for it, either; big-time activist Joe Romm quotes their figure HERE...

It gets worse. These MIT and IPCC estimates assume an optimal enforcement of the climate policies, for all major governments and for a century straight. If you move beyond the "Summary for Policymakers" and turn to the actual meat of the IPCC report, you will find the following major caveat:

It is important to note that for the following reported cost estimates, the vast majority of the models assume transparent markets, no transaction costs, and thus perfect implementation of policy measures throughout the 21st century, leading to the universal adoption of cost-effective mitigations measures, such as carbon taxes or universal cap and trade programmes... Relaxation of these modelling assumptions, alone or in combination (e.g. mitigation-only in Annex I countries, no emissions trading, or CO2-only mitigation), will lead to an appreciable increase in all cost categories. (Working Group III, p. 204, emphasis added)

It gets even worse. Most, and perhaps all, of these studies assume that the government uses the proceeds of the cap and trade (or carbon tax) in an efficient manner... what these typical studies call the "cost" - which can rise up to 5.5 percent of GDP by 2050, remember - refers to the forfeited goods and services due to the constraints on production possibilities, since the economy must emit a smaller amount of carbon dioxide. Yet the government in practice will certainly spend more money than it otherwise would... [and] will end up squandering far more than 5.5 percent of total output in the year 2050...

We have seen that the economic harms of legislation such as Waxman-Markey could be quite high. So what will it do to avert climate damage? According to this estimate by climate scientist Chip Knappenberger, Waxman-Markey would lead to a planet that warmed 9/100ths of a degree Fahrenheit less than would otherwise be the case, by the year 2050. In case you think Knappenberger's figure is bogus, look at the reaction by NASA scientists and others at a leading pro-intervention blog. They don't dispute the figure; they instead say that the United States must show leadership by capping its own emissions...

The global-warming debate has now been completely politicized, and partisans on both sides have often injected hidden values masquerading as scientific facts... Even so, I think that the real threat to humanity comes from governments growing ever more powerful in the name of fighting climate change... Whether you are a "denier" or whether you think carbon dioxide emissions need to be sharply reduced very quickly, you should be extremely skeptical of the process now unfolding in Washington. This isn't about saving the planet; it's about money and power.

--Robert P. Murphy, The Costs of Carbon Legislation, 1 June 2009

Global Warming Is Baloney: A Burger King franchise owner in Tennessee decided to weigh in on the global warming debate. The franchisee, a Memphis-based company called the Mirabile Investment Corporation (MIC) that owns more than 40 Burger Kings across Tennessee, Arkansas and Mississippi, started putting up signs saying: "Global Warming Is Baloney".

A local newspaper reporter in Memphis Tennessee, noticed the signs outside two Burger King restaurants in the city and contacted the corporation to establish if the message represented its official viewpoint. Burger King's headquarters in Miami said it did not, adding that it had ordered MIC to take the signs down. A few days later readers of the Memphis paper said they had seen about a dozen Burger King restaurants across the state displaying the signs and that some had yet to be taken down. MIC said it did not believe Burger King had the authority to make them take the signs down.

The Guardian (UK) was able to contact John McNelis, MIC's marketing president, who said, "I would think [Burger King] would run from any form of controversy kinda like cockroaches when the lights get turned on. I'm not aware of any direction that they gave the franchisee and I don't think they have the authority to do it." McNelis added: "The [restaurant] management team can put the message up there if they want to. It is private property and here in the US we do have some rights. Notwithstanding a franchise agreement, I could load a Brinks vehicle with [rights] I've got so many of them. By the time the Burger King lawyers work out how to make that stick we'd be in the year 2020." He continued: "Burger King can bluster all they want about what they can tell the franchisee to do, but we have free-speech rights in this country so I don't think there's any concerns."

ICCC Three: Marc Sheppard wrote a rather lengthy piece at American Thinker about the third major meeting of the International Conference on Climate Change that was held in Washington, DC...

A mere twelve weeks had passed since he gaveled the close of the second International Conference on Climate Change in NYC. Yet last Tuesday found Joseph Bast already delivering the opening speech to its follow-up event, again featuring an elite group of scientists, economists and politicians gathered to discuss climate science and policy. But this time he stood in DC’s Washington Court Hotel, just blocks away from the chamber in which Democrats will soon attempt to pass the very legislation compelling this urgent session – the Waxman-Markey Cap-and-Trade bill.

--Marc Sheppard, ICCC Three Brings Climate Reality To Washington DC, 7 June 2007

Sheppard provides us with a good run-down on the events of the meeting which was hastily arranged but nevertheless drew over 250 attendees. Here are few excerpts...

Bast wasted no time attacking the consensus canard and cited the mainstream media’s (MSM) success in keeping the existence of tens of thousands of scientists that dispute the notion of manmade global warming mostly secret as its foundation. He likened anthropogenic global warming (AGW) hysteria to the type of crowd madness that 19th century writer Charles MacKay coined as “an Extraordinary Popular Delusion,” in which even highly intelligent people can get swept up in a fad or idea which in retrospect was obviously false...

[MIT’s Richard] Lindzen explained why the process behind the U.N’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Fourth Assessment Report (AR4) claim of man’s responsibility for the warming since 1954 is “an embarrassment.” First they created a number of models which could not “reasonably simulate known patterns of natural behavior (such as El Niño (ENSO), the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO), the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO)), claiming that such models nonetheless accurately depicted natural internal climate variability.” Then, when those models failed to replicate the warming episode from the mid seventies through the mid nineties, they proclaimed it proof that “forcing was necessary and that the forcing must have been due to man.” And they relied upon those same “existing poorly performing models” which are fraught with “errors in the feedback factors” to make their argument that “sensitivity to a doubling of CO2 could be anything from 1.5 to 5°C based on the claimed range of results from different models.” What we see, then, concludes Lindzen, is that the very foundation of the issue of global warming is wrong [emphasis in original]...

S. Fred Singer added that once you recognize that we’re dealing with natural and not human forces all the to-do about this is nonsense. Attempts to mitigate CO2 -- which is not a pollutant – are pointless, very expensive and completely ineffective. They’ll have no effect on the climate and in fact will have little effect on the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere. Singer challenged the IPCC for proof of its claim that AWG was 90-99% certain, and to respond to the many “disputed and unsolved problems”...

When Solar expert Willie Soon took the stage, he insisted that CO2 is not an “air pollutant,” but rather food for plants and marine life. And that its atmospheric levels are controlled by temperature and other biological/chemical variables -- not the other way around (quipped the astrophysicist: Lung Cancer does not cause smoking). But most of all, a magical CO2 knob for controlling weather and climate simply does not exist... Soon also questioned CO2’s GW involvement based upon the absence of winter warming in places like Salt Lake City where a phenomenon called the CO2 Urban Dome is caused by an “ineffective CO2 sink during nighttime and during winter” when the biosphere is less active. As a result, a chart of SLC [Salt Lake City] CO2 levels from 2002-to-present show winter swings as high as 600 ppmv (current average is around 380). Yet there’s never been any rise in winter temperatures there. Hmmm.

On the other hand, graphs Soon displayed plotting Solar Total Irradiance against Arctic, Greenland and even Sun-Royal Oak, MD surface temperatures in the past century are remarkably well aligned. As was Willie’s final graph plotting Sunshine Duration against Japanese and Northern Hemisphere Temperatures over the same period. Hmmm again...

Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis), who insists that [Cap-and-Trade] be called what it really is – cap-and-tax - believes this administration is bent on signing a treaty in Copenhagen in December and he fears they’ll do so simply for the sake of signing a treaty rather than insisting that the treaty be a good one... And [Sensenbrenner] as the lone Republican to accompany Pelosi’s delegation to China a few days before, what he heard from all China interlocutors, from top on down, is that the Chinese will never go along with an international treaty that mandates the reduction of GHG [greenhouse gasses], but will instead reduce GHG their own way. They demand that the developed world contribute 1% of GDP (that’s $140B from US) to a U.N controlled fund to help with their GHG reduction. So then -- We’d borrow $140B a year from the Chinese to give the Chinese $140B a year. Readers can imagine the laughter this one induced [emphasis in original]...

When Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) took the podium, he opened with one of the event’s funniest lines: “I know a little bit about science. I know there are protons, electrons, neutrons - and MORONS”... But on a more serious note, Rohrabacher posed a few questions he feels must be answered before taxes are raised and lives are controlled. For instance, why do AGW charts tend to use an 1850’s baseline? Could it be because that’s when the LIA [Little Ice Age] ended? And what’s the big deal about a few degrees temperature rise from such historic lows? Good question, indeed.

Senator James Inhofe (R-OK) all but assured us that Waxman-Markey would never pass the Senate. Sure, Pelosi will pass anything, so it’s likely to get through the House. And Reid has promised to bypass the Senate committee process and take the bill straight to floor. But it won’t pass the Senate, where the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, the 2003 Lieberman-McCain, the 2005 McCain-Lieberman and the 2007 Lieberman-Warner were all defeated. They simply will not pass a bill that doesn’t include developing nations. Let’s hope that the congressman from Wisconsin and the Senator from Oklahoma are both correct in their assessments.

--Marc Sheppard, ICCC Three Brings Climate Reality To Washington DC, 7 June 2007

EPA Prejudges GHG Endangerment Issue: On April 2, 2007, in Massachusetts v. EPA, 549 U.S. 497 (2007), the Supreme Court found that greenhouse gases (GHG) are air pollutants covered by the Clean Air Act. The Court held that the [EPA] Administrator must determine whether or not emissions of greenhouse gases from new motor vehicles cause or contribute to air pollution which may reasonably be anticipated to endanger public health or welfare, or whether the science is too uncertain to make a reasoned decision. In making these decisions, the Administrator is required to follow the language of section 202(a) of the Clean Air Act. The Supreme Court decision resulted from a petition for rulemaking under section 202(a) filed by more than a dozen environmental, renewable energy, and other organizations. [See HERE and HERE.]

The EPA Administrator signed a proposal with two distinct findings regarding greenhouse gases under section 202(a) of the Clean Air Act:

  • The Administrator is proposing to find that the current and projected concentrations of the mix of six key greenhouse gases -- carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), perfluorocarbons (PFCs), and sulfur hexafluoride (SF6) -- in the atmosphere threaten the public health and welfare of current and future generations. This is referred to as the endangerment finding.
  • The Administrator is further proposing to find that the combined emissions of CO2, CH4, N2O, and HFCs from new motor vehicles and motor vehicle engines contribute to the atmospheric concentrations of these key greenhouse gases and hence to the threat of climate change. This is referred to as the cause or contribute finding.

The Technical Support Document (PDF Document) which the EPA used to justify this finding, relied heavily upon the assessment reports of the UN IPCC and the CCSP (US Climate Change Science Program).

The Proposed Endangerment and Cause or Contribute Findings for Greenhouse Gases under the Clean Air Act was signed on April 17th, 2009. On April 24th, 2009, the proposed rule was published in the Federal Register (www.regulations.gov) under Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OAR-2009-0171: PDF Document. The public comment period ended on June 23rd, 2009. The comment period was open for 60 days, following the publication of the proposed rule in the Federal Register on April 24th, 2009.

On the final day of the public comment period, the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) submitted a comment (PDF Document), which included (4) internal EPA e-mails which show that the EPA was unwilling to allow one of its own employees to publish a report that was contradictory to the EPA Administrator's Endangerment finding...

CEI is submitting a set of four EPA emails, dated March 12-17, 2009, which indicate that a significant internal critique of EPA’s position on Endangerment was essentially put under wraps and concealed. The study was barred from being circulated within EPA, it was never disclosed to the public, and it was not placed in the docket of this proceeding. The emails further show that the study was treated in this manner not because of any problem with its quality, but for political reasons.

CEI hereby requests that EPA make this study public, place it into the docket, and either extend or reopen the comment period to allow public response to this new study. We also request that EPA publicly declare that it will engage in no reprisals against the author of the study, who has worked at EPA for over 35 years.

The study that is the subject of these e-mails was prepared by a Mr. Alan Carlin, Senior Operations Research Analyst
at EPA’s National Center for Environmental Economics (NCEE). The e-mails can be summarized as follows:

1) a March 12th email from Al McGartland, Office Director of EPA’s NCEE, to Alan Carlin, forbidding him from speaking to anyone outside NCEE on endangerment issues;

2) a March 16th email from Mr. Carlin to another NCEE economist, with a cc to Mr. McGartland and two other NCEE staffers, requesting that his study be forwarded to EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation, which directs EPA’s climate change program. The email makes note of the peer-reviewed references in the study, and cites new research subsequent to the IPCC and CCSP assessment reports. He says that this new information "explain much of the observational data that have been collected which cannot be explained by the IPCC models."

3) a March 17th email from Mr. McGartland to Mr. Carlin, stating that he will not forward Mr. Carlin’s study. According to McGartland, "The time for such discussion of fundamental issues has passed for this round. The [EPA] administrator [Lisa Jackson] and the [Obama] administration has decided to move forward on endangerment, and your comments do not help the legal or policy case for this decision... I can only see one impact of your comments given where we are in the process, and that would be a very negative impact on our office.” [Emphasis added]

4) a second March 17th email from Mr. McGartland to Mr. Carlin, dated eight minutes later, stating "I don’t want you to spend any additional EPA time on climate change."

The CEI comment goes on to say...

Mr. McGartland’s emails demonstrate that he was rejecting Mr. Carlin’s study because its conclusions ran counter to EPA’s proposed position. This raises several major issues.

A. Incompleteness of the Rulemaking Record: The end result of withholding Mr. Carlin’s study was to taint the Endangerment Proceeding by denying the public access to important agency information. Court rulings have made it abundantly clear that a rulemaking record should include both "the evidence relied upon [by the agency] and the evidence discarded." Ethyl Corp. v. EPA, 541 F.2d 1, 36 (D.C. Cir. 1976), cert. denied, 426 U.S. 941 (1976).

B. Prejudgment of the Outcome of the Endangerment Proceeding: The emails also suggest that EPA has prejudged the outcome of this proceeding, to the point where it arguably cannot be trusted to fairly evaluate the record before it. Courts have recognized “the danger that an agency, having reached a particular result, may become so committed to that result as to resist engaging in any genuine reconsideration of the issues.” Food Marketing Institute v. ICC, 587 F.2d 1285, 1290 (D.C. Cir. 1978).

C. Violations of EPA’s Commitment to Transparency and Scientific Honesty: Finally, the emails suggest that EPA’s extensive pronouncements about transparency and scientific honesty may just be rhetoric. Shortly before assuming office, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson declared: "As Administrator, I will ensure EPA’s efforts to address the environmental crises of today are rooted in three fundamental values: sciencebased policies and programs, adherence to the rule of law, and overwhelming transparency. Jan. 23, 2009, Link. See also Administrator Jackson’s April 23 Memo to EPA Employees, "Transparency in EPA’s Operations". These follow the President’s own January 21 memo to agency heads on "Transparency and Open Government". And in an April 27 speech to the National Academy of Sciences, the President declared that, "under my administration, the days of science taking a back seat to ideology are over."

On June 26th, the CEI then published Mr. Carlin's draft report at its own website (PDF Document).

July 17, 2009

Send In The Clowns

Hat-tip to Heirborn Ranger...

July 11, 2009

Stimulus Spending And Job Growth: Update 1

You might remember that I wrote an article in June called "Stimulus Spending And Job Growth". In the article, I pointed out that Barack Obama said his stimulus package would create approximately 4 million new jobs over two years. I thought it might be interesting to see how well he's been doing. As you can see from the following graph, the loss of jobs for the month of June exceeded my expectations, which means that Obama's goal of 4 million new jobs only looks to be that much more difficult to attain...

Instead of the 166,667 jobs per month he originally needed to reach this target, last month he would have had to create approximately 264,143 jobs per month. Now, he has to create 300,700 jobs per month to reach his target. Good Luck Mr. Obama... we're counting on you.

July 07, 2009

No Taxation Without Representation!

Candidate Barack Obama promised to cut taxes for no less than 95% of Americans. In his State of the Union Speech on Tuesday February 24th he said, "if your family earns less than $250,000 a year, you will not see your taxes increased a single dime. I repeat: not one single dime." He almost immediately broke that promise when he raised the federal excise tax on cigarettes by 156 percent (or 61 cents per pack) on April 1st. Since one in four smokers live below the poverty line and 55 percent of smokers can be defined as "working poor," they are clearly making less than $250,000 per year. This is just one obvious example of a broken Obama promise.

But it gets worse than that... far, far worse. Every time the government spends money that it does not have (i.e., deficit spending), it is imposing a tax on the American people. It may be a delayed tax or a hidden tax, but it is a tax nonetheless. When the government spends money it does not have, it can do so in only one of two ways: 1) it can borrow the money, or 2) it can print the money. Government borrowing is a delayed tax. Printing money is a hidden tax.

Consider: the primary source of income for the government is tax. Whether in the form of a cigarette tax, an alcohol tax, a gasoline tax, an income tax, a "user fee", or fines and penalties, they are all basically some form of tax. When the government borrows money, it creates an obligation which it must pay back -- with interest. It is essentially a loan. In order to repay the loan and the interest, it must do so with income that comes from, you guessed it, taxes. Government borrowing in the form of 30-year Treasury Bills delays the need for increased tax revenue by 30 years. Likewise, shorter term borrowing delays the need for increased tax revenue correspondingly, for example by 5, 10 or 15 years. Nevertheless, the taxes must eventually be collected in order to pay the bill.

Some economists feel that government deficit spending is a good thing because, according to them, it stimulates the economy and thereby promotes greater tax revenues in the future. Theoretically, a growing economy produces more jobs in the private sector, which in turn results in more business and personal income taxes that are collected by the government. In this way, they say, the government can afford to pay tomorrow for the debt that is incurred today. [Remember Wimpie: "I will gladly pay you on Tuesday for a hamburger today".

Unfortunately, the effects of government deficit spending are not always the same. An economy which is simply stagnant may benefit from limited deficit spending. An economy which is in free fall will not benefit nearly as much, except perhaps to slow the rate of decline. In that case, the economy will likely take much longer to recover and any short-term debt that the government has incurred may need to be repaid before the economy has even fully recovered. The need to repay short-term debt only impedes the recovery process.

Response time therefore, is critical. Typically, government spending is slow and inefficient. The government must decide where it wants to spend the money, pass legislation to permit the spending, allocate and distribute the funds, get bids, and then award contracts. In an economy that is contracting rapidly, this process takes far too long to provide much immediate stimulus. And if the government spending is used for things like unemployment benefits, or to support other failing government entities, again there is little if any stimulative effect on the economy. In that case, the money is simply being used to maintain the status quo.

To stimulate the economy quickly, it is better to give the money directly to the people who need it. This is normally achieved by cutting taxes or direct subsidies. Cutting sales taxes or excise taxes reduces prices and spurs spending. Cutting corporate taxes allows businesses to increase their dividends, hire more people, or make needed investments in the business. Cutting income taxes leaves more money in the hands of people to spend, invest or save.

We know how spending helps the economy, but investing helps the economy too -- either directly by investing in one particular aspect of the economy, or indirectly through the purchase of mutual funds, etc. Saving helps the economy by providing banks with more liquidity for lending at lower interest rates. For those 50%+ of Americans who do not pay any income taxes, a reduction in tax rates accompanied by a corresponding reduction in withholding, or a direct subsidy (i.e., free cash), is a quicker way to stimulate the economy than government spending.

Unlike the average American who knows how best to spend his or her own money, the government will almost assuredly make bad decisions about how and where to spend money. When the government spends money, some will benefit while others (sometimes the most deserving) do not. Not surprisingly, favored classes, lobbyists, and political supporters are most often the ones to benefit. And the government is more likely to spend money on projects that are not wanted, needed, or economically justifiable.

First party purchases are always the best. That's when you buy something for yourself that you really need or want, using your own money. You have a high stake in the purchase (your own money) and a high interest in the product or outcome. Second party purchases are when you buy something for someone else, which they may not need or want, using your own money. You have a high stake in the purchase (your own money), but a low interest in the product or outcome. Third party purchases are the worst. That's when you buy something for someone else, which they may not need or want, using someone else's money. You have little or no stake in the purchase and a low interest in the product or outcome. By definition, all government purchases are third party purchases.

Along the way of course, the government takes its share as a management fee -- money which could be better used by the economy. Often times, new agencies and bureaucracies are established to direct and supervise this government mis-spending. Again, this does nothing to help the economy but actually creates additional tax burden needed to support the new bureaucracy. And such bureaucracies have a way of becoming permanent. As Ronald Reagan famously said, "a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we'll ever see on this earth!"

Massive deficit spending can become counter-productive. By increasing the amount of government debt, the need for ever larger sources of tax revenue to pay back that debt puts a drag on the economy. During a severe recession, massive deficit spending can slow the recovery or alternately, permit a modest recovery followed by an even more severe downturn. There is also a certain "tipping point" where government spending as a percentage of GDP begins to affect the economy negatively rather than positively.

Of course it is assumed that the principal holders of U.S. government debt should be Americans. When Americans invest in their country through the purchase of Treasury Bills, they are rewarded by receiving that money back with interest -- money that they (or their heirs) can then spend in our economy. If a significant percentage of U.S. government debt is held by foreign countries, then the taxes which the government must eventually impose on Americans to repay that debt will necessarily leave the country. Collecting taxes to pay off foreign countries is nothing more than a vast transfer of wealth that can do little to help the United States.

Now, some may argue that the government money borrowed from foreign countries will be used to "invest" in American infrastructure. But that money will still leave the country eventually, and the infrastructure that is left behind will still need to be maintained. Massive deficit spending supported by major foreign investments can only insure that our "investments" will be used not for ourselves, but to pay off foreigners. We will become serfs working for a foreign master. The more "investments" we make, the harder we will have to work to pay off those debts and, at the same time, try to maintain the new infrastructure.

What's even worse, is borrowing money from foreign countries to establish new entitlement programs. New entitlement programs are essentially unfunded liabilities, that is, net cash outflows. To borrow money from foreigners in order to create a new government cash outflow is absurd. It's like borrowing money to create debt! When we have to repay the money that we owe to foreigners (with taxes, mind you), where does the money come from to pay for all the new debt we have created with the entitlement programs?

The only alternative is for the government to print the money it needs. Of course, printing more money reduces the value of the existing dollars already in circulation, and that leads to inflation. Some economists think that printing money may be of some benefit during a severe economic contraction as a means of preventing deflation, or falling prices. Rapidly falling prices can lead to layoffs, wage cuts, companies going out of business, etc. The doomsday scenario is that a death spiral is created where prices and wages fall so low that bread costs only a few pennies, but nobody has even a few pennies to buy the bread. Printing money prevents deflation by creating artificial inflation.

But moderate price declines without a corresponding wage decline can be beneficial. Lower prices increase buying power. Lower prices make people wealthier by allowing them to spend less on goods and services than they otherwise would have. Lower prices spur spending and increase saving. Lower prices can also provide the motivation for productivity and efficiency improvements. Maintaining artificially high prices during a recession causes some people to stop buying or to postpone their purchases, thus delaying an economic recovery.

Massive deficit spending financed by printing money is dangerous. It can lead to uncontrolled inflation, otherwise known as hyperinflation. Inflation is a hidden tax because consumers are forced to spend more for goods and services than they ordinarily would have to spend. Inflation reduces buying power and reduces the amount people can save. Inflation makes people poorer than they would be if prices remained stable or actually decreased. If inflation grows at a faster rate than wages or income, then the population loses real wealth. If government deficit spending is financed by printing money and the result is higher prices, then the population is being taxed through their purchases to support the government's spending.

So then, either way the government funds its deficit spending, the result is a tax. It is either a delayed tax or a hidden tax. So let's just see how much Obama has "not" raised taxes. First, he released the second half of the TARP funds (Troubled Asset Relief Program) at $350 billion. Then there was the Stimulus Package at $787 billion. Then there was the Omnibus Spending Bill at $410 billion. Currently, the national debt stands at $11.5 trillion, and the deficit for the current fiscal year is projected to be close to $2 trillion. Out of that $2 trillion, Obama is responsible for over $1.5 trillion [$350 + $787 + $410 = $1,547].

Then there was the TALF (Term Asset-Backed Securities Loan Facility) and the PPIP (Public-Private Investment Program), currently being funded out of TARP funds, but which the Treasury and Fed have said in the next phase could increase to as much as $1 trillion in cost. Then there is the Budget for fiscal year 2010 at $3.6 trillion, which includes $150 billion for funding "green" energy sources, and $634 billion towards the introduction of universal health care, both of which are new and unfunded programs. That $3.6 trillion budget also includes a $770 billion proposed "tax cut" for working families. But since 50%+ of the American people already pay no income taxes, that means that for most, the "tax cut" will really be nothing more than a direct subsidy, which by the way, is also unfunded. And for those who actually do get a legitimate tax cut, the government will have to make up the difference by replacing the loss in revenue with deficit spending elsewhere.

Then there are the Bush tax cuts which are set to expire in 2010. They will not be renewed, so that will result in a "real" tax increase, and it will affect people who make less than $250,000 per year. Then there is the Energy-Climate Bill, which different studies have estimated will cost the average household between $170 and $1,400 per year. But those are only the direct costs in energy price increases. It does not include the hidden costs of higher prices for goods and services that everyone will have to pay when businesses pass on their increased costs to the consumer.

Despite what anyone says to the contrary, these are all TAXES. Obama has raised taxes by over $1.5 trillion for the current fiscal year, and intends to raise taxes next year by at least $784 billion, plus whatever is spent on TALF and PPIP, plus whatever costs we incur from the Energy-Climate Bill. They might not look like taxes, but they are taxes nonetheless -- delayed or hidden taxes.

Do the American people want higher taxes? I don't think so. Simply ask any American if they want to pay higher taxes. The vast majority will most assuredly say "NO". But that's what Congress is giving us -- higher taxes. And to add insult to injury, these bills have been flying through Congress without anyone reading them.

So I think it's only fair to ask if we, the American people, are actually being represented in Congress. Yes, there are people in Congress who have been elected to represent us, but are they really representing our interests? I don't think so. If the minority party is powerless to stop the majority party, and the majority party is passing bills without even reading them, then where is our representation? If the American people don't want higher taxes, but that's what Congress is giving us, then where is our representation?

I think it's time to revive that old refrain: "No Taxation Without Representation!"

July 06, 2009

Lest We Forget

Leonard Slatkin Conducts the BBC Orchestra on September 15, 2001 in honor of those who lost their lives on 9/11. Visuals are from BBC's 'Last Night of the Proms' and ABC's 'Report From Ground Zero'...

July 03, 2009

Wyoming Roundup - Part 2

The saga continues. Remember, you can click all pictures to enlarge...

There are some pleasant parks around Cheyenne, including those where the steam locomotives were on display. We spent some time sitting and reading in the Botanical Gardens at Lion's Park. The weather was simply delightful: low 70s with a light breeze blowing. The only problem is that I was reading Glenn Beck's new book "Common Sense", and naturally I began to get irritated about the direction in which our country is headed. I had to put the book down so I could enjoy my day...

Botanical Gardens - Cheyenne, Wyoming

Lion's Park lake walk - Cheyenne, Wyoming

On Monday, June 29th, we left Cheyenne for Laramie, Wyoming. We decided not to jump right onto I-80, but to take the "scenic route". I'm glad we did, because it was well worth it. We got onto Wyoming Highway 210 near the F.E. Warren Air Force Base and travelled west. We ran into some construction, but were in no hurry.

We also passed a huge wind farm which is still under construction. According to a 2008 article in the Wyoming Tribune Eagle, the original installation included 14 turbines that would provide 100 million kilowatt-hours per year, or enough for 8,500 homes per year. But we must have seen nearly 50 or 60 wind turbines installed and operational. And there seemed to be nearly as many in the early stages of erection. The following photo came from an NPR article and the picture's caption speaks of a windfarm "west of Cheyenne". This may be the one we passed, but we never saw any storm clouds...

Wind Farm west of Cheyenne, Wyoming

But the real scenic views emerged when we entered the foothills of the Laramie Mountains. Unusual outcroppings of rock started appearing out of the prairie grasslands, like the one in the following picture near the office of Curt Gowdy State Park. There are two beautiful blue reservoirs in the park, one of which could be seen from the road. I should have gone back to take a picture, but we decided to press on.

Outcropping near Curt Gowdy State Park, Wyoming

A little further on and we came to Medicine Bow National Forest. The panoramas were terrific...

Medicine Bow National Forest, Wyoming

Finally Highway 210 merges with I-80, and it does so at the point where I-80 is at its highest elevation above sea level. I-80 at this point is actually a part of the old Lincoln Highway, and there is a monument to Lincoln located there...

Lincoln Monument - Wyoming

Lincoln Monument closeup - Wyoming

View from Lincoln Monument - Wyoming

The approach into Laramie was spectacular. Laramie sits in a wide flat valley between the Snowy Mountains to the west and the Laramie Mountains to the east. Picture yourself driving down the mountain with Laramie in the foreground, snow-capped mountains in the background, and the lush greenery of the valley surrounding Laramie as far the eye can see. Wyoming really is "big sky country". Unfortunately I couldn't stop to take a picture because the interstate was busy and the shoulders were pretty narrow.

In Laramie, we visited the Wyoming Territorial Prison, a historic site which has been renovated to appear as it did in 1872. Butch Cassidy was one of the prison's more famous inmates...

Wyoming Territorial Prison - Laramie, Wyoming

Prisoner Transport - Laramie, Wyoming

Photo of Butch Cassidy - Laramie, Wyoming

Butch Cassidy (seated right) & Sundance Kid (seated left)

As we drove around Laramie, we found a newer neighborhood up on a hilltop with a nice view...

Hilltop view - Laramie, Wyoming

We had lunch in the historic district at a place called the Altitude Chophouse and Brewery. I tried the "7200 Foot Stout", an extra dark, rich and creamy brew with notes of coffee and chocolate. It was a bit too sweet to have another, so I finished with an American Wheat beer which, in the tradition of the German Hefeweizen, was unfiltered. Mrs Hawkeye went for the Summer Ale, with a rich amber color and something of a fruity note.

After scouting out Laramie, we decided to scratch it from our list of potential retirement locations. It didn't seem to have as much to offer as Cheyenne. The buildings in the historic district were rather plain without much character. Although there were some nice areas with tree-lined streets and well-kept yards, the houses seemed remarkably tiny to us. There were larger homes in one of the newer outlying hilltop developments, but it seemed a bit odd and out of place. As you can imagine, we were left a bit disappointed.

On Tuesday, June 30th, we decided not to head directly back to Denver as originally planned. Instead, we took a detour to the city of Estes Park and Rocky Mountain National Park. To get there, we took the 25 mile winding road through the Big Thompson Canyon. I didn't stop for a picture, so I got the following photo off the internet. But pictures just can't do justice to this canyon. It is very narrow and the walls are nearly vertical on each side for what seems like hundreds of feet.

Big Thompson Canyon - Colorado

In Estes Park, we visited the Stanley Hotel where they filmed "The Shining" with Jack Nicholson. My daughter was there last year and got a complete tour of the place. They say it really is haunted...

The Stanley Hotel - Estes Park, Colorado

View from The Stanley - Estes Park, Colorado

Of course, Rocky Mountain National Park has some spectacular scenery. I stitched together two pics to make up the panoramic scene. I think it's worth enlarging. Too bad I had to spoil the view by getting into the last picture...

Rocky Mountain National Park - Colorado

Stitched Panorama - Rocky Mt. National Park

We flew home from Denver the next day.

Wyoming Roundup - Part 1

Doesn't that sound like a good title for a report on my trip to Wyoming? You'd think I was out there "roundin' up" some stray cattle or somethin'. No such luck... (:D) ...Anyway, here goes. Almost all of the pictures can be enlarged by clicking on them...

We flew into Denver Colorado on the morning of Friday, June 26th. We had hopes of seeing the United States Mint, but were disappointed to find out that you have to make reservations for a tour more than two months in advance. Who knew...

U.S. Mint at Denver

Since we couldn't get into the mint, we decided to go to the Denver Art Museum, which was only a few blocks away. The museum was designed by architect Daniel Libeskind, the designated Master Planner of the World Trade Center Memorial Site.

Denver Art Museum

After we paid the price of admission, we were greeted by an enthusiastic elderly woman who asked us if we wanted to join her on an "architectural tour". The tour was designed to make the visitor aware of all the various architectural features in the museum. Since I'm kind of an architecture nut, we agreed. As it turned out, our tour guide gave us a lot more than just architectural info. She pointed out some of the most interesting exhibits in the museum and provided us with a unique perspective on some of the artists and the art on display there. Lasting about an hour, it was like our own personal guided tour.

As you might imagine, the museum has a large collection of Western American Art, but they also have interesting collections of African, Asian and European art as well. They have Pre-Columbian American art, and Spanish Colonial period art too. While we were in the museum a major thunderstorm rolled through the area, and since we were not equipped with slickers or umbrellas, we ended up staying in the museum a bit longer than we intended.

Pints Pub - Near entrance

When the rains let up, we decided to have an early dinner, so we went to nearby Pints Pub. Housed in a building that was constructed in 1906, the proprietors pride themselves on creating "the unique comfort and feel of an authentic British pub". I would have to agree. Having been to more than a few pubs in London, the ambiance is wonderful.

The pub is also a brewery, and of the twelve beers on the menu, eleven of them are brewed right there on the premises. I enjoyed an "Aerdale Pale Ale" which was thoroughly refreshing on a warm day. With a medium amber color and a hoppy after taste, my only complaint was that the head disappeared a bit too quickly. Mrs Hawkeye sampled the "Bitchin' Blonde", a lighter, crisper beer along the lines of a Pilsner, but with a color somewhat darker than standard Pilsner fare. No complaints according her.

Pints Pub - West Dining Room

On Saturday morning, we headed to Cheyenne, Wyoming. We stayed at the historic Plains Hotel, which dates to 1901...

Plains Hotel - Cheyenne, Wyoming

When we arrived, we found a Celtic festival going on in full swing. The festival was being held in the Depot Plaza directly across the street from our hotel. The Depot is a historic railroad station that has been completely renovated...

Celtic Festival at Depot - Cheyenne, Wyoming

Celtic Festival & The Wrangler - Cheyenne, Wyoming

Bag-pipes fill the air - Cheyenne, Wyoming

We decided to go into the Depot to see what was going on, and found numerous exhibits displaying items of art, heritage, etc. Each of the exhibits was presented by a specific "clan". For example, there was Clan Stewart, Clan Mackay, and about ten others as well...

Inside the Depot - Cheyenne, Wyoming

Clan members in the Depot - Cheyenne, Wyoming

A portion of the Depot is dedicated to a railroad museum. Prominently featured are various photos and artifacts about the history of the Cheyenne Depot and the rail yards of Cheyenne. Apparently, Cheyenne was home to a major railroad repair facility for the Union-Pacific Railroad. There was a large "roundhouse", and several buildings alternately dedicated to locomotive repairs, box car repairs, etc. The following picture is of the original architectural drawing for the Depot which is on display in the museum...

Depot architectural drawing - Cheyenne, Wyoming

Decorated cowboy boots are on display all around the city of Cheyenne. They were supposedly part of a program to give expression to various artists. Typically they are 3 or 4 feet tall. This one, in front of the Depot is the largest one we saw, and features the "signatures" of all of Wyoming's governors...

Mrs Hawkeye & Governor Boot - Cheyenne, Wyoming

Cheyenne has some good examples of late 19th century and early 20th century architecture. Newer buildings are being designed in a style that complements the historical buildings in the area...

Historic District 1 - Cheyenne, Wyoming

Historic District 2 - Cheyenne, Wyoming

In keeping with its railroad heritage, Cheyenne has some locomotives on display. The "Big Boy" was the largest steam locomotive ever built. Most were scrapped, but there are still eight remaining examples around the country today. The 1242 or "Ol' Sadie" is the oldest locomotive in Wyoming, and one of the oldest intact locomotives ever to run in the Union-Pacific fleet. It was built in 1890, and (I was amused to learn) in Patterson, New Jersey...

Big Boy 4004 - Cheyenne, Wyoming

1242 Ol' Sadie - Cheyenne, Wyoming

We also visited the Wyoming State Capitol. In front of the main entrance is a statue of Esther Hobart Morris, the first female Justice of the Peace in the United States. She is also credited with helping in the passage of Wyoming Territory's women's suffrage amendment in December 1869, but her role has been disputed. She became the first female Justice of the Peace when her predecessor resigned over the women's suffrage amendment. She later played a prominent role in the suffrage movement. Wyoming was the first state to give women the vote...

State Capitol - Cheyenne, Wyoming

State Capitol Entrance - Cheyenne, Wyoming

Esther Hobart Morris statue - Cheyenne, Wyoming

Around the grounds of the Wyoming State Capitol are some monuments including a Bison statue, a replica of the Liberty Bell, and a Bucking Bronco statue...

Mrs Hawkeye & Bison statue - Cheyenne, Wyoming

Hawkeye & Liberty Bell replica - Cheyenne, Wyoming

Bucking Bronco statue - Cheyenne, Wyoming

More to come in Part 2.