Free Markets, Free People

Daily Archives: December 6, 2010

Obama caves on tax cuts, liberals howl

Pretty interesting the way the GOP got its way on the Bush era tax cuts – at least  for two more years.  The minority party in both chambers of the lame duck Congress, other than demand that the Democrats give everyone a tax break, they didn’t have a whole bunch of leverage.  Until they were able to successfully block the extension of unemployment insurance.  The country was pretty divided on extending it beyond 99 weeks, but not so much that it probably wouldn’t care if that extension was okayed at some later date. 

And thus was set up the perfect opportunity to trade that extension for an extension of the Bush era tax cuts for everyone.  So in sum, step one, block extension of unemployment insurance.  Step two, use unemployment insurance extension as a bargaining chip. Step three, the GOP gets what it wants to begin with plus a lowering of payroll taxes as well.  Meanwhile they “give away” what they’d have probably ended up voting for at some future point.  And most likely Obama will get little credit for the trade.

Freakin’ amazing.

Obama also conceded to the GOP’s estate tax and dividends and capital gains demands as well.  And here’s the really fun part – by announcing his “framework”, Obama made it official – this is what I want, this is what I negotiated, now Congress do your thing:

"We cannot play politics at a time when the American people are looking for us to solve problems," Obama told reporters. "I am confident ultimately that Congress is going to do the right thing."

Can’t play politics?  This has been a lesson in politics.

That’s the DEMOCRATIC Congress he’s talking about, by the way.  A Democratic majority in the House and a Democratic majority in the Senate.  The GOP is already on board with this, as announced by the President.  So what’s left to do?

Pass the compromise in both the House and Senate, Democrats. 

So, you say, what if the Dems bow up and refuse to pass it?  Well, the unemployment extension, something the GOP is now for will not pass.  Additionally, all of the Bush era tax cuts will expire which will mean tax increases across the board for all income levels.  All.  Everyone.  Not just the “rich”, but the middle class as well.

And who will be the bad guys? 

Well, not the GOP.  From a purely political perspective, pretty impressive if I do say so myself.

The liberal side of the housenot so happy.  Not so happy at all.

~McQ

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Kill the lame duck

You know, I got to thinking about the fact that many of those who will be deciding on legislation in the lame duck session of Congress were summarily kicked out of their seats by voters on Nov. 2nd.  While it may not be “the law”, I suggest that the voters who ousted these Representatives and Senators do not consider the person currently occupying the seat in the lame duck Congress to represent them.  After all, that’s why they voted in the majority to get rid of them.

So why are they then allowed to retain their seats until some future arbitrary date?  How can they, as soon to be ex-members voted out by their constituents, represent anyone?  Now I understand that some are retiring that that’s a bit different.  But leaving defeated members in their seats is an invitation to mischief.  For instance, Bob Bennett, a Republican Senator who was defeated in the primary is in the Senate today saying he’d probably vote for the DREAM act if it comes to the floor as a stand alone bill.  It is precisely that sort of prior voting that has Bennett seeking employment on K Street.

Orin Hatch, on the other hand, has a date with the voters in 2012 and, after previously supporting it, is running from the DREAM act as hard as he can.  He’s still accountable to them.  Bennett is accountable to no one.

As you can tell, I’m not a big fan of lame duck Congressional sessions.  And I think my reason is valid.  Nothing says seating a new Congress has to be put off until the following year (and if there is anything, it can be changed).  I think the decision of the voters should be final and quickly implemented. 

It would save us all this drama and nonsense going on now.  It would quickly allow the new majority to begin working on its priorities.  And it would get the dead-wood ex-Congresspersons to hell out of DC or at least off to a different part of it.

A lame duck Congress just has too much of an ability to do precisely what this one is attempting – pass party priorities that are not popular with the voters but for those who’ve been voted out of office, carry no penalty for supporting them.  It’s a can’t lose for ideologues such as Pelosi and Reid who can push their agenda and count on certain votes that perhaps weren’t necessarily votes they could count on before.

It makes no sense to me.  But then there are a lot of things about government that make no sense.

Kill the lame duck.

~McQ

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Natural disaster? It’s capitalism’s fault …

Strongman Hugo Chavez says the flooding in Venezuela that has resulted in 70,000 homeless and 32 deaths is easy to understand.  It’s the result of “criminal capitalism” and it’s effect on the world’s climate:

"The developed nations irresponsibly shatter the environmental order, in their desire to maintain a criminal development model while the immense majority of the earth’s people suffer the most terrible consequences," he said on Venezuelan television Sunday.

You may be wondering why this sort of stupidity is even worth mentioning.  It is worth mentioning because it is a sterling example of the nonsense that has been precipitated by AGW scaremongering that I discuss below.  This is a dictator’s excuse, however absurd it sounds, for his regime’s inability to control the flooding in his country. 

"The world’s powerful economies insist on a destructive way of life,” he said on Sunday. "And then refuse to take any responsibility."

I’m sure it doesn’t take much imagination to figure out what taking "responsibility" would mean. In the past this would be viewed as another in a long line of failed socialist dictators who, because of their crippling of their country’s economy, have rendered unable to cope with natural disasters. But with the convenient excuse of AGW to pin the blame on, and by extension the richer nations, shifting the blame is a natural.

Any bets as to whether this will be a topic in Cancun?

~McQ

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The AGW summit in Cancun–“ritualized scaremongering?”

While what David Rose of the Mail calls “another giant, 15,000 delegate UN climate jamboree” is underway in Cancun Mexico, the British press is hard at it again, pointing out that in the world of AGW there’s just no “there there”.   As an example, Rose and others point to the Met Office and its claims:

A year ago tomorrow, just before the opening of the UN Copenhagen world climate summit, the British Meteorological Office issued a confident prediction. The mean world temperature for 2010, it announced, ‘is expected to be 14.58C, the warmest on record’ – a deeply worrying 0.58C above the 1961-1990 average.

World temperatures, it went on, were locked inexorably into an ever-rising trend: ‘Our experimental decadal forecast confirms previous indications that about half the years 2010-2019 will be warmer than the warmest year observed so far – 1998.’

Met Office officials openly boasted that they hoped by their statements to persuade the Copenhagen gathering to impose new and stringent carbon emission limits – an ambition that was not to be met.

[…]

Never mind that Britain, just as it was last winter and the winter before, was deep in the grip of a cold snap, which has seen some temperatures plummet to minus 20C, and that here 2010 has been the coolest year since 1996.

Globally, it insisted, 2010 was still on course to be the warmest or second warmest year since current records began.

But buried amid the details of those two Met Office statements 12 months apart lies a remarkable climbdown that has huge implications – not just for the Met Office, but for debate over climate change as a whole.

Read carefully with other official data, they conceal a truth that for some, to paraphrase former US VicePresident Al Gore, is really inconvenient: for the past 15 years, global warming has stopped.

Of course, that won’t stop the “jamboree” from recommending the looting of the “richer” nations to help the “poorer” nations with “global warming”.  After all, that’s what the meeting is really all about.  Just as Democrats are all about income redistribution and “taxing the rich” in this country, their counterparts in the world body are obsessed with the same.  AGW is the perfect pseudo-scientific cause on which to pin the extortion.

In fact, say the Brits, 2010 was an “unexceptional El Nino” year

As for that infamous “scientific consensus?”  Not so much any more:

But little by little, the supposedly settled scientific ‘ consensus’ that the temperature rise is unprecedented, that it is set to continue to disastrous levels, and that it is all the fault of human beings, is starting to fray.

Earlier this year, a paper by Michael Mann – for years a leading light in the IPCC, and the author of the infamous ‘hockey stick graph’ showing flat temperatures for 2,000 years until the recent dizzying increase – made an extraordinary admission: that, as his critics had always claimed, there had indeed been a ‘ medieval warm period’ around 1000 AD, when the world may well have been hotter than it is now.

Other research is beginning to show that cyclical changes in water vapour – a much more powerful greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide – may account for much of the 20th Century warming.

Even Phil Jones, the CRU director at the centre of last year’s ‘Climategate’ leaked email scandal, was forced to admit in a littlenoticed BBC online interview that there has been ‘no statistically significant warming’ since 1995.

That’s not to say the true believers (or deceivers, take your pick) aren’t going to continue to try – especially with the “jamboree” going on.  Christopher Booker of the Telegraph reports:

Between their tequilas and lavish meals paid for by the world’s taxpayers, they heard how, by 2060, global temperatures will have risen by 4 degrees Celsius; how the Maldives and Tuvalu are sinking below the waves faster than ever; how the survival of salmon is threatened by CO2-induced acidification of the oceans; how the UN must ban incandescent light bulbs throughout the world.

“Scientists”, we were told, are calling for everyone to be issued with a “carbon ration card”, to halt all Western economic growth for 20 years.

Meanwhile, Dr Rajendra Pachauri was telling us that we must spend hundreds of billions on covering the world’s oceans with iron filings, on building giant mirrors out in space and on painting all the world’s roofs white to keep out the heat from the sun.

The most obvious thing about all this ritualised scaremongering was how stale it all was. Not one of these points hasn’t been a cliche for years.The only scientist who believes we should all be issued with carbon ration cards is a Prof Kevin Anderson, who has been saying it since 2004. It is only those same old computer models that predict that Tuvalu and the Maldives are about to drown, when real measurements show the sea around them not to be rising at all. Far from the oceans acidifying, their pH currently ranges between 7.9 and 8.3, putting them very firmly on the alkaline side of the threshold, at 7.0.

The prediction that global temperatures will rise by four degrees in 50 years comes from that same UK Met Office computer which five weeks ago was telling us we were about to enjoy a “milder than average” winter, after three years when it has consistently got every one of its winter and summer forecasts hopelessly wrong. (And the reason why our local authorities are already fast running out of salt is that they were silly enough to believe them.)

Wonderful stuff, eh?  Oh, and speaking of the Met Office’s ‘mild winter prediction’ even when wrong “scientists” see an opportunity to push the AGW argument:

RESEARCHERS have warned the last three winters’ cold spells could be a taste of things to come for Wales – with even a chance glaciers could return to Snowdon within 40 years.

According to one theory, global warming could paradoxically trigger a collapse in temperatures in Western Europe.

There’s always that “one theory” which will, even paradoxically, doggedly try to pin even bitterly cold temperatures on “global warming”.  It’s a religion, I tell you, not science.

Some truths most of us have learned while following this is 1) the real science is far from settled, 2) the climate is far more complex and still barely understood, and consequently the present day computer models and their predictions are less than useless, 3) the fact that temperatures have remained flat over the past 15 years with a slight trend toward cooling has blown the predictive models out of the water, 4) until there is much better science (and if based in models, models that can at least replicate past climate results) no major public policy initiatives – initiatives that would most likely spend money we don’t have and have a crippling effect on the economy – should be undertaken.  And finally 5) alternative renewable and clean energy sources should be pursued with vigor, but until they’re viable and cheap, traditional fuel sources should be exploited to the maximum (with government getting the heck out of the way).

Of course the Third World Debating Society, aka the UN, won’t leave this scam alone until they manage to rope the richer nations into it and bleed them of a few hundred billion or so.  If ever there was a time to adapt the Nancy Reagan drug slogan to other duty it is now.

“Just say ‘no’.”

~McQ

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