Free Markets, Free People

Monthly Archives: January 2011

Air superiority and national security–two concepts that go hand-in-hand

"There has not been a single soldier or Marine who lost his life in combat due to a threat from the air in over 56 years."

Let that statement sink in for a minute. The reason we’ve not lost a single soldier or Marine to enemy air is we’ve maintained such a dominant edge in both technology, ability and numbers that no enemy has been able to challenge our dominance of the air over any battlefield on which we’ve fought since Korea.

The military defines air superiority as "that degree of dominance in the air battle of one force over another which permits the conduct of operations by the former and its related land, sea, and air forces at a given time and place without prohibitive interference by the opposing force.”

But that dominance and superiority in the air are in serious jeopardy.  In our drive to cut budgets, we are about to cut capability instead of costs.  And that could result in a serious threat to the war fighting ability of our military and  eventually threaten our national security.  There is a developing fighter gap and if it continues as it is presently proceeding, it may be unrecoverable.

A short digression to make a point.  There are two basic types of fighter aircraft in our inventory today.  One is the air superiority fighter. Its job is to establish and maintain air superiority so that opposing aircraft don’t pose a threat to other air operations and our ground forces.  Imagine how difficult the use of attack helicopters would be in support of ground operations if the enemy was the superior force in the air.  So that air superiority fighter works to keep the skies clear of enemy fighters to allow the second type of fighter to work under that umbrella.  That’s something we’ve successfully done for 56 years.

That second type of fighters is the strike fighter which is usually a multirole fighter with a mission of support for ground operations. They can deliver close air support or go deep and hit key targets that will help cripple the enemy’s ability to fight.

At the moment, we have a fleet of 4th generation air superiority fighters (F15’s, etc.) that numbers about 800.  Those fighters have reached the end of their service life and technology has advanced such that their effectiveness has been badly degraded.  The F-22 Raptor, a 5th generation air superiority fighter, was developed to replace the aging 4th generation fleet, and the original plan was to buy 700 of them.

The aircraft is expensive at over $300 million a copy, but it is the most advanced fighter aircraft in the world and maintains our edge over would be competitors/enemies. But with cuts in the budget becoming a priority, the Defense Department made the decision to limit the number of F-22’s it would buy to 187 and then shut down production. 187 5th generation air superiority fighters doesn’t even begin to replace the 800 4th generation fighters we have.  In fact, the Air Force has conducted over 30 studies which all agree the bare minimum that the Air Force needs to maintain a minimal air superiority capability is 260 F-22s. But the last F-22 has been made, the production line is shutting down and the high paying jobs it created going away.

We’re seeing much the same scenario played out with the other critical player in our fighter future – the F-35. Designed as a multi-role joint strike fighter, the F-35 brings advanced stealth and other technology to the strike fighter role.  As with any developmental aircraft it has had its share of problems, but now seems to be on course to fulfill the promise it holds to deliver an aircraft superior to all the other strike aircraft in the world.

But again, we see talk about cutting capability in the name of cutting cost.  The promised number to be purchased both by the US and it’s 7 partners continues to shrink.  We’re being told we can’t "afford" the F-35. The real question, given the possible ramifications of having too few survivable air superiority or strike fighters is can we afford not to buy them?

Certainly we can "upgrade" the non-stealthy and aged 4th generation fighters. But the emergence of competitive 5th generation fighters in Russia (T-50) and China (J-20) mean that as soon as the competitive aircraft are fielded, our pilots flying those old fighters are essentially cannon fodder and our ground troops become vulnerable.

While it is certain cutbacks in defense spending are necessary, they must not jeopardize our military’s survival or our national security. 5th generation air superiority and strike fighters are critical to both.

Those making the hard budget decisions to come must remember the opening line above.  Air superiority and the ability to deliver ordnance and survive are critical tasks that cannot be "cut" for austerity’s sake.  And we must ensure our military not only has the best fighters we can produce, but enough of them to do their mission of keeping our nation secure.

[First published in the Washington Examiner]

~McQ

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The obligatory Keith Olbermann post–quit or canned?

Actually who cares?  But it is an interesting question – perhaps the most interesting thing about the whole situation.  That Olbermann is off the air, at least temporarily, bothers me not one whit.  But we all know he’ll end up resurfacing somewhere.  Maybe CNN who he helped into third place by getting MSNBC to “lean forward”.  Heh …

So to the question at hand, you can find commentary which claims both – he quit, he was fired.  Howard Kurtz says he quit

Many are pointing to these words as an indication that he was fired:

Olbermann said he had been “told that this is the last edition of your show” and thanked his audience, saying: “My gratitude to you is boundless.”

Eh, not necessarily.  He had gotten a 4 year extension on his contract in 2008 and reports say he reached an agreement with management over the remaining part of that deal.  So it is possible he told them he was quitting and as soon as the agreement was reached, he was told, “we’re done – tonight’s the night”.

But it does point to something that was pretty well known – he was a pain in the ass employee who was constantly at war with management.  No matter how good you are, when you’re a PITA, you aren’t as untouchable as you think.  Olbermann may have found that out.

Anyway more of the story will come out over the next few weeks.  Suffice it say, much of the right won’t miss him at all, but the lefty blogs are pretty bummed by the whole deal.  I forget which one praised him as “an unapologetic liberal” who finally – FINALLY—brought the liberal perspective to air and showed it would pay (i.e. make money).

A little bit of opinion on that – what he did was provide good theater.  He was an angry guy spouting angry stuff and pushing the envelope in that regard.  There were many on the right who watched him specifically because he was outrageous and entertaining – a guilty pleasure.  Selling his nonsense?  Eh, not so much.  The echo chamber on the left nodded their head and those on the right who watched loved to lambast his talking points.  And interestingly, becoming the “Worst Person in the World” became a badge of honor and a competition on the right.  But was he persuasive?  Probably not.

Ah well, like I said, he’ll pop up again somewhere.  Dan Rather says there’s an opening at HD Net? 

Perfect.

Of course Iowahawk has heard that he was contacted by the North Korean News Agency about a little work there – apparently they’re looking for a personality that would help them tone-down their rhetoric.

Heh …

~McQ

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Embarrassing–edited clip used to contend Glenn Beck said something he didn’t

As I observe the "civil discourse" debate, I’ve pointed out the left seems peerless in their ability to be uncivil. And opinions like mine have sent the left scurrying to find some example that would rebut that conclusion – something so outrageous that it would force those on the right, like me, to abandon the premise and admit the right is just as bad.

And yesterday I thought they may have found it.   Today, not so much.  The subject is a segment by Glenn Beck.  Full disclosure – I don’t watch Glenn Beck.  I don’t listen to Glenn Beck.  So I was open to the argument that he might have said something that would indeed provide an example of the rhetoric some folks on the left were attributing to him. 

Here’s the snippet of a Beck segment that some lefty sites have been using to make their claim:

"Tea parties believe in small government. We believe in returning to the principles of our Founding Fathers. We respect them. We revere them. Shoot me in the head before I stop talking about the Founders. Shoot me in the head if you try to change our government.

"I will stand against you and so will millions of others. We believe in something. You in the media and most in Washington don’t. The radicals that you and Washington have co-opted and brought in wearing sheep’s clothing — change the pose. You will get the ends.

"You’ve been using them? They believe in communism. They believe and have called for a revolution. You’re going to have to shoot them in the head. But warning, they may shoot you.

"They are dangerous because they believe. Karl Marx is their George Washington. You will never change their mind. And if they feel you have lied to them — they’re revolutionaries. Nancy Pelosi, those are the people you should be worried about.

"Here is my advice when you’re dealing with people who believe in something that strongly — you take them seriously. You listen to their words and you believe that they will follow up with what they say."

Oh my, Beck is saying "shoot them in the head" (assuming the “them” is the left and he’s instructing his viewers to do so). Well at least on the first quick pass. But then, when you read it for meaning, it just doesn’t quite add up. It is the way it is worded. It seems to be saying what the left claims it says, but not really.   You’re left not quite believing it.

Enter Patterico who does what apparently the left wasn’t able to do – or found inconvenient to do: obtain the entire segment’s transcript. Make sure you read it all.

In a word, it provides context. I know, what a concept, eh? And it completely demolishes the contention claimed by the left. They really didn’t want to look beyond the snippet of words they had. Context was inconvenient to their disingenuous claim. In fact, it flips it on its head.

When you read the entire segment, you suddenly realize who Beck is talking about – and it isn’t an incitement to the right to go shoot anyone in the head as the lefty sites insist.

As Dan McLaughlin notes the "you" Beck talks about is the Democratic leadership in Congress. And McLaughlin says:

I’m almost embarrassed for anybody gullible enough that they fell for this one.

Yup. I’m not surprised, naturally.  But I’d be embarrassed.  And that doesn’t even begin to address those who used this to try to spin it into something it isn’t.  In their case it isn’t about “embarrassment” but about their credibility. 

Of course I’d be interested to hear the opinion of those who eschewed context in this case to comment on something Paul Kanjorski said. You know Kanjorski – the former Democratic Congressman who had to temerity to publish a piece in the NY Times lecturing the rest of us on "civil discourse" in the wake of the Giffords’ shooting? A few months back, speaking of then FL candidate for governor Rick Scott, he said:

"Instead of running for governor of Florida, they ought to have him and shoot him. Put him against the wall and shoot him. He stole billions of dollars from the United States government and he’s running for governor of Florida.

The context of the quote is he was upset that a guy who was involved with a company that was involved with one of the largest Medicare and Medicaid fraud scandals in history wasn’t in jail.  Legit bitch, but even in that context, does it excuse the language? I mean if you want to be internally consistent and all.

The left? Crickets.

And in the realm of inciteful and violent rhetoric, it kinda makes the Palin cross-hairs map seem, oh, I don’t know, silly in comparison, doesn’t it?

So?  So the left remains peerless in the rhetoric realm and are also adding to their lead in the “deceitful claims” department as well.

~McQ

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College students not being taught critical thinking skills–does that surprise you?

A recently published study has found that many college and university students aren’t taught critical thinking skills while enrolled in their course of study. The study "followed 2,322 traditional-age students from the fall of 2005 to the spring of 2009 and examined testing data and student surveys at a broad range of 24 U.S. colleges and universities, from the highly selective to the less selective."

What they found was that about 45% of those students showed no significant improvement in their critical thinking skills during the first two years of enrollment.  After 4 years, 35% showed no significant improvement.

The study is unique in that it is the first time a group of students was followed through their college careers to determine if they learned specific skills.  As might be expected, academia is not at all pleased with the results.

"These findings are extremely valuable for those of us deeply concerned about the state of undergraduate learning and student intellectual engagement," said Brian D. Casey, the president of DePauw University in Greencastle, Ind. "They will surely shape discussions about curriculum and campus life for years to come."

The students involved in the study were tested using a standard test used to measure critical thinking ability:

The study used data from the Collegiate Learning Assessment, a 90-minute essay-type test that attempts to measure what liberal arts colleges teach and that more than 400 colleges and universities have used since 2002. The test is voluntary and includes real world problem-solving tasks, such as determining the cause of an airplane crash, that require reading and analyzing documents from newspaper articles to government reports.

As noted a significant number of students were unable to break out fact from opinion, make a clear written argument or "objectively review conflicting reports of a situation or event", the study found. In fact those students who fell into this category had a tendency to be swayed by emotion and political spin.

An interesting finding of the study was that students majored in liberal arts courses of study were more likely to develop critical thinking skills than were those that majored in courses of study such as business, education, social work and communications.

Other findings were that students who study alone, rather than in groups, tend to develop critical thinking skills and that courses (such as the liberal arts) which require heavy loads of reading and writing also help develop those skills.

Obviously the answer, if the study is to be believed, is to increase the reading and writing workload of all students. The study found some obvious problems as it is today in many of the universities and colleges included:

The study’s authors also found that large numbers of students didn’t enroll in courses requiring substantial work. In a typical semester, a third of students took no courses with more than 40 pages of reading per week. Half didn’t take a single course in which they wrote more than 20 pages over the semester.

While it would be easy to fob this off on students seeking the easiest path to graduation, it is the school that puts the curriculum together and designs and approves the classes taught. The bottom line is the school is being paid handsomely to turn out graduates that can indeed think critically – a skill in high demand everywhere. Failing in that area at the percentages noted isn’t a student problem – it is a problem of academia.

The findings shot that colleges need to be acutely aware of how instruction relates to the learning of critical-thinking and related skills, said Daniel J. Bradley, the president of Indiana State University and one of 71 college presidents who recently signed a pledge to improve student learning.

"We haven’t spent enough time making sure we are indeed teaching — and students are learning — these skills," Bradley said.

Indeed.  And it appears a "back to basics" approach would be most appropriate to bring the students not being taught those skills up to the level they need to be when they graduate. That means tough courses which test those skills routinely. That also means more work for those teaching the courses.  The question is will colleges and universities take these findings seriously and do the work for which they are being paid? Or will it, despite the rhetoric to the contrary, remain as it is today, with universities and colleges turning out a high percentage of graduates for whom critical thinking is still an unknown skill?

~McQ

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House repeals ObamaCare and Democrats are, well, acting like Democrats

The Republican controlled House kept its promise and repealed ObamaCare with a large majority. As I’ve said in the past, symbolic or not, these types of votes must be made. Republicans must raise the issue in the House, vote on it and make the Democratic controlled Senate kill it or, if it happens to somehow slip through the Senate, make Obama veto it. Again, it’s about the record – and for once in his life, Obama is actually going to have to run on one in 2012.

That said, it was incredible to listen to Democrats attempt to justify Obamacare yesterday. They are our lawmakers. Yet it became apparent yesterday, at least listening to a few of them, that they simply don’t know their business or what they’re talking about.

Take Shelia Jackson Lee for instance:

"Frankly, I would just say to you, this is about saving lives. Jobs are very important; we created jobs," Jackson Lee said. "But even the title of their legislation, H.R. 2, ‘job-killing’ — this is killing Americans if we take this away, if we repeal this bill."

So, Republicans are "killing Americans" with repeal. There’s that civil discourse right when it is necessary, no?

But that wasn’t the worst of her mutterings:

Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, a Democrat from Texas, said on Tuesday afternoon that repealing the national health care law would violate the Constitution.

Arguing that the Commerce Clause provides the constitutional basis for ObamaCare, Jackson Lee said repealing the law by passing Republicans’ H.R. 2 violates both the Fifth Amendment’s right to due process and the Fourteenth Amendment’s equal protection clause.

Say what?  Frankly, anyone with a elementary school civics class under their belt could see thorough this convoluted and daft bit of nonsense. The ignorance in that “argument” (not to mention the logic) is appalling.  But it seemed to be a sort of desperation talking point that some Democrats adopted as their “defense” of the law.  John Lewis also invoked the 14th Amendment as a reason for keeping ObamaCare – oh, and the Declaration of Independence thinking he was quoting the preamble to the Constitution:

“Well, when you start off with the Preamble of the Constitution, you talk about the pursuit of happiness," said Lewis. "You go to the 14th Amendment–it’s equal protection under the law and we have not repealed the 14th Amendment. People have a right to have health care. It’s not a privilege but a right."

Of course it’s not the Preamble to the Constitution that talks about the “pursuit of happiness” at all, it’s the Declaration of Independence.  You’d think a lawmaker would know that.  But then you’d also think he’d know what constitutes a “right” and what doesn’t wouldn’t you?  Obviously though, that’s hoping for too much.

Some Democrats insisted on civil discourse to broadcast their unhappiness with the Republican effort to repeal ObamaCare.  Like Rep. Steve Cohen:

“They say it’s a government takeover of health care, a big lie just like Goebbels," Cohen said. "You say it enough, you repeat the lie, you repeat the lie, and eventually, people believe it.  Like blood libel.  That’s the same kind of thing. “

[…]

“The Germans said enough about the Jews and people believed it–believed it and you have the Holocaust.  We heard on this floor, government takeover of health care.  Politifact said the biggest lie of 2010 was a government takeover of health care because there is no government takeover,"

Yup … Democrats can jam something through that the American people were clear they didn’t want using every Parliamentary trick in the book, but when the GOP steps up to repeal it, they’re Nazis.  Nice Steve – really nice.  You sound like Alan Grayson.

Speaking of Alan Grayson, he’s still puking up nonsense.  Apparently he didn’t get the memo that the “blame Sarah Palin for Tucson” narrative is a big FAIL.  You remember Mr. Civil Discourse, don’t you?  The guy who said “"If you get sick, America, the Republican health care plan is this: Die quickly?"  Yeah, him:

"As I observed on MSNBC last week, there has been a stream of violence and threats of violence by the right wing against Democrats," Grayson wrote in the email. "Gabby warned against it, and then became a terrible victim of it. Palin has instigated it, and then tried to pretend that it doesn’t exist,” he wrote."

And as most of us observed while you were in Congress, to include the voters in your former district, you’re a loon, Mr. Grayson.  However he’s a loon who somehow found his way to Congress for a while.  Says something about our low standards, doesn’t it?  And it also points to how seriously Democrats are about embracing “civil discourse”, wouldn’t you say?

~McQ

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Reality check: About that “regulatory review”– don’t believe it

With much fanfare, President Obama announced an executive order which directs a regulatory review that ostensibly will remove conflicting, unnecessary and onerous regulations, streamline the reporting process by moving much of it online and further, get rid of regulations that aren’t needed and are impeding business from hiring.

That’s the official line, or should I say, ‘spin’.  However, as Conn Carroll points out over at the Heritage Foundation, some context should be given this airy promise.  And when put in perspective, it again points to an administration on the one hand saying one thing and on the other doing exactly the opposite.

In fiscal year 2010, the first full fiscal year under the Obama Administration, the federal government issued 43 major new regulations. According to the Administration’s own estimates, the total cost of these rules was $28 billion. Only two of the new rules reduced measured regulatory costs, and then by only $1.5 billion. On net, the Obama Administration inflicted $26.5 billion in new regulatory costs on the economy last year, an all-time record. This was on top of the $1.75 trillion in existing regulatory costs already inflicted on the U.S. economy by the federal government.

[…]

The 2,319-page financial regulation bill requires 243 new formal rule-makings by 11 different federal agencies. The 2,700-page Obamacare bill contains more than 1,000 instances where Congress instructed Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to regulate the health care industry. And, in the ultimate example of power-hungry federal regulators providing “solutions” where no problem currently exists, for the first time in the history of the Internet, the federal government will begin to regulate service providers with “net neutrality” regulations.

Message?  Take this Obama promise with a grain of salt.  It’s more posturing than reality.  Don’t believe me?  Well the devil’s in the details isn’t it?

Analysis of the EO Obama signed says nothing real will be happening, and if it does, it won’t be soon.  And then there are the exemptions:

First of all, the President’s executive order doesn’t actually require federal agencies to identify harmful regulations during the next 120 days. It merely requires that they submit a “preliminary plan” for reviewing regulations sometime in the future. This is not an order to reduce a single regulation. It is an order to plan to plan to maybe someday reduce regulations! Second, the order exempts “independent” agencies like the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Federal Communications Commission, and the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Finally, even if an existing rule is found that stifles job creation, it will take years to actually repeal it. Kauffman Foundation Vice President Robert Litan tells The New York Times: “It’s more of a talking point than a policy. Even if you find a rule you don’t like, and they probably will, then they’re going to have to go through rule-making and then it’s going to take a year or two or longer.”

Triangulation has begun in earnest.  The move to the center is on.  This, like many of the administration’s programs, sounds great, but in reality it is all smoke and mirrors.  There is no real plan to identify and kill harmful regulations, there is no plan to reduce them and some of the worst offenders of onerous and intrusive regulation are exempt. 

All in a day’s work for the political propaganda machine that is the White House.  We’re now in “whatever It takes to win in 2012” whether or not it is real or even desirable, it will be promised in some form or another (just words) to make the current occupant of said White House seem more centrist and appealing.

Fool me once, shame on you …

~McQ

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Violent hateful rhetoric? The left is peerless in that realm

It appears we’re again witnessing leftist projection as those on that side of the ideological divide continue to try to sell the “violent and hateful right-wing rhetoric” canard as a reason for concern.

In fact the right can’t really hold a candle to some of the left.  Media Research Center provides a little primer.

Under the category of hateful rhetoric, see if you can guess who said this Michelle Malkin?

“…a big mashed-up bag of meat with lipstick on it.”

If you guessed Keith Olberman, give yourself a point.  Of course we could probably cite Olberman for any number of hateful diatribes but one example makes the point.

And this about then sitting (2007) VP Dick Cheney?

I’m just saying if he did die, other people, more people would live. That’s a fact.”

A little hard but not much – that would be Bill Maher, that paragon of restraint and good taste.  Maher also popped this one out there about Rush Limbaugh when Heath Ledger was found dead (2008):

Why couldn’t he have croaked from it instead of Heath Ledger?”

No cries for “civility in discourse” then, were there? 

Hateful?  Try this from Charles Karel Bouley, a San Francisco radio host on the announced death of Presidential spokesman Tony Snow from cancer:

I hear about Tony Snow and say to myself, well, stand up every day, lie to the American people at the behest of your dictator-esque boss and well, how could a cancer NOT grow in you. Work for Fox News, spinning the truth in to a billion knots and how can your gut not rot?

Yeah, “civil discourse”.

Violent rhetoric?  Any idea who said this about Congresswoman Michele Bachman in 2009?

“Slit your wrist! Go ahead! I mean, you know, why not? I mean, if you want to — or, you know, do us all a better thing. Move that knife up about two feet. I mean, start right at the collarbone.”

That would be Air America’s Montel Williams.  Had that been someone on the right we’d have heard the usual suspects on the left denounce Williams as a misogynist, etc.  Instead – crickets.

Mike Malloy, a favorite lefty radio talker on Rush Limbaugh:

“I’m waiting for the day when I pick it up, pick up a newspaper or click on the Internet and find out he’s choked to death on his own throat fat or a great big wad of saliva or something, you know, whatever. Go away, Rush, you make me sick!

That was just last year when Limbaugh was taken to the hospital with chest pains – you know, “civil discourse.” (more Malloy here)

Ed Shultz joins the civil discourse choir talking about the left’s favorite righty, Dick Cheney.  Here he lovingly wishes the former VP a happy life in 2009:

“He is an enemy of the country, in my opinion, Dick Cheney is, he is an enemy of the country….Lord, take him to the Promised Land, will you?

And in 2010, Schultz continued his enviable record of “civil discourse” when talking about Cheney and his heart problems:

“We ought to rip it out and kick it around and stuff it back in him!”

Who is “we” Mr. Schultz?

Finally, another hypocrite master of civil discourse who has been chiding the right for a couple of weeks now fantasized on the air about the death of Rush Limbaugh:

“Somebody’s going to jam a CO2 pellet into his head and he’s going to explode like a giant blimp.”

Bless their little hearts, when it comes to “civil discourse”, they are the standard, no?  And of course, as anyone who has followed the “discourse” during the Bush years (and as the examples above point out, since) they know that what is listed above is the very tip of a honking big iceberg of similar “civil discourse” from the left.

It is the primary reason I refuse to be lectured to by these people.  I’ll again make the point that they’re much less interested in “civil discourse” than they are in shutting the right up. 

Ain’t gonna work, fellas.

~McQ

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Joe Scarborough–“right-wing rage” water carrier (update)

It appears that as President Obama tries to “move to the right” with his op/ed in the WSJ today, POLITICO is also engaged in such a move with the hiring of Joe Scarborough as the righty on the site.  It is meant, one supposes, to help “center them up”.  I guess.  Joe Scarborough hasn’t ever impressed me as a good representative of the right on his MSNBC show, so I’m not sure how he’s going to help POLITICO in that regard.  But hey, it’s their call.  Maybe they don’t want a real righty, just a pretend one.

Anyway, Scarborough has decided these last two days to carry water for the “right-wing rage” crowd.  Apparently if you don’t sound like mewling mush-mouthed compromiser, you’re in a rage and Joe is here to call you out on that.  So taking on the big boys and girls (Beck and Palin), Morning Joe – who’d love to have Beck’s ratings, I’m sure – announces that he gets it.  They weren’t responsible for the Tucson shooting.  However:

But before you and the pack of right-wing polemicists who make big bucks spewing rage on a daily basis congratulate yourselves for not being responsible for Jared Lee Loughner’s rampage, I recommend taking a deep breath. Just because the dots between violent rhetoric and violent actions don’t connect in this case doesn’t mean you can afford to ignore the possibility — or, as many fear, the inevitability — that someone else will soon draw the line between them.

Uh, Joe … if the dots don’t connect in this case they don’t connect at all.  Got that?  It means whatever you’re babbling on about concerning their supposed “violent rhetoric” (yup, that’s a right-wing talking point isn’t it) is irrelevant.  They aren’t a part of that scene.  At all.  Nada, zip, zero to do with it.  Whatever their rhetoric it wasn’t a factor.

So I recommend you take a deep breath and back off.  There’s a possibility that a freakin’ meteor may hit the earth, however given how slight it is, I think I can afford to ignore that possibility.  At least until new information becomes available that says I should pay attention again, right?

Well, that’s kind of where you are with this act.  You’re spouting off about a “possibility” which has no real history to support it and certainly isn’t something that was a part of this most recent tragedy.

Scarborough goes a little schizoid after his nonsense above and acknowledges the right’s righteous anger at the way the media and the left immediately blamed the usual suspects on the right (Palin, Fox News and Beck) but then says:

Now that the right has proved to the world that it was wronged, this would be a good time to prevent the next tragedy from destroying its political momentum. Despite what we eventually learned about the shooter in Tucson, should the right have really been so shocked that many feared a political connection between the heated rhetoric of 2010 and the shooting of Giffords?

Well, yes, the right most certainly should have been shocked.  Ok, maybe not – after all we did watch the left melt down for 8 years – speaking of violent and vile, hateful rhetoric – but I haven’t seen anything to this point to even compare to that on the right.  So maybe the shock was how the left woke up in a new world in January of 2008 (along with Scarborough it appears) and suddenly discovered “violent rhetoric” exists – at least as they define it.  Most of the right, however, understands “violent rhetoric” as a lefty code phrase for “shut the right up”.

Of course the right’s “violent rhetoric” is, in comparison, a pale shadow of what the left pitched during the Bush years as has been amply demonstrated by any number of bloggers and right wing media types. 

So show me the history Joe – where there has been right-wing violence precipitated by “violent rhetoric”.  And no McVeigh doesn’t work – he stated unequivocally that the reason he detonated that horrific bomb in OK City was because of Waco – not Rush Limbaugh, not Fox News, not right rhetoric.  In fact there really isn’t much history of political assassination associated with “violent rhetoric” from the right in this country, is there?

And what sort of whack job associates a campaign stunt such as firing a “fully automatic M16” with her political opponent as a threat to Giffords – except you and the left, that is?  What you can’t break the context out on that?  It was a campaign event.  It was meant to draw people in to do something they’d find cool or enjoyable.  It wasn’t, pardon the word, aimed at Giffords, for goodness sake.

But waterboy Joe can’t leave it there, oh no:

And who on the right is really stupid enough to not understand that the political movement that has a near monopoly on gun imagery may be the first focus of an act associated with gun violence? As a conservative who had a 100 percent rating with the National Rifle Association and the Gun Owners of America over my four terms in Congress, I wonder why some on the right can’t defend the Second Amendment without acting like jackasses. While these types regularly attack my calls for civility, it is their reckless rhetoric that does the most to hurt the cause.

Joe, you’re about as conservative is Barack Obama is centrist, but that aside, perhaps the right can’t defend the 2nd Amendment without acting like jackasses is because the real jackasses on the left are constantly trying to nullify it.  Sometimes you just have to be blunt about what’s happening.

As for the nonsense about not understanding why the right would be immediately associated with a shooting crime that’s simply a predisposition for the left that Scarborough wants to excuse. And it jumped right out there after Tucson embarrassingly enough, didn’t it Joe?

Facts, pal … facts.  That’s what matter.  And the fact of the matter is the right or its rhetoric had nothing to do with the tragedy in Tucson. Not what it has said, not its literature, not its stance on guns.  Nothing.

That’s the fact, sir.  And jackasses like you who keep this crap rolling based in nothing but your own “rage” need to be called out on it. “Civility” is just another in a long line of lefty attempts to shut the right up.  Racist is losing its sting so now the way to shut down debate, to shut your opponent up and to dismiss or wave away any argument they may make, is to call them “uncivil”.  That’s what the left is attempting.  Nice to see it has fellow travelers who claim to be from the right carrying water for them, Joe.

Great job.

UPDATE:  Ah, now I know why waterboy Joe is still ranting.  Ed Koch explains.  Ed Koch for heaven sake.

~McQ

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Just words? Obama on a “21st Century regulatory” regime

President Obama has an op/ed in the Wall Street Journal (a carefully chosen venue to project a “pro-business” lean, I’m sure) in which he touts an Executive Order he is signing which orders a review of all federal regulation ostensibly to bring them inline with today’s realities and help root out those which stifle job creation.

On the surface, nothing at all objectionable in the premise.  Obama claims the purpose of the effort is to ensure that what regulation is kept represents “common sense rules of the road that strengthen our country without unduly interfering with the pursuit of progress and the growth of our economy.”

Fine and dandy.  I’d love to see that applied to the letter.  I just have no real confidence that this is anything other than show (a visible move toward the center) or that bureaucracies will pay it any attention.  Of course that’s something we’ll have to see and monitor.

But … again, backing government out of much of the present regulatory regime (“unduly interfering” in Obama’s words) would indeed be a help.

More on the stated premise:

But creating a 21st-century regulatory system is about more than which rules to add and which rules to subtract. As the executive order I am signing makes clear, we are seeking more affordable, less intrusive means to achieve the same ends—giving careful consideration to benefits and costs. This means writing rules with more input from experts, businesses and ordinary citizens. It means using disclosure as a tool to inform consumers of their choices, rather than restricting those choices. And it means making sure the government does more of its work online, just like companies are doing.

Again, wonderful words (“more affordable, less intrusive” and more choice instead of “restricting those choices”) in an op/ed, but I have to say despite Obama’s claim this has been the aim of his administration the last two years, I’d dispute that.  Look at the route the EPA is taking right now in terms of trying to impose a regulatory regime on greenhouse gases.  Or how the Interior Department has unilaterally blocked oil and gas exploration. 

Certainly simplifying the regulatory regime, removing conflicting and overlapping rules, eliminating redundant reporting requirements and moving much of what can be done on-line to that venue would help.  But while that may make things more understandable and less onerous to do, it doesn’t really mean that intrusive regulation is going to go away or even be lessened. 

We’re back to how you define such regulation and what level of intrusiveness you believe is too much.  There’s no doubt that the Obama administration believes in a level of intrusion far greater than do most on the right.  An example of the difference can be found in the article itself:

One important example of this overall approach is the fuel-economy standards for cars and trucks. When I took office, the country faced years of litigation and confusion because of conflicting rules set by Congress, federal regulators and states.

The EPA and the Department of Transportation worked with auto makers, labor unions, states like California, and environmental advocates this past spring to turn a tangle of rules into one aggressive new standard. It was a victory for car companies that wanted regulatory certainty; for consumers who will pay less at the pump; for our security, as we save 1.8 billion barrels of oil; and for the environment as we reduce pollution.

Of course on the other side of that are those saying “since when is it a function of government to decide what gas mileage a car must get?”  The entire premise that it is a function of government is built on belief in a “justified” level of intrusion far beyond that which any Constitutional scholar would or could objectively support (that’s assuming he is a scholar and an honest one).  In fact the example perfectly states the obvious difference between big government advocates and small government advocates.  BGA’s think it is government’s job to dictate such things – that it is a function of government to do so.  SGAs believe it is the market’s job to dictate such things and that government shouldn’t be involved in these sorts of things.

So in essence, while the Obama op/ed has all the proper buzz words to attempt to sell it as a pro-business, small government move, it is in fact simply a restatement of an old premise that essentially says “government belongs in the areas it is now, we just need to clean it up a little”.

This really isn’t about backing off, it’s about cleaning up.  It isn’t about letting the market work, it’s about hopefully making government work better.  And while Obama claims to want to inform us about our choices rather than restricting them, I’ll still be unable to buy a car that doesn’t meet government standards on gas mileage even if I want one.

Now that may not seem like something most of us would want – few if any of us want bad gas mileage and the cost it brings – but it does illustrate the point that government regulation really isn’t about providing choice at all, it is and always will be about limiting them.  And all the smooth talking in the world doesn’t change that.   It’s the nature of the beast.

So when you hear wonderful things like this…

Our economy is not a zero-sum game. Regulations do have costs; often, as a country, we have to make tough decisions about whether those costs are necessary. But what is clear is that we can strike the right balance. We can make our economy stronger and more competitive, while meeting our fundamental responsibilities to one another.

…just remember the reality of regulation and understand that all the great sounding words you hear coming from the administration about regulatory overhaul are most likely based on a completely different premise than the right has.   And as all of us have learned from the 2 years in which this administration has been in power, never, ever, ever just go by what they say they’re going to do.  Always judge them on what they actually do, because rarely do they ever do what they say in speeches or op/eds like this.

~McQ

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Richard Lindzen: AGW movement driven by money, power and dubious science

That’s the conclusion I gathered from a devastating essay Richard Lindzen published this past Saturday.  Here are the lead 2 paragraphs:

The notion of a static, unchanging climate is foreign to the history of the earth or any other planet with a fluid envelope. The fact that the developed world went into hysterics over changes in global mean temperature anomaly of a few tenths of a degree will astound future generations. Such hysteria simply represents the scientific illiteracy of much of the public, the susceptibility of the public to the substitution of repetition for truth, and the exploitation of these weaknesses by politicians, environmental promoters, and, after 20 years of media drum beating, many others as well. Climate is always changing. We have had ice ages and warmer periods when alligators were found in Spitzbergen. Ice ages have occurred in a hundred thousand year cycle for the last 700 thousand years, and there have been previous periods that appear to have been warmer than the present despite CO2 levels being lower than they are now. More recently, we have had the medieval warm period and the little ice age. During the latter, alpine glaciers advanced to the chagrin of overrun villages. Since the beginning of the 19th Century these glaciers have been retreating. Frankly, we don’t fully understand either the advance or the retreat.

For small changes in climate associated with tenths of a degree, there is no need for any external cause. The earth is never exactly in equilibrium. The motions of the massive oceans where heat is moved between deep layers and the surface provides variability on time scales from years to centuries. Recent work (Tsonis et al, 2007), suggests that this variability is enough to account for all climate change since the 19th Century.

One of the reasons I constantly ask those who believe in AGW what the “perfect temperature” for the world is and how we can achieve it is I understand that the only constant in the earth’s climate is change.   The world’s climate has always been changing in various cycles since its formation.  History shows us that we’ve had periods of more CO2 than now, warmer periods than now and neither of the events can be explained away by blaming man.

How we got into this scared mode of screaming about gloom and doom if we don’t do something is both interesting and constructive.  But a couple of things first.   Lindzen discusses the role of models in the current debate and why anyone seeing their output should be very skeptical of their conclusions.  He first discusses the “dominant role” of cumulus convection in the tropics and how the models handled that.  His discussion is a scathing critique of the models used:

For warming since 1979, there is a further problem. The dominant role of cumulus convection in the tropics requires that temperature approximately follow what is called a moist adiabatic profile. This requires that warming in the tropical upper troposphere be 2-3 times greater than at the surface. Indeed, all models do show this, but the data doesn’t and this means that something is wrong with the data. It is well known that above about 2 km altitude, the tropical temperatures are pretty homogeneous in the horizontal so that sampling is not a problem. Below two km (roughly the height of what is referred to as the trade wind inversion), there is much more horizontal variability, and, therefore, there is a profound sampling problem. Under the circumstances, it is reasonable to conclude that the problem resides in the surface data, and that the actual trend at the surface is about 60% too large. Even the claimed trend is larger than what models would have projected but for the inclusion of an arbitrary fudge factor due to aerosol cooling. The discrepancy was reported by Lindzen (2007) and by Douglass et al (2007). Inevitably in climate science, when data conflicts with models, a small coterie of scientists can be counted upon to modify the data. Thus, Santer, et al (2008), argue that stretching uncertainties in observations and models might marginally eliminate the inconsistency. That the data should always need correcting to agree with models is totally implausible and indicative of a certain corruption within the climate science community.

It turns out that there is a much more fundamental and unambiguous check of the role of feedbacks in enhancing greenhouse warming that also shows that all models are greatly exaggerating climate sensitivity. Here, it must be noted that the greenhouse effect operates by inhibiting the cooling of the climate by reducing net outgoing radiation. However, the contribution of increasing CO2 alone does not, in fact, lead to much warming (approximately 1 deg. C for each doubling of CO2).

The larger predictions from climate models are due to the fact that, within these models, the more important greenhouse substances, water vapor and clouds, act to greatly amplify whatever CO2 does. This is referred to as a positive feedback. It means that increases in surface temperature are accompanied by reductions in the net outgoing radiation – thus enhancing the greenhouse warming. All climate models show such changes when forced by observed surface temperatures. Satellite observations of the earth’s radiation budget allow us to determine whether such a reduction does, in fact, accompany increases in surface temperature in nature. As it turns out, the satellite data from the ERBE instrument (Barkstrom, 1984, Wong et al, 2006) shows that the feedback in nature is strongly negative — strongly reducing the direct effect of CO2 (Lindzen and Choi, 2009) in profound contrast to the model behavior. This analysis makes clear that even when all models agree, they can all be wrong, and that this is the situation for the all important question of climate sensitivity.

So there is your “consensus” and, as Lindzen points out, the consensus is/was wrong.   Furthermore:

According to the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the greenhouse forcing from man made greenhouse gases is already about 86% of what one expects from a doubling of CO2 (with about half coming from methane, nitrous oxide, freons and ozone), and alarming predictions depend on models for which the sensitivity to a doubling for CO2 is greater than 2C which implies that we should already have seen much more warming than we have seen thus far, even if all the warming we have seen so far were due to man. This contradiction is rendered more acute by the fact that there has been no statistically significant net global warming for the last fourteen years. Modelers defend this situation, as we have already noted, by arguing that aerosols have cancelled much of the warming (viz Schwartz et al, 2010), and that models adequately account for natural unforced internal variability. However, a recent paper (Ramanathan, 2007) points out that aerosols can warm as well as cool, while scientists at the UK’s Hadley Centre for Climate Research recently noted that their model did not appropriately deal with natural internal variability thus demolishing the basis for the IPCC’s iconic attribution (Smith et al, 2007).

The basic reason we’re still battling this nonsense? Uh, would you believe the usual – power and money:

When an issue like global warming is around for over twenty years, numerous agendas are developed to exploit the issue. The interests of the environmental movement in acquiring more power, influence, and donations are reasonably clear. So too are the interests of bureaucrats for whom control of CO2 is a dream-come-true. After all, CO2 is a product of breathing itself. Politicians can see the possibility of taxation that will be cheerfully accepted because it is necessary for ‘saving’ the earth. Nations have seen how to exploit this issue in order to gain competitive advantages. But, by now, things have gone much further. The case of ENRON (a now bankrupt Texas energy firm) is illustrative in this respect. Before disintegrating in a pyrotechnic display of unscrupulous manipulation, ENRON had been one of the most intense lobbyists for Kyoto. It had hoped to become a trading firm dealing in carbon emission rights. This was no small hope. These rights are likely to amount to over a trillion dollars, and the commissions will run into many billions. Hedge funds are actively examining the possibilities; so was the late Lehman Brothers. Goldman Sachs has lobbied extensively for the ‘cap and trade’ bill, and is well positioned to make billions. It is probably no accident that Gore, himself, is associated with such activities. The sale of indulgences is already in full swing with organizations selling offsets to one’s carbon footprint while sometimes acknowledging that the offsets are irrelevant. The possibilities for corruption are immense. Archer Daniels Midland (America’s largest agribusiness) has successfully lobbied for ethanol requirements for gasoline, and the resulting demand for ethanol may already be contributing to large increases in corn prices and associated hardship in the developing world (not to mention poorer car performance). And finally, there are the numerous well meaning individuals who have allowed propagandists to convince them that in accepting the alarmist view of anthropogenic climate change, they are displaying intelligence and virtue. For them, their psychic welfare is at stake.

So essentially, Lindzen is appealing for us all to stop this madness and, in a calm, rational way, discuss what we do know and why it isn’t a threat that needs drastic and expensive intervention  – for instance:

Given that the evidence (and I have noted only a few of many pieces of evidence) strongly implies that anthropogenic warming has been greatly exaggerated, the basis for alarm due to such warming is similarly diminished. However, a really important point is that the case for alarm would still be weak even if anthropogenic global warming were significant. Polar bears, arctic summer sea ice, regional droughts and floods, coral bleaching, hurricanes, alpine glaciers, malaria, etc. etc. all depend not on some global average of surface temperature anomaly, but on a huge number of regional variables including temperature, humidity, cloud cover, precipitation, and direction and magnitude of wind. The state of the ocean is also often crucial. Our ability to forecast any of these over periods beyond a few days is minimal (a leading modeler refers to it as essentially guesswork). Yet, each catastrophic forecast depends on each of these being in a specific range. The odds of any specific catastrophe actually occurring are almost zero. This was equally true for earlier forecasts of famine for the 1980’s, global cooling in the 1970’s, Y2K and many others. Regionally, year to year fluctuations in temperature are over four times larger than fluctuations in the global mean. Much of this variation has to be independent of the global mean; otherwise the global mean would vary much more. This is simply to note that factors other than global warming are more important to any specific situation. This is not to say that disasters will not occur; they always have occurred and this will not change in the future. Fighting global warming with symbolic gestures will certainly not change this. However, history tells us that greater wealth and development can profoundly increase our resilience.

Trying to claim there is a “global climate” and define it with a perfect temperature seems a fools errand in light of what Lindzen points out above about regional variability.  The models don’t explain those regional variables or their effects very well at all.  In fact, they insist on a “global” view vs. the view Lindzen gives us, and that makes the attempt to globalize regional events even more suspect.

My favorite paragraph though, is Lindzen’s parting shot , er, conclusion:

With all this at stake, one can readily suspect that there might be a sense of urgency provoked by the possibility that warming may have ceased and that the case for such warming as was seen being due in significant measure to man, disintegrating. For those committed to the more venal agendas, the need to act soon, before the public appreciates the situation, is real indeed. However, for more serious leaders, the need to courageously resist hysteria is clear. Wasting resources on symbolically fighting ever present climate change is no substitute for prudence. Nor is the assumption that the earth’s climate reached a point of perfection in the middle of the twentieth century a sign of intelligence.

I’m still laughing over the last sentence.   Given any intelligence and a smattering of curiosity about climate history, even a cursory examination of that history makes one immediately suspicious of the claims by the AGW crowd and very skeptical of the science.  For those who Lindzen describes as “well meaning individuals who have allowed propagandists to convince them that in accepting the alarmist view of anthropogenic climate change, they are displaying intelligence and virtue”, he’s saying it is neither intelligent or virtuous.

All I can say is, “agreed”.

~McQ

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