Free Markets, Free People

Bruce McQuain


Science in the service of politics

We’ve talked about this at other times in the past but there are some examples in a recent Victor Davis Hanson peice that make the point again.  Science is science.  It should not be something in service to anything, especially politics.  It should stand alone and we should deal with its findings as objectively as possible.  Unfortunately, today we have “science” (and yes the quote marks do indicate that what I’m going to note has nothing to do with real science) in the service of politics and for hire to whomever can provide it the most grant money.  It’s become a bit like expert witnesses in court.  Need one to conclude a certain way?  We can find that “expert” for you.

Anyway, there is one particularly egregious example in the VDH piece (at least more egregious than some, at least to me) that I want to note because it has so recently been in the news and used in politics to further an agenda:

The president still talks of “settled science” in the global-warming debate. He recently flew to California to attribute the near-record drought there to human-induced global warming.

There is no scientific basis for the president’s assertion about the drought. Periodic droughts are characteristic of California’s climate, both in the distant past and over a century and a half of modern record-keeping. If the president were empirical rather than political, he would instead have cited the logical reasons for the fact that this drought is far more serious than those of the late 1970s.

California has not built additional major mountain storage reservoirs to capture Sierra Nevada runoff in decades. The population of the state’s water consumers has almost doubled since the last severe drought. Several million acre-feet of stored fresh water have been in recent years diverted to the sea — on the dubious science that the endangered delta smelt suffers mostly from irrigation-related water diversions rather than pollutants, and that year-round river flows for salmon, from the mountains to the sea, existed before the reserve water storage available from the construction of mountain reservoirs.

In other words, government has been lax (no forward planning or construction for the water needs of an expanded population), environmentalists have been extreme (demanding an entire valley be dried up for a mostly useless fish) and the result has been to aggrevate a natural penomenon to disaster levels.

But they will tell you that it has to do with “global warming”, not poor government, not environmental extremism.  What Obama is pushing is pseudo-science, fashioned to support a political position.  There is no reason that this drought should be as severe as it has been.  And again – it isn’t global warming causing the severity.

Remember, this was the guy who promised he’s put science back in the place it belonged.  Apparently that place is the same place he claimed it was before he took office.  As a political tool to push an ideological agenda.  That’s precisely what he was doing in California.

But then, the fact that he lied shouldn’t suprise anyone, given his track record.

~McQ


Obama polls sinking along with Democrat chances in mid-terms

Congressional “mid-term” elections have, for years, been seen as a referrendum on the President.  When the nation is pleased with a President, his party gains seats in Congress and when not pleased, that party suffers by losing seats in Congress.  Well, Democrats, gird thy loins, because here it comes:

President Obama’s job approval rating hits a record low this week, as a majority of Americans say his administration has mostly failed at growing the economy, creating jobs, improving health care and the country’s image.

That’s according to a Fox News poll released Wednesday.

For the first time in a Fox News poll, fewer than four voters in ten — 38 percent — approve of President Obama’s job performance. Fifty-four percent disapprove. Before now Obama’s worst job rating was 40-55 percent in November 2013. Last month 42 percent approved and 53 percent disapproved (February 2014).

Approval of Obama among Democrats stands at 71 percent, near its 69 percent record low (September 2013). For independents, 28 percent approve, which is also near the 25 percent all-time low among this group (July 2013). And approval of Obama among Republicans hits a new low of five percent.

Overall, a 59-percent majority thinks the White House has mostly failed at creating jobs, up from 52 percent who said the same in October 2012. Likewise, 56 percent feel it has failed on growing the economy. That’s also up from 52 percent.

Etc. Etc. Etc.  Even the Senate majority now is seen to be at risk and no one believes the Dems have a chance in the House.

And the only consistent thing in Obama poll numbers is the drop.  He’s near historic lows in approval among many groups to include Democrats. They’re not likely to get better anytime soon.

The empty suit is finally beginning to wear on the electorate.

But I have to ask, how can a country stay so willingly blind that it took until now to see this inept imposter for what he really is?

~McQ


Thomas Friedman: “You know how you beat Putin? Tax Americans, that’s how.”

Ah the left, you can count on them to come up with some way to get into your wallet in answer to any crisis.  Thomas Friedman, the man who admires China’s abilty to control almost all aspects of its citizens life, has a great solution to the recent aggression by Russia’s President Vladimir Putin.  Tax Americans:

I don’t want to go to war with Putin, but it is time we expose his real weakness and our real strength. That, though, requires a long-term strategy — not just fulminating on “Meet the Press.” It requires going after the twin pillars of his regime: oil and gas. Just as the oil glut of the 1980s, partly engineered by the Saudis, brought down global oil prices to a level that helped collapse Soviet Communism, we could do the same today to Putinism by putting the right long-term policies in place. That is by investing in the facilities to liquefy and export our natural gas bounty (provided it is extracted at the highest environmental standards) and making Europe, which gets 30 percent of its gas from Russia, more dependent on us instead. I’d also raise our gasoline tax, put in place a carbon tax and a national renewable energy portfolio standard — all of which would also help lower the global oil price (and make us stronger, with cleaner air, less oil dependence and more innovation).

Of course one of the real problems to doing what Friedman wants, i.e. exploiting our “natural gas bounty” is found in the parenthetic statement right after that.  Government and environmentalists stand in the way because “the highest environmental standards” is a moveable goal post that is pushed further and further out each time industry approaches it.  And, of course, Friedman apparently isn’t cognizant of the fact that the “standards” are one of the major cost factors in keeping prices up.

Naturally Friedman also wants the other lefty dream.  The Crimea is as good of an excuse as any.  The Global Warming scam has been exposed.  The chances of getting that carbon tax based in that nonsense seem ever more remote.  But wait, we now have the Crimea!  Perfect.  Lets tax ourselves to do in Putin.  Friedman knows that whatever the excuse, taxes are rarely dropped after they’re once implemented.  So, with a “whatever it takes” philosophy guiding this, Friedman has his newest and latest excuse to raise taxes.  And note – it’s a long term strategy (which apparently assumes that Russia won’t make adjustments to the threat to its business) which means that these aren’t temporary taxes we’re talking about.  No.  Not by any stretch.

Oh, and for a guy who is so in love with China, I wonder if he has any idea where Russian oil and gas would go if the EU decided to buy from us?

Yeah, probably not.

~McQ


It certainly gets harder to be an Obama cheerleader anymore ….

Not that some aren’t still trying their hardest to pull it off.  Face it, his has been one of the most dismal presidencies in history and it isn’t getting any better.  However, reading through the headlines about the Ukraine, I came across an Orwellian piece that declares, “No, American weakness didn’t encourage Putin to invade the Ukraine“.  Instead, it’s all about how the US has, in fact, broadened it’s power, expanding east, that encouraged Putin’s invasion.

No.  Really.  That’s the case that the author of the piece is trying to convey.  We’re not weaker, we’re not in retreat, in fact, we’re more powerful than ever.

Gee, how about that.  In the anarchy that is world politics, we now have the weak trying to counter the strong by invading another country instead of the more inuitive and usual reaction to a power vacuum caused by the retreat of a once great power.  The author claims that the expansion of NATO threatened Russia.  Wait, isn’t that 20th century thinking?  Aren’t we being chided for dropping back on those old cold war theories?

Well, not when you’re tying to defend “The One” and you haven’t much to work with in a particular case.

The fact remains that Putin did what he did because he knew he could and he knew the reaction would be loud, but the response would be tepid.  And, of course, when you look at a map of the pipelines that flow from Russia through the Ukraine and into Europe you know that any attempted sanctions will likely be met with counter sanctions by limiting fuel and, in the end,  imposing a much higher cost on Europe than Russia.

Putin is a 20th century cold warrior and he knows how to play this game, even in the 21st century.  Our leaders?  They’re in denial.

Putin knows when he’s faced by a weak willed, “can’t we all just get along” Western leadership.  He learned that with Georgia and Syria.  Why in the world would he fret about the West’s reaction to Ukraine?

But the apologists want you to know that it isn’t Barry’s fault.  He may have be weak willed and prefer “leadership from the rear”, but it realty the Ukraine was invaded beause we’re so strong and powerful.  And black is white, up is down and right is wrong.  The only 20th century date you can apply to this piece is “1984″.

~McQ


Why is Russia in the Ukraine? See Syria …

With the Olympics safely over, Vladimir Putin felt safe to invade the Ukraine and annex the Crimea.  Anyone want to take a guess why?

It has to do with “red lines” and words, not action.  Those red lines were first drawn in Syria.  And when they were crossed … nothing happened.  So:

“Putin smelled blood in the water when the airstrikes against the Assad regime were suddenly called off,” Oubai Shahbandar, a senior advisor to the Syrian National Coalition, the U.S.-backed opposition group, said of the Ukraine invasion. “We’ve seen this movie play out before, sadly, as Russian-supplied planes, tanks and even some mercenaries continue to arrive in Syria uninterrupted.”

“Hope won’t stop Russian aggression,” Shahbandar added.

Ah, but we’re talking about “hope and change”.  You know, the stuff that will calm the tides, still the wind and, well, fix anything.  All the Great One has to do is speak the words and the world trembles in fear. Our first post-modern President is of the ilk that believes talk equals action.  And he’s talked about it now, so its time to move on and bash Israel.
Meanwhile, all those red lines drawn and crossed in Syria rightfully have the Syrians leary of any promises from the US:

The Syrian opposition had long held out hope for significant U.S. support for their uprising, from heavy weapons and surface-to-air missiles to a no-fly zone. They argued that Assad’s main allies — Russia and Iran — had been steadfast in boosting his regime with arms and money, and in the latter case, with boots on the ground.

Many Syrians were deeply disappointed when Obama failed to enforce his famous “red line” on the Assad regime’s use of chemical weapons with air strikes — opting instead for a Moscow-initiated deal for the regime to give up its stockpile of chemical arms. “Do not develop strategies that are based on any assumption that the U.S. or EU will demonstrate assertive leadership to deter Russian aggression,” said Amr al-Azm, a U.S.-based member of the Syrian opposition and a professor at Shawnee State University.

And Ukraine, that treaty you have the the US?

“The last thing anybody wants is a military option,” Kerry said Sunday.

Seems to me Russia has already used in Mr. Kerry.

Do I want our military involved in another war?  Not under this leadership, no.  When the leaders are both gutless and clueless, our troops need to stay home.  But that’s really not the point here.  The point is the happenings in the Ukraine are a direct result of some of the worst foreign policy ineptness we’ve had to suffer under in a couple of centuries.  It almost makes one pine for Jimmy Carter.

~McQ


It is official: Welcome to the Obama economy

We’ve been told over the last few years that our economy is in a slump but not to worry.  It’s temporary.  The administration is on it.  It’s going to be fixed.

What, we’ve had 5 recovery summers and are heading into our 6th?

Well, the CBO, that office the administration loves to cite when it suits them, has decided that this economy, the Obama economy, isn’t an outlier and we should get used to it:

The part of the past that you deem most relevant can be critical in determining your outlook for the future. And nowhere is that clearer than in the changing economic forecasts that come out of the Congressional Budget Office.

This year’s short-term and long-term economic forecasts are substantially worse than last year’s, even though the economy performed better than expected in 2013. What changed was that the C.B.O. economists essentially decided that they would no longer treat the recent years of poor economic performance as a sort of outlier. They have seen enough of a slow economy to begin to think that we should get used to sluggishness.

They think that Americans will earn less than they previously expected, that fewer of them will want jobs and that fewer will get them. They think companies will invest less and earn less. The economy, as measured by growth in real gross domestic product, will settle into a prolonged period in which it grows at an average rate of just 2.1 percent. From 2019 through 2024, job growth will average less than 70,000 a month.

So, how does it feel?  You’ve lived through the “Golden age” and are now relegated to … this.  Slow to non-existent job growth.  Regulation out the wazoo. Rising health care costs.  Taxes eating into earnings and no end in sight.

This is the economy this administration has helped fashion with an insensitivity to the economy and a policy cluelessness that is second to none.  The fact that they’re still pushing a raise in the minimum wage in the face of half a million job losses (conservative estimate) says it all.

You reap what you sow, or don’t sow, in this case.  What they didn’t sow was economic policies that would get the economy moving, create jobs and keep us in that Golden age.  Instead we got ideology first, regardless of the economic consequences.

And this is the result.

As CBO says, get used to it.

~McQ


That outdated concept called “academic freedom”

“Outdated” because it confilicts with liberalism.  Here’s a senior at Harvard’s view:

In its oft-cited Statement of Principles on Academic Freedom and Tenure, the American Association of University Professors declares that “Teachers are entitled to full freedom in research and in the publication of the results.” In principle, this policy seems sound: It would not do for academics to have their research restricted by the political whims of the moment.

Yet the liberal obsession with “academic freedom” seems a bit misplaced to me. After all, no one ever has “full freedom” in research and publication. Which research proposals receive funding and what papers are accepted for publication are always contingent on political priorities. The words used to articulate a research question can have implications for its outcome. No academic question is ever “free” from political realities. If our university community opposes racism, sexism, and heterosexism, why should we put up with research that counters our goals simply in the name of “academic freedom”?

Instead, I would like to propose a more rigorous standard: one of “academic justice.” When an academic community observes research promoting or justifying oppression, it should ensure that this research does not continue.

And what is it called when one promotes the quashing of dissenting views that they find to conflict with their ideas?

Call is “social justice” or whatever you choose, it is plain old, Brand X “oppression”.

That’s right.  Every oppresive regime in the history of our world has been intolerant of dissent and has taken action to quash it.  Here we see the same old tired argument presented by a liberal to further the cause of liberalism.  Don’t want to hear any dissenting voices, oh no.

And yet this newly trained “scholar” presents this as if it is a brand-new, brightly minted and spectacular idea. She’s a senior at Harvard and “is a joint history of science and studies of women, gender and sexuality concentrator”.

No kidding. What a surprise. There seems to be quite a concentration of potential oppressers in that particular field of study. There certainly seems to be a dearth of critical thinkers however (she probably comes from the school of “it hasn’t worked properly yet because I haven’t been in charge”).  It’s a pity she didn’t take a run-of-the-mill world history course or two to see who else in the past has shared that bright idea with her.  Past hell, there’s are entire countries which have implemented that exist now.

China, Cuba and North Korea come to mind.

~McQ


And this woman wants to be a lawyer

I’m sure by now you’ve at least heard of the female Duke freshman who is paying for her college tuition by being a porn star.

She apparently wants to be a lawyer some day.  She’s a woman’s studies major.  She says she can’t afford the financial aid she needs to study at Duke and so she’s decided to do porn.

So what’s my beef with her?  Well it is not that she is okay with being in porno.  Its not illegal, and if there is no force or fraud involved, I have no problem with her choice even if I disagree.

The beef?  Read this first:

I was offered scholarships at a lot of places. I was offered full tuition at Vanderbilt, for example, and was accepted into USC, Wellesley, Barnard, Pepperdine, some others. But I visited Duke last year on Blue Devil Days [Duke's programmed weekend for admitted freshmen], and I remember walking into the Duke Chapel — I’m a very spiritual person — and just feeling an energy that told me, “This is the place you need to be.” And I felt something in the chapel in that moment that told me that I needed to be here and go to Duke and it was something that would be an amazing experience for me.

Yup … apparently something “spiritual” happened and she just had to choose Duke. Had too.  That is the place for her, even though she couldn’t afford it.  Even with a “full ride” at Vandy, she wanted to go to Duke instead.

And?

Would you still do porn if Duke cost less?

No. If Duke had given me sufficient financial aid, if they had given me the proper resources and made college affordable for my family, I would not have done porn. I would’ve just gotten through college and been fine. The financial burden that Duke put on me was absolutely enormous and insurmountable with the resources that I had.

And it’s Duke’s fault she’s doing porn because, apparently, it was Duke’s job to realize what a catch they had in her and make college more affordable for her family and herself.

So, instead of going to a very good college which had offered her full tuition (which I’m sure has “womens studies” major as well), she selfishly chose to go to one she couldn’t afford because, you know, something happened in the chapel at Duke or whatever.  She’s now doing porn to pay for it.  And it’s all Duke’s fault or at least Duke is the reason she had to make that choice.

You know, I think college has gotten outrageously expensive and I hope the bubble pops very soon.  ROI for the money has been shown to be not so good.  And the debt load one has to take on to get a degree is outrageous.

But seriously, her justification is just so pathetic I couldn’t pass up commenting on it.  Btw, she says she loves doing porn, so who cares?  But to lay it off on the school when it was completely a result of her choice of  schools – is just the ultimate in BS reasoning.

Yeah, if she ever gets a law degree, I’d say avoid her like the plague.

~McQ


A story of how this administration misuses “science”

But first a fond farewell to Piers Morgan – don’t let the doorknob hit you in the ass as you head back to the UK, you jackwagon.  Oh, and would you mind taking Alex Baldwin and that Beiber thing with you?

Now to the point.  One of the things that the Obama administration told us in the beginning is that it planned on putting “science” back in its proper place as something serious and non-political (an obvious political shot at the opposition who, candidate Obama claimed, used it for political purposes).

How’s that gone?  Well we’ve watched the global warming bunkem.  And the Keystone Pipeline nonsense.  But here’s a story that will demonstrate best how much of a lie (and I don’t know how you describe what’s happened any other way) that original promise was:

A case in point is the story of DOI science adviser and scientific integrity officer, Dr. Paul Houser, who found out that by simply doing his job can be hazardous to one’s career. Dr. Houser is an expert in hydrology who was hired by DOI’s Bureau of Reclamation to evaluate scientific data used in the department’s decision making process. He was assigned several Western State projects including a scheme to remove four hydroelectric dams on the Klamath River in Northern California—the largest dam removal project in U.S. history. When a summary of science posted on the web to support DOI’s claim for removal of the dams omitted several crucial factors from expert panel reports, Dr. Houser brought his concerns to his superiors. He was repeatedly told to refrain from sharing his concerns through electronic communication, which could be subject to Freedom of Information Act discovery.

Dr. Houser learned firsthand that policy was driving the science, rather than the other way around, when he was told by his superiors at DOI, “Secretary Salazar wants to remove those dams. So your actions here aren’t helpful.”

According to the DOI the premise for Klamath River dams removal is to restore Coho salmon spawning habitat above the dams. However, official DOI documents reveal scientific concerns that dam removal may, in fact, result in species decline based on millions of tons of toxic sediment build up behind the dams that will make its way to the ocean. Water temperature increases without the dams could also negatively impact the salmon. These studies were ignored. Concerns about the human toll and impact to local Klamath Basin communities were also brushed aside. Those most interested in the well-being of the environment they live and work in, were given a backseat to special interests thousands of miles away.

The Klamath hydroelectric dams provide clean inexpensive energy to thousands of local residents who will be forced to pay much higher premiums if the dams are removed because California has strict new laws for use of renewable energy. The town of Happy Camp sits on the banks of the Klamath River and could be wiped out with seasonal flooding without the dams. Once Coho salmon are introduced into the upper Klamath, farmers and ranchers will be faced with water use restrictions and invasive government regulation of private land. The economic impact will be devastating, property values will depreciate and the agriculture community, often operating on slim profit margins, will be subjected to the fate of the once vibrant logging industry which fell victim to the spotted owl crusades.

Last year, Dr. Houser raised these concerns and was subsequently fired by the DOI. “I put my concerns forward and immediately thereafter I was pushed out of the organization,” he stated. The agency sent a clear message to the rest of their employees and scientists – Salazar’s dam busting agenda cannot be subject to any internal scientific scrutiny. Goebbels would be proud. Truth must be repressed when it contradicts the objective.

Dr. Houser did the right thing. He did his job. His integrity as a scientist was more important than a paycheck. But he remains concerned about his colleagues in DOI, “There are a lot of good scientists that work for the government but they are scared, they are scared that what happened to me might happen to them. This is an issue (about) the honesty and transparency of government and an issue for other scientists in government who want to speak out.”

Those fish have an advocate.  That advocate is named Salazar.  Salazar has decided he wants a certain outcome.  “Science’s” role is to justfy it.  Never mind the human toll.  Never mind the economic toll.  Never mind any of the toll.  Ken Salazar and his radical environmental cronies will feel just peachy about themselves if they accomplish this … even if the fish actually die as a result.  Because, well because this is how nature did it to begin with, people are pests and it is more important that we let fish spawn where they once did than worry about how it will effect the pests.  And by George he has the power of government and “science” behind him to do as he wishes.  Houser didn’t toe the line, had actual scientific integrity and spoke out.  And was fired.

Frankly, this doesn’t surprise me a bit.

You?

~McQ