Free Markets, Free People

Monthly Archives: December 2010


Hope everyone has a Merry Christmas!

Light blogging for the next few days.  This time of the year is very light in blog readership anyway, as everyone turns to family during the Christmas season.  And frankly, I need a break from the clowns in DC.

Speaking of family though, two of my nieces have been busy this year.  A little bragging is called for. 

One, Delanna Studi, finished up a nationwide tour with the Broadway show, “August in Osage County”. 

And another, Amy Weaver, is featured in a Sears commercial and, as you’ll see, does an outstanding job.    Remember: cranberries:

 

Amy Weaver

 

~McQ


Polar bears not "endangered" per White House – Al Gore in shock

A favored myth of the warmist alarmist is we’re killing off the polar bears through AGW by melting their habitat.

Not so fast says the Obama administration:

The Obama administration is sticking with a George W. Bush-era decision to deny polar bears endangered species status. In a court filing Wednesday, the Fish and Wildlife Service defended the previous administration’s decision to give the polar bear the less-protective “threatened” species designation, a move that will frustrate environmentalists who hoped for stronger protections under the Endangered Species Act.

One of the more obvious things most should understand, at least by now, is getting an animal on the endangered list isn’t so much about the animal is about power. All sorts of regulatory restrictions kick in with such a designation.

And the enviros get to help enforce them. Go out on Ft. Bragg NC’s maneuver areas and marvel at the red-cockaded woodpecker’s power – and the the enviro monitors who sit out in the habitat area and ensure soldiers don’t invade the woodpecker’s space.

The same sort of power would accrue the enviros with the placement of the polar bear on the endangered list.

FWS Director Rowan Gould said the 2008 "threatened" listing was made "following careful analysis of the best scientific information, as required by the ESA." At the time, the service determined the bears weren’t danger of extinction, so did not warrant the “endangered” status.

The bears were listed as "threatened" because they face serious threats from projected decline in its sea ice habitat due to global warming would result in them likely being in danger of extinction in the foreseeable future.

Typical of the "science" used by the alarmists is this:

In a news release issued after its conference last July, the PBSG concluded that only one of 19 total polar bear subpopulations is currently increasing, three are stable and eight are declining. Data was insufficient to determine numbers for the remaining seven subpopulations. The group estimated that the total number of polar bears is somewhere between 20,000 and 25,000. (Estimates of the population during the 1950s and 1960s, before harvest quotas were enacted, range from 5,000 to 10,000.)

So the polar bear population has more than doubled from the high 1950′s estimate yet they’re "endangered" according to some? This little caveat is also listed:

However, the PBSG quickly acknowledged that “the mixed quality of information on the different subpopulations means there is much room for error in establishing” the numbers, and “the potential for error, given the ongoing and projected changes in habitats and other potential stresses, is cause for concern.”

Or said another way, "we don’t know what the real polar bear population is but it must be in decline and, btw, our projected decline is based on those stellar climate change models that have been so accurate to this point". Regardless, it is hard to sell endangered species when the species has had a 100% plus growth in 50 years (with harvesting).

The “science?”

Harry Flaherty, chair of the Nunavut Wildlife Management Board in the capital of Iqaluit, says the polar bear population in the region, along the Davis Strait, has doubled during the past 10 years. He questions the official figures, which are based to a large extent on helicopter surveys.

“Scientists do a quick study one to two weeks in a helicopter, and don’t see all the polar bears. We’re getting totally different stories [about the bear numbers] on a daily basis from hunters and harvesters on the ground,” he says.

Want to make a bet on who is right?

Bottom line: “Science” in the name of a political agenda is no science at all.  And as more information continues to come out, it appears that the “science” of AGW isn’t based in science so much as it is the accrual of power and control to those who would love to dictate how you must live – for the planet, of course.

~McQ


Democratic Senators want to limit filibuster and change other Senate rules

Well of course they do – it gives power to the minority and prevents them from running roughshod over that minority as they attempt to push their agenda through the Senate (as is pretty much done in the House).  That said, I don’t have a problem with this:

Among the chief revisions that Democrats say will likely be offered: Senators could not initiate a filibuster of a bill before it reaches the floor unless they first muster 40 votes for it, and they would have to remain on the floor to sustain it. That is a change from current rules, which require the majority leader to file a cloture motion to overcome an anonymous objection to a motion to proceed, and then wait 30 hours for a vote on it.

“There need to be changes to the rules to allow filibusters to be conducted by people who actually want to block legislation instead of people being able to quietly say ‘I object’ and go home,” said Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo.

This year, McCaskill lined up backing from more than two-thirds of senators for elimination of secret holds, which allow a senator to block action on a bill or nomination anonymously. She said that Democrats will also push plans to force senators who place holds to do it publicly.

I think that "secret holds" are anathema to open government. If a Senator objects, he or she should take ownership of that objection and have to do so publicly. That’ll take care of some of the petty nonsense that is fairly routine in those sorts of holds. But:

Adding to the momentum for change, say proponents, is a push by Udall to seek a simple majority vote on changing Senate rules at the start of the session, rather than a two-thirds majority, that is gaining steam. Such a move could come at the start of next Congress, shortly after the Senate returns on January 5th.

Uh, no. Supermajority means you have to convince the minority of the efficacy of the changes. One of the reason it is so important to have the minority retain its power was illustrated in the defeat of the 1.2 trillion dollar pork package called the "Omnibus spending bill". The minority was able to kill it. I understand that really has no bearing on an internal rule change to go to a simple majority vote to make rule changes, but as with all things, that means Democrats wouldn’t have to have a single minority vote to change the rules.

I say "no way". One of the most powerful and moderating things about the Senate is it almost forces negotiation with the minority before it can accomplish anything. I wonder if the "No Labels" crew will be coming out with a statement saying "keep the rules that protect the minority in the Senate".  Yeah, I doubt it too.

Filibuster reform in the way McCaskill is pushing for (no more secret holds) is a good thing I think.  The time change to less than 30 hours on the motion to proceed is no big deal.   Changing the rule on the number of votes necessary to change the rules – i.e. go from a supermajority to a simple majority – is not a good thing and should be rejected.

~McQ


Lame duck "crows"

The Dems are jumping around and engaging in a bit of back-slapping as they declare the 111th Congress a "do something" Congress. The key third word is "to" or "for". I vote for "to", as in they’ve done something to all of us we aren’t going to like or already don’t like (*cough* health care *cough*).

So while they dance around the maypole

President Obama led his party Wednesday in celebrating the repeal of "Don’t ask, don’t tell," one of the several accomplishments to come during the unusually busy lame-duck session. The Senate is set to ratify the New START Treaty on Wednesday afternoon, and passed a defense authorization bill by unanimous consent in the Senate on Wednesday morning. Also up for possible passage Wednesday is legislation to fund healthcare for 9/11 first responders.

"We’ve had a very, very productive few weeks after this election. We took responsibility to do the things that needed to be done," Hoyer told liberal talker Bill Press on his radio show.

… I have only two questions to ask of this supposed wonderful Congress after the mid-terms.

Jobs?

Economy?

~McQ


Is access to the internet a “civil right”?

Well, of course anything can be declared a “civil right”.  All it takes is using the force of government via law or bureaucratic fiat (FCC imposes new rules on internet) to make something into that.  But any basic understanding of the word “right” does not include something which depends on the labor, money, services or assets of a 2nd party for its fulfillment.  Health care is not a “right”, civil or otherwise, because in order to fulfill it, one must coerce a 2nd party provider to give the services necessary whether they want to or not.

So is the internet a “civil right”?  Depends on who you ask – for the entitlement crowd, the answer is “yes”:

"Broadband is becoming a basic necessity," civil-rights activist Benjamin Hooks added. And earlier this month, fellow FCC panelist Mignon Clyburn, daughter of Congressional Black Caucus leader and No. 3 House Democrat James Clyburn of South Carolina, declared that free (read: taxpayer-subsidized) access to the Internet is not only a civil right for every "nappy-headed child" in America, but is essential to their self-esteem. Every minority child, she said, "deserves to be not only connected, but to be proud of who he or she is."

Heck, the same argument could be made for any number of things – a cell phone, for instance.  Any number of people I’m sure would argue that a cell phone and unlimited access to a cellular phone network has become a “basic necessity”.   Of course we’re sliding down that slippery slope at an amazing rate of speed.

And if internet access is a “basic need”, a “civil right”, what about the tools necessary to access it?  An account with an internet provider and a computer?  Software?  Michelle Malkin remarks:

Face it: A high-speed connection is no more an essential civil right than 3G cell phone service or a Netflix account. Increasing competition and restoring academic excellence in abysmal public schools is far more of an imperative to minority children than handing them iPads. Once again, Democrats are using children as human shields to provide useful cover for not so noble political goals.

And, of course that “not so noble political goal” is more government control which, of course, translates into more power accrued and more control of every aspect of your life.  Malkin again:

For progressives who cloak their ambitions in the mantle of "fairness," it’s all about control. It’s always about control.

Precisely – and they’ll use any trick in the book to enlarge it.  And cloaking it in the guise of a “civil right” simply points out, again, how blatantly transparent  they’ve gotten in their quest.  This isn’t about “rights” – this is about power and intrusion.

~McQ


The impact of the census on House seats for 2012

We’ve all been wondering how it would shake out. Jamie Dupree (if you’re not following him in Twitter, you should) just tweeted:

BOTTOM LINE – New York & Ohio lose 2 seats; IA, IL, LA, MA, MI, MO, NJ and PA lose one House seat.

Interesting stuff. Those are the losers. Who picks them up?

GA picks up one as does SC, AZ, UT, NV and WA. FL picks up 2 and TX picks up 4.

So … the south picks up 7 seats (-1 in LA, remember?), the west 4 and the northeast and midwest lose 11.

Suddenly we’ve got a little different ballgame in 2012. Why?

Don’t forget, the change in House seats also changes Electoral Votes for President in 2012.

That’s why.

~McQ


Eric Holder acknowledges homegrown threat but can’t bring himself to name it

Seriously, this sort of nonsense has to stop:

"What I am trying to do in this interview is to make people aware of the fact that the threat is real, the threat is different, the threat is constant," he said.

And the threat is from?

What was uppermost on his mind, however, is the alarming rise in the number of Americans who are more than willing to attack and kill their fellow citizens.

Yes?  And who are these Americans? What do they have in common?

"It is one of the things that keeps me up at night," Holder said. "You didn’t worry about this even two years ago — about individuals, about Americans, to the extent that we now do. And — that is of — of great concern."

"The threat has changed from simply worrying about foreigners coming here, to worrying about people in the United States, American citizens — raised here, born here, and who for whatever reason, have decided that they are going to become radicalized and take up arms against the nation in which they were born," he said.

Hello – what else have they in common?  What has “radicalized” them?

In the last 24 months, Holder said, 126 people have been indicted on terrorist-related charges, Fifty of those people are American citizens.

"I think that what is most alarming to me is the totality of what we see, the attorney general said. "Whether it is an attempt to bomb the New York City subway system, an attempt to bring down an airplane over Detroit, an attempt to set off a bomb in Times Square … I think that gives us a sense of the breadth of the challenges that we face, and the kinds of things that our enemy is trying to do."

Holder says many of these converts to al Qaeda have something in common: a link to radical cleric Anwar Al Awlaki, an American citizen himself.

And Al Awlaki and al Qaeda are both driven by what?  Al Awlaki is what sort of cleric?

"He’s an extremely dangerous man. He has shown a desire to harm the United States, a desire to strike the homeland of the United States," Holder said. "He is a person who — as an American citizen — is familiar with this country and he brings a dimension, because of that American familiarity, that others do not."

Holder said that as a threat to the United States, Awlaki ranks right up there with Osama bin Laden.

"He would be on the same list with bin Laden," the attorney general said. "He’s up there. I don’t know whether he’s one, two, three, four — I don’t know. But he’s certainly on the list of the people who worry me the most."

Yes, yes and what is the common thread between Awlaki, bin Laden, al Qaeda and the people who keep Holder up at night?

"I have to have all those tools available to me to try to keep the American people safe, and to do the job that I’m supposed to do as a 21st century attorney general," Holder said.

Holder said the United States has made great strides in improving its ability to detect and block attacks, which is shown by the number of would-be terrorists who have been stopped before they could kill Americans. The intelligence community is working around the clock, he said, with little time off.

Well acknowledging that every single one of the “terrorists” or “radicals” among the 50 or so apprehended this year was Muslim or a convert to Islam might go a long way in identifying the threat.  Osama bin Laden, Al Awlaki and the 50 Americans all have in common their brand of radical Islam.  Al Qaeda didn’t just pop up because it thought it would be fun to target and kill Americans, it exists because its followers believe in a radical brand of Islam that instructs them to make war against infidels.  And America is considered the infidel of infidel nations.  Ergo, it is their primary target.

Without the underlying thread of their radical beliefs, they have no real reason to attack us.  But, acknowledging that all 50 of the “Americans” were Muslim and the fact that all 126 arrested shared that same radical faith would mean acknowledging that Muslims are 100% of the problem.  Can’t do that and search granny at the airport (in the name of fairness)can we?  Can’t do that and risk the charge of “profiling” – something we absolutely ought to be doing until circumstance or evidence lead us to do otherwise.

Why is it we’ll subject our own citizens to degrading, humiliating and intrusive searches of their person at airports and yet we won’t do the logical thing necessary to actually protect our citizenry?  Profiling is done everyday in law enforcement – just ask about how serial killers are identified.  When a description of a perpetrator is circulated, it will have the perp’s gender, race and age.  That is profiling data which helps narrow the search.

To this point we haven’t had a non-Muslim attacker try to blow any of us up.  Why are we so shy about saying that “radical Islam” is the problem, and until they prove otherwise, the larger set of Muslims in the US are a potential threat?   How do you argue otherwise given the evidence?

Does that mean we should go on a witch hunt within the American Muslim community?  Of course not – but, we shouldn’t avoid the fact that the threat has consistently and exclusively come from that community and that until it stops, they’ll be views suspiciously, watched closely and receive the most scrutiny.

But we won’t.  Just as Eric Holder spent an entire interview avoiding the use of the words “Muslim” or “Islam”, we’ll continue to eschew the obvious and doing what is logical for the appearance of being “fair”.  Apparently fairness, not security, is our nation’s highest priority – at least for now.

~McQ


Missile defense: a necessary cost?

Discussing the START treaty that right now is being considered by the Senate, the Heritage Foundation’s Conn Carroll reminds us and the Senators considering the treaty of some objective reality:

Senators should keep in mind this Administration’s hostility toward missile defense to begin with. Within months of assuming office, the Obama Administration announced a $1.4 billion cut to missile defense. The successful Airborne Laser boost-phase program was cut, the Multiple Kill Vehicle and Kinetic Energy Interceptor was terminated, and the expansion of ground-based interceptors in Alaska and California were canceled. Adding insult to injury, President Obama then installed long-time anti-missile defense crusader Phillip Coyle as Associate Director for National Security in the White House Office of Science and Technologyby recess appointment. That’s right—this President not only appointed the “high priest” of missile defense denialism as his top adviser on missile defense, but he did so in a way to purposefully avoid Senate consultation on the matter. This is the President some Senate conservatives want to trust? On missile defense? Really?

One way to make nuclear weapons obsolete or less desirable is to make them undeliverable.  That’s the purpose of the missile defense technology we’ve been developing over the years.  Then, when you negotiate a treaty like START you negotiate from a position of strength. 

Instead, we’ve seen a unilateral decision to throw missile defense under the bus, even while rogue nations like Iran and North Korea develop bigger and more powerful missiles every year.   Not to mention the fact that both countries are supplying the technology to others and, according to news reports, providing missiles to proxies and planning on basing missiles in Venezuela.

The cuts to these programs is short-sighted and ignores a very real and growing problem.  The Airborne Laser boost-phase program, for instance, has successfully intercepted ICBMs in the boost phase in tests and is able to quickly kill and engage multiple targets as they boost out toward their targets (a time when the missiles are at their most vulnerable).    It is the first layer in a multilayered missile killing system which would provide this country and its allies a virtually impenetrable shield against rocket launched nuclear weapons.

Instead, we have an administration going around killing off the systems that will protect us all the while telling us that START will do the job and we should just trust the Russians (and Iranians and North Koreans one supposes). 

The easiest way for a nuclear weapon to be delivered successfully is via an ICBM.   Killing off our successful and front-line missile killers like the Airborne Laser boost-phase program is short sighted and dangerous.  If President Obama wants START, make him negotiate.  Reinstate the anti-missile programs.  Then, the next time he or anyone else (hopefully) negotiates a like treaty, it will be from a position of strength that essentially renders rocket delivered nukes obsolete.  That would be a nice change from the obvious unilateral disarmament we’ve seen in the anti- missile shield area and a subsequent negotiating position of weakness.

That’s what our president should be doing, instead of giving away the farm for a piece of paper.  I wonder if the new START promises “peace in our time”?

~McQ


Wikileaks leaker’s legal docs leaked

I’m sorry but I find this both ironic and amusing:

LAWYERS for Julian Assange have expressed anger about an alleged smear campaign against the Australian WikiLeaks founder.

Incriminating police files were published in the British newspaper that has used him as its source for hundreds of leaked US embassy cables.

They couldn’t be more outraged than the hundreds of Afghans who cooperated with the US were when their lives were put in jeopardy by this guy.

Yeah, I know, “two wrongs don’t make a right”, but there is a certain bit of satisfying shadenfreude in the scenario.  I’m sure I’ll eventually get over it.

~McQ


Observations: The QandO Podcast for 19 Dec 10

In this podcast, Bruce, Michael, and Dale discuss the accomplishments of the lame duck Congressional session.

The direct link to the podcast can be found here.

Observations

As a reminder, if you are an iTunes user, don’t forget to subscribe to the QandO podcast, Observations, through iTunes. For those of you who don’t have iTunes, you can subscribe at Podcast Alley. And, of course, for you newsreader subscriber types, our podcast RSS Feed is here. For podcasts from 2005 to 2009, they can be accessed through the RSS Archive Feed.

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