Questions and Observations

Free Markets, Free People

World Will Warm Faster Than Predicted In Next 5 Years?

That’s what the Guardian is saying.   And, it claims, that will “silence” global warming skeptics.

You mean man’s link to warming has finally been proven and we will now reap what we’ve sown?

Well, not exactly.  Here’s the reason they give:

[The] [n]ew estimate [is] based on the forthcoming upturn in solar activity and El Niño southern oscillation cycles.

They then trot this out:

The hottest year on record was 1998, and the relatively cool years since have led to some global warming sceptics claiming that temperatures have levelled off or started to decline. But new research firmly rejects that argument.

The research, to be published in Geophysical Research Letters, was carried out by Judith Lean, of the US Naval Research Laboratory, and David Rind, of Nasa’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies.

The work is the first to assess the combined impact on global temperature of four factors: human influences such as CO2 and aerosol emissions; heating from the sun; volcanic activity and the El Niño southern oscillation, the phenomenon by which the Pacific Ocean flips between warmer and cooler states every few years.

The analysis shows the relative stability in global temperatures in the last seven years is explained primarily by the decline in incoming sunlight associated with the downward phase of the 11-year solar cycle, together with a lack of strong El Niño events. These trends have masked the warming caused by CO2 and other greenhouse gases.

Notice anything in there that sounds familiar? Remember the report on this peer reviewed study? The Guardian apparently doesn’t:

Three Australasian scientists have published a study in the Journal of Geophysical Research claiming that virtually none of the observed temperature increases in the Earth’s atmosphere in recent years can be attributed to man-made factors.

And to what did the 3 scientists attribute recent warming?

“The surge in global temperatures since 1977 can be attributed to a 1976 climate shift in the Pacific Ocean that made warming El Niño conditions more likely than they were over the previous 30 years and cooling La Niña conditions less likely” de Freitas said.

“We have shown that internal global climate-system variability accounts for at least 80% of the observed global climate variation over the past half-century. It may even be more if the period of influence of major volcanoes can be more clearly identified and the corresponding data excluded from the analysis,” he added.

Again, what was it the scientists the Guardian are trumpeting included in their analysis?

“…volcanic activity and the El Niño southern oscillation…”

And the sun – something we’ve been pointing out for a while has a huge impact on heating or cooling on the earth. It has also been very quiet for a few years.

We have obvious agreement between the two studies that three natural activities over which man has absolutely no control are driving the climate. And the Guardian gives us nothing – absolutely nothing – that supports the AGW connection which it implies the inclusion of man-made CO2 emissions and aerosols. No percentage of cause or contribution to the warming, no idea if the inclusion has any effect at all, nothing. The Australians reached pretty much the same conclusion but found no connection with man-made emissions.

One final word – I’m not a “global warming” skeptic. The globe warms and cools. Its a natural thing that the globe has been cycling through since its formation.

I’m an AGW skeptic. And this study does nothing to change that. In fact, it reinforces what the Australians did. The globe my very well warm in the next 5 years. But I still am not seeing anything that definitively links that to man. I’m seeing a lot that links it to nature though.

~McQ

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+Share on TumblrShare on StumbleUponShare on RedditPin on PinterestEmail this to someone

The Health Care “I Told You So” Post

When your political opposition is self-destructing (even while in the majority and in control of the legislative and executive branches), most political observers would advise stepping back and allowing them to do so.

But not the Republicans. They’re going to be the “significant other” that gives this president a win on his signature issue and help him maintain both his momentum and the viability of the rest of his agenda.

The “I told you so” part of this is, as I (and many others) have said, Democrats will eventually pass something they can call “health care reform” and save the viability of Obama’s presidency. What you didn’t figure is the Republicans would be both complicit and key to that:

Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) confirmed that the three Republicans and three Democrats negotiating the Senate Finance bill are moving away from a broad-based mandate that would force employers to offer insurance. The senators instead are leaning toward a “free rider” provision that requires employers to pay for employees who receive coverage through Medicaid or who receive new government subsidies to purchase insurance through an exchange.

Snowe stressed the committee hasn’t reached a final agreement on any of the key provisions but said, “There is not a broad-based employer mandate. … There are approximately 170 million Americans that receive coverage through employers. That is a significant percentage of the population. We don’t want to undermine that or create a perverse incentive where employers drop the coverage because their employees could potentially get subsidies through the exchange.”

On the nonprofit insurance cooperative, Snowe also said no final decisions have been reached, but “it is safe to say it is probably one that will remain in the final document.”

This is what everyone who talks about it means when they say that Republicans “talk the talk but don’t walk the walk”. Here is a group, and I’d bet there are more that will sign on, who are involved in one of the biggest expansions of government undertaken since the “New Deal”. And when November of next year rolls around, this is the party that is going to want you to believe they are all for less government, less spending and less government intrusion.

And they’ll have this to point to as proof. [/sarc]

The reason the GOP is a shrinking party isn’t because it is the party of the Southern white male. It’s because no believes their nonsense any longer.  Sometimes being the party of “no” is the right thing to do.

[Welcome RCP readers]

~McQ

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+Share on TumblrShare on StumbleUponShare on RedditPin on PinterestEmail this to someone

Trying Too Hard To Make It About “Aggrieved White Guys”

Michael Crowley has a post at The New Republic’s blog (“The Plank”) in which he works is hardest to push a new meme. Yes friends, we’re now in the “post-Bush” era of “the aggrieved white guy”.

Apparently the Gates/Crowley (no relation I’m sure) dustup provided him the final and definitive proof. Apparently it wasn’t a cop and an increasingly hysterical man pushing each other’s buttons and, as usual, the guy with the badge and gun winning. Oh no, it is a “teachable moment” that was ripe for our teacher-in-chief, sans all the facts, to conclude it was the cop’s fault. And, of course, the cop being white and the homeowner who was misidentified as a burglar being black and a FOO, well what more needs to said, hmmm?

And, as proof, Michael Crowley offers one of the left’s favorite punching bags – Joe the Plumber. Yup, Joe was the guy who began to clue Crowley into this phenomenon – “the aggrieved white guy”. Uh, sorta:

This is the third time in the past year that Obama has squared off, directly or indirectly, with working-class white men. First, there was Joe the Plumber. Last fall, John McCain’s campaign became, to an astonishing degree, connected to the grievances of an (unlicensed) Ohio plumber. JTP’s message wasn’t explicitly racialized–he complained primarily that Obama was leading America down the path toward socialism. But it was impossible to ignore the way he embodied a working-class white everyman who has traditionally felt threatened by minority groups in America. Although McCain lost badly, JTP did allow him to abandon his ineffective emphasis on foreign policy issues like Iraq and Russia and focus his message late in the campaign around Obama’s social spending–a preview of the GOP’s most potent line of attack today.

Well Joe, you know, he wasn’t “explicitly racialized” (I mean when you’re trying to make a point about race and you can’t even figure out a way to brand one of the main figures you’re using to make your point as racist or “racialized”, maybe you ought to hit the “delete” button and try something else). Nope, Joe complained mostly about “spreading the wealth around”.

But, concludes Crowley, even though Joe wasn’t racialized and mostly complained about socialism, he “embodied” – emfreakinbodied – “a working-class white everyman who has traditionally felt threatened by minority groups in America.

Really? Where did you make that point, Mr. Crowley? Where did you even get close to it? Talk about trying too hard.

Second “aggrieved white guy” moment? Sotomayor:

Then, there was the Sotomayor nomination. His Supreme Court nominee was controversial for a recent court ruling which denied promotions deprived a group of white firefighters, coupled with her ill-advised advised assertion that “a wise Latina” might reach a better decision that a white male judge. Senate Republicans and conservative pundits clobbered Sotomayor for the implication that she was biased against white guys. Their point was illustrated with potent stagecraft, in the form of uniformed white firefighters–the losers in the New Haven case–who attended Sotomayor’s Senate confirmation hearings in their dress uniforms. They were icons of the heroic working-class white guy. Sotomayor’s hearings went about as smoothly as possible, but the GOP did use them to lay the groundwork for a narrative that the Obama administration gives special preference to minority groups.

Smoothly missing from Crowley’s analysis is the fact that the racist phrase in question here came from the Supreme Court nominee, not some “aggrieved white guys”. You have to wonder if her example of a wise Latina woman making a better choice had instead used a black male judge. I’m sure we all know how that would have worked out.

Instead, it is apparently assumed, in the post-racial Obama era, we’re just supposed to let what appeared to actually be a racist statement slide. Or, when exception is taken too it, hand wave that away as “the aggrieved white guy” thing. Had Sotomayor never uttered those words, they’d have aggrieved no one, regardless of race. That is the salient “post-racial” point.

And now we come to the point of this “analysis” which will try to hand us “the aggrieved white guy” label to play with over the next few years:

Now comes Sergeant Crowley. Conservatives could hardly ask for a more effective vehicle for this burgeoning narrative. While Joe the Plumber was an obvious moron, and Sotomayor too sympathetic and skillful to demonize, Crowley (no relation, sorry) is political gold.

Clever, huh? He must have stayed up late trying to figure out how to stitch Joe the Plumber, Sotomayor and Sergeant Crowley together to make this rather lame attempt at launching his AWG meme. Get ready for it, here comes the “thud” as it hits the floor. Speaking of Crowley, the other Crowley says:

He is the hard-working white man who wears a uniform and risks his life for his country. Note that such a uniformed civilian hero is especially valuable for a Republican party which, through the fiasco in Iraq, has largely lost its monopolistic claim on representing the uniformed American soldier. And while it’s hard to defend Crowley’s arrest of Gates, he does seem to be winning the spin war over character and temperament (particularly after African-American members of the Cambridge police force came to his defense last week). Crowley also plays into the only theme conservatives like more than race, which is class. For Obama to be in the defense of a Harvard professor who summers on the Vineyard against a police officer who attends neighborhood softball games at night–particularly after Obama admitted during his first comments about the case that he did not know all the facts–is almost too good to be true, from the GOP’s perspective.

Have you picked up on it yet? Are you aware of how Crowley is using the words “Republican party” in this? As a pretty obvious code phrase for – heh, yup, you’ve got it – “aggrieved white guys”. See they’re obviously not taking offense at the President of the United States using a nationally televised news conference to call the cop stupid even while admitting he didn’t have all the facts. Nope they’re trying to develop something which the President had every opportunity to avoid and didn’t. Who was trying to develop what? And if Obama considered it a teachable moment as Crowley contends, why isn’t it a teachable moment for Obama as well?

Frankly that’s how it came out as I’ve observed it. Obama stuck his foot fully in his mouth and paid for it. He hasn’t yet learned what is or isn’t appropriate in his new office.  Crowley of course, seems to have forgotten the glee of Democrats each time Bush did something like that – but I don’t remember him trying to push some  “aggrieved” meme then although I believe for some at the time, “aggrieved loon” might have fit nicely.

Crowley concludes:

Obama and his advisors surely realized this. They understood that Crowley represented something far more dangerous to their post-racial narrative than either Joe the Plumber or those uniformed firefighters. For once, conservatives stood to gain real traction on both issues of race and class in one simple episode. It wasn’t going to ruin his presidency, but it was too volatile to be ignored. Obama had to take control of the story before it took control of him.

Nonsense. Utter balderdash. All Obama had to do was look at the questioner and politely say, “I don’t have all the facts and prefer not to say anything until I do,” and then call on the next questioner.

In fact he caused the ruckus and managed to overshadow the message he was trying to push that night – health care. As it turns out,  I’m glad he did.

However let’s not pretend that Obama exercised any “control over the story”. He reacted to his own stupid statement and tried to cover it up like a cat trying to cover, well, you know.

And, by the way, Mr. Crowley – it didn’t work.

“Aggrieved white guy”, my rear end.

~McQ

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+Share on TumblrShare on StumbleUponShare on RedditPin on PinterestEmail this to someone

Carefully Reporting That For Some “Global Warming” Wasn’t So Bad

This story in the UK’s Times is as interesting for what it doesn’t say as what it does say.

Apparently the world went through some global warming (most know it as the Medieval Warm Period) roughly between AD1100 and 1500 that allowed the Inca Empire to rise and spread. And note, there was no “A” in that “GW” at that time. In fact the temperature rose several degrees during that period. The Times chooses to characterize the 400 years as a “spell of good weather”. But the last 20 years of more current time with a net zero degrees of warming? Gloom and doom.

And let there be no question about it, that 400 year “spell of good weather” was the most significant factor in the rise of the Inca empire:

“Yes, they were highly organised, and they had a sophisticated hierarchical system, but it wouldn’t have counted a jot without being underpinned by the warming of the climate,” says Dr Alex Chepstow-Lusty, a palaeo-ecologist from the French Institute for Andean Studies in Lima, Peru.

The study’s authors say that the findings have important implications for Peru and other countries facing the prospect of the most extreme shifts in climate because of global warming. For many countries, the prospect of warming is unwelcome. However, with the correct landmanagement techniques some of these countries might be able to turn a warmer climate to their advantage.

Well assuming that the rest of the world went through the same sort of warming over that 400 years (and yes, it did) and we somehow survived and apparently thrived, it would seem that “other countries” facing the “unwelcome” prospect of warming may want to reassess the whole concept, doesn’t it?

I mean if scientific findings have any weight with the AGW crowd and all.

~McQ

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+Share on TumblrShare on StumbleUponShare on RedditPin on PinterestEmail this to someone

Against Obama’s Global Tax Hike

I’m not keen on many taxes to begin with, but as a practical matter, some are more destructive than others. Some are so bad that they’re a train wreck even by their proponents’ stated standards.

President Obama has proposed a package of tax hikes on the overseas operations of American firms. The supposed benefits sound like political winners: over the next decade the feds get $210 billion to shovel into the yawning budget hole, and at the same time discourage those companies from outsourcing jobs. Congressmen who promise more jobs but are wary of mounting deficits might think they’re hitting two birds with one stone.

But there are more appetizing birds than the goose that laid the golden egg.

See, there are just a few things that offer relief from the fact that the US is one of the few countries to tax its companies’ operations all over the globe. One is “deferral” – companies don’t pay taxes on most earnings until the money is returned to the US parent company, so they can delay getting slapped with the double tax by reinvesting their foreign earnings in foreign operations.

Another big relief is being able to claim credits on the taxes they pay to foreign governments.

Obama is proposing, among other things, to place new limits on deferral and clamp down on tax credits. These changes won’t work as advertised: they won’t reduce outsourcing (they may increase it) and won’t raise nearly as much revenue as originally claimed.

First, most American companies that expand overseas do it to get around trade barriers and get close to their customers. When a new KFC opens up in China, that’s not an outsourced American job; that’s an American business getting to expand into a growing market. The vast majority of sales made by foreign affiliates – think 90 to 94 percent – were to foreigners, not exports back to the US.

Second, the roughly 2,200 US-based corporations with overseas operations either employ or support the employment of 22 million Americans, and those companies create half of all American exports. Jobs here rely on providing direction to foreign workers (managers, engineers) and producing goods for affiliates to sell in foreign markets.

The growth of US foreign affiliates is “consistently accompanied(PDF) by the growth of their parent companies, the opposite of what you would expect from a zero-sum perspective on “outsourcing”. More expansion abroad means more jobs, compensation and investment at home.

So making American firms uncompetitive abroad not only threatens jobs at home but even encourages businesses to headquarter themselves outside the US.

And as a result of that, the policy changes won’t raise nearly as much revenue as Obama claimed.

  1. The global downturn has been worse than Obama suspected back when that $210 billion figure was calculated.
  2. We’ve tried cutting back deferral before: in 1986, the government repealed deferral for the shipping industry, and consequently we lost half of our shipping capacity, taking a bunch of jobs and tax revenues with it.
  3. Even still, never underestimate the creativity and industriousness of tax lawyers.

That last part might not be such a problem if Obama’s proposals simplified the tax code, like he claims. But they make things worse on that score, not better.

As a note to my fellow Virginians: these companies with overseas operations are responsible for over half of the private sector jobs in the commonwealth (PDF source), and they tend to be the better-paying jobs (averaging over $70k compensation) like computer systems design and telecommunications. Is that going to sit well with the likes of Sen. Warner?

Bills that hurt this many people are loaded with political liabilities, yet I got word a few days ago that a bill with Obama’s proposals may come up for consideration in the House in September.

Get the word out. The more people know what this is going to cost them, the harder it will be to sell. By all rights, Obama’s Globo-Hike should fail politically before it has a chance to fail as policy.

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+Share on TumblrShare on StumbleUponShare on RedditPin on PinterestEmail this to someone

A Word To The “Birthers”

Do you remember how we all laughed at the “truthers” and wondered how they could be so gullible as to believe all the nonsense being spread about (fire doesn’t melt steel, etc.)?

Well now you’re the one’s being laughed at. You’re just like the truthers and the leftist dead-enders who wouldn’t let the 2000 election go.

Birthers.  Truthers.  One in the same.

Barack Obama is from Hawaii, he’s the president, there is no “smoking gun” here and you need to get off of this before you further ruin your credibility. I mean think about it – you’re taking your lead from a ditzy lawyer who has become addicted to the media coverage she can generate and dimbulb’s like this Army Reserve Major who played the reserve system to allow him to make a political statement.  The vast majority of Republicans know a stinker when they smell one.

Get over this stuff.  This is the “Bush/AWOL” story for the right.

~McQ

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+Share on TumblrShare on StumbleUponShare on RedditPin on PinterestEmail this to someone

Health Care Reform – Peeling The Onion

There are a number of things going on in the health care reform debate that are the reason Democrats are at odds with each other. One, obviously is cost. What should be apparent, even to rocket scientists like Nancy Pelosi, is that the American people are not buying into the premise that “government can expand coverage, improve care and do it for less”. It’s not happening.

And, of course, those on the blue side that are leading the “no way, no how” charge are the so called Blue Dogs. Bolstering the Blue Dog position is the CBO, or Congressional Budget Office – a non-partisan organization which “scores” proposed bills for cost and savings. In the last few weeks it has consistently found Democratic Congressional legislative proposals wanting – pointing out none delivered the promised savings over the long haul.

Predictably, the CBO has come under fire from the left, and yesterday the White House joined the fray. Peter Orszag, the White House budget director, Peter Orszag said – carefully – that the CBO’s recent analysis might be feeding a perception that its tendency is toward “exaggerating costs and underestimating savings.”

Given how the costs of most government programs skyrocket after implementation, I’m having difficulty buying into this supposed perception. And it may say more about Orszag, former CBO director, than it does about the CBO now.

However, what Orszag is talking about specifically is a proposal that is another part of the infighting going on among Democrats.

“The point of the proposal … was never to generate savings over the next decade,” Orszag said in a letter posted on Saturday.

“Instead the goal is to provide a mechanism for improving quality of care for beneficiaries and reducing costs over the long term.”

In fact, the proposal is about shifting power from Congress to the Executive Branch:

The new council, if approved, would replace the current Medicare Payment Advisory Commission, which is made up of doctors and health care experts. Once a year, it gives recommendations about coverage and reimbursement rates for Medicare but has no authority to enforce its ideas. Its report in March recommended that payments for primary care physicians be increased and home health services rates be decreased.

The proposed council would be comprised of doctors and health care experts making their recommendations based on extensive data and analysis of best health care practices, according to administration officials.

It would be an independent executive branch agency — which would give its recommendations more weight. The president would have to approve or disapprove the its recommendations as a package. If it is approved, the package would be enacted if Congress did not vote against it within 30 days.

This isn’t necessarily about “best health care practices” – this is about centralizing the decision making and making it harder and harder for Congress as a whole and individual Congressmen specifically, from excepting their district or certain constituent health care providers from some of the provisions. The White House wants to take that little perk away from them. And that’s another one of many stuggles going on within this fight to pass something.

A Democratic president trying to take power away from a Democratic congress is probably not the best way to try to pass something that the President can call “health care reform”. That’s not to say I support this council in either form – its more to point out how clumsily this administration is proceeding in all of this. If you want legislation passed so your signature issue doesn’t fail, it may be best not to try to take power away from a friendly Congress and take it yourself. Executive power grabs don’t just happen in the national security area as the Democrats constantly criticized Bush for attempting. They can occur in many other areas. We’ll see if the Dems will be as critical of this power grab as they were of the ones alleged of the previous administration.

~McQ

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+Share on TumblrShare on StumbleUponShare on RedditPin on PinterestEmail this to someone

Podcast for 26 Jul 09

In this podcast, Bruce, Michael, and Dale discuss the controversy over the Obama presser on Monday, and the state of health care reform’s passage in the Congress.

The direct link to the podcast is unavailable this week due to technical problems, so you’ll need to listen to it at BTR.

Observations

The intro and outro music is Vena Cava by 50 Foot Wave, and is available for free download here.

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 2007, they can be accessed through the RSS Archive Feed.

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+Share on TumblrShare on StumbleUponShare on RedditPin on PinterestEmail this to someone

BlogTalk Radio – Tonight, 8pm (EST)

Call in number: (718) 664-9614

Yes, friends, it is a call-in show, so do call in.

Subject(s): Health Care – again. Specifically, the discontent within Dem ranks, the CBO raining on the parade and how the Prez’s presser went over. Which brings us to the Gates thing and what that has spawned.

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+Share on TumblrShare on StumbleUponShare on RedditPin on PinterestEmail this to someone

Buy Dale’s Books!