Dec 22, 2011

The Ron Paul Newsletters: Turn The Tables

I guess it shouldn't surprise me, now that Ron Paul is rapidly advancing in the polls, that the 'racist' Ron Paul newsletters of the 1980's and 1990's have again achieved national prominence. (for those who don't know what I am talking about, Ron Paul had a paid, investment newsletter published in his name which sometimes used dubious racial and sexual stereotypes in the content.) It is clear from the way Dr Paul has been handling the incessant questions of a hostile press about the newsletters that he considers them a non-issue and a distraction from his message. He just wants to get on to issues that impact American voters today. After all, he has--repeatedly--disavowed them and stated that they were written for him and he never read them. In this recent clip one might even be able to discern a bit of embarrassment:

As a longtime supporter I can certainly sympathize with the good Doctor, but I think  for several reasons he is responding incorrectly. He needs to turn the tables and bring it up in every media interview, campaign appearance, and floor speech he gives. Think I am nuts? Read on:

The way the issue stands right now--and the way the media has spun it is that Ron Paul is dodging the issue. The media smell blood in the water, and they will continue to attack until they have destroyed him. For one because he represents everything they despise and fear, all the while maintaining that they are just doing their job. Since they will bring it up anyway--at least at first--Dr Paul needs to bring it up himself. And then use it as a platform to expand on his message of individual liberty. If he can successfully turn it from a perceived weakness into a strength, the media will run from it as fast as they can. Meanwhile, he controls the message and gets it out as he wants it presented.

What kind of platform can 'racist' newsletters be used for? I can think of several and I am certain others can think of more. My favorite goes something like this:

Evil Reporter: "Congressman Paul, how could you have allowed someone to publish newsletters in your name which contained hateful, racist language back in the 1980's and 1990's?"
Good Doctor: "Well, as I have stated repeatedly, I disavow any racist or sexist language that was used in those newsletters. If I had read them at the time, they would never have been published. It was 20 or 30 years ago, and I was busy in my practice delivering babies and raising my family. When help writing them was offered, I accepted and never really looked at the actual published content. But you know, regardless of how distasteful they could be, it really shows just how long this class warfare using the power of coercion--government--has been going on. After the civil war, government power was used discriminate against blacks. Then in the 1960's as a sort of dubious compensation, I guess, government power was used to discriminate against whites. With  such rampant governmentally forced legal discrimination, is it any wonder the writer was predicting a race war--"
Evil Reporter: "So you think there will be a race war?"
Good Doctor: "Good heavens no! I have never thought that to begin with; the American people are too good and too smart for that. But it does mean we must get back to the rule of law! Government and laws which favor one group over another causes friction between social groups. It causes the problem. My message--the message of liberty--is one law for all. That is what the 'Rule of Law' as the founders understood it means. That is what the Constitution stands for. Regardless of if you are a Congressman or the President of some Too-Big-To-Fail Bank--or simply an unemployed carpenter or a college student. The same rules must apply to all. Both in economics and in the law." 
"People get along just fine until the government gets involved. 
Anyway, I'm sure you get the idea. I welcome your suggestions.

Bottom line: Ron Paul must own this issue. He cannot shy away from it however distasteful. And even if this seems too difficult to pull off, in my opinion it is worth a try, since Ron Paul's candidacy could well be buried by this issue otherwise.There are still too many undecided, ill-informed or hoodwinked voters who do not realize that the ideas presented in those newsletters are alien to Ron Paul's basic philosophy.

Sep 10, 2011

The Single Best Thing About a Ron Paul Presidency

I have been a supporter of Ron Paul since January 2007. That was just before he started his exploratory committee for his run in 2008. I wrote an article about my experiences supporting Ron Paul on the ‘inter-webs’ back then, which you can read here. Needless to say, I am still a supporter and would vote for him if he can just get through the Republican Primary.
However, I have been having doubts that he is up to the job of President. After watching the last couple of debates, he is obviously not as sharp as he was during the 2008 election cycle. If you doubt this, simply go to YouTube and compare his performances during those debates to the most current ones. It should be obvious.
But I think I have come up with a great solution. And a solution that would still let Ron Paul accomplish the most important job he could ever hope to do for this country: Vetoing legislation and repealing regulations.
He simply needs to draft Rand as his Vice Presidential running mate. Rand could handle the ‘heavy lifting’ of the day-to-day performance while Ron could be there to fulfill the explicit Constitutional requirements of the President. Just think how wonderful it would be to have every bill congress passes vetoed—for four whole years. Bliss! 
Shear Bliss.

Apr 16, 2011

Sandy Springs, GA: Privatization of Government Services

A few days ago I posted a new Reason video on the city of Sandy Springs, GA. I have been following Sandy Springs since about 2008. If you don’t know the story, Sandy Springs was newly incorporated in 2005, and the committee chose to outsource the majority of services to private enterprises. If you know little about it, the video is here:

Long story, short: I posted the video on one of my County Commissioners FaceBook wall. Popular response was ok, mostly for the idea. One person, spoke out strongly against it, with a cautionary story about the potential problems implicit in outsourcing. A link which I hope will work to the whole thread is here:

The same individual posted an article that spoke of the theoretical flaws in ‘privatization’. See it here:

So, if you have watched the video, and read the above article, here is my response.

Interesting article. I do have a couple of problems with some of the arguments, however. They just don't seem to hold up. For example, the author tries to show that government and business are
substitutes for one another. That makes no sense: From the consumer perspective, if business offers

Apr 7, 2011

The Politicization of Civility

In the immediate aftermath of the Representative Gabrielle Giffords' shooting in Tucson, Arizona, the left predictably began pointing fingers at their normal targets on the right—Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, and Sarah Palin—claiming that they inspired the primary suspect, Jared Loughner, to attempt to kill her. After the facts began to emerge and seemed to indicated that Loughner had no real political orientation, the left quickly began to obfuscate their error by transitioning to generalities decrying the rising tide of incivility in our public discourse. With calls that echoed GHW Bush’s call for a ‘kinder and gentler nation,’ the left derided the right for its ‘lock and load rhetoric’. The right responded with historical examples of how uncivil political discourse has often been in the past.

The one thing both sides seem to miss is that the growth of government, itself, will cause a systemic increase in incivility in our public discourse.

Apr 6, 2011

Rick Scott: Bad poll numbers, Oh no!

This going to be more of a statement than an article, so don't expect any links. I figure you can find all the backup you want or need by simply going to the local 'news' reporting.

Today, the Florida press was gleefully reporting that their propaganda campaign against Rick Scott is finally supported by a poll. They have been working to erode the common sense of the Florida voter since Rick Scott announced his candidacy. The question for me remains whether the Florida press has been out to get Scott because of the well-deserved disdain he shows for them, or because of his rejection of their leftist agenda.

Don't get me wrong, Scott has not done everything right, but then, with all the problems created by government--local, state and federal--in Florida, who could do it all right? I will say that he is attempting to fix things as fast as he can, and his fixes tend to be more logical than any in recent history--including Jeb Bush's. He just does not cater to the press nearly as well. Bush 'played' the press; Scott doesn't. But is that his job? I don't think so.

The press apparently does.

Related to this ongoing propaganda campaign are the comments--better described as snipes--by lefties in response to positive comments on the various press posts regarding Scott's actions. The leftists all post a variant of the same concept: "How can you like what Scott is doing? Can't you see the harm he is doing to you?" It is amazing how many of these types of posts I have seen in the last few weeks. My answer has always been, "No, I can't. Tell me, how he is hurting me?"

Most of the vituperative answers I get to that query are not worth the time it takes to write them down, but they all tend to echo the idea of unfair reductions in services/compensation. Unfair is the operative word. Most include two basic concepts (usually in the same post):

a) Having to pay anything for government services is somehow 'unfair' and far too expensive for the average Floridian to afford.

b) Whatever Florida government employees are paid is somehow 'unfair,' and far too little for the valuable services they provide.

Maybe I am being too picky but it appears to be an argument for 'something for nothing'. Not very logically consistent--nor even possible--but this is the kool aid that the Florida press is peddling because Rick Scott ignores them. Wanna sip?

Feb 24, 2011

Updated: Justice Stephen Breyer's View of the 2nd Amendment

Here is a 13-minute, Fox News Sunday interview with US Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer. Justice Breyer is promoting his latest book. Such interviews are rare and Breyer discusses his view of the proper method of Constitution interpretation. Breyer's defense of his dissent from Heller is classic. He begins by claiming that Madison was compelled to included the 2nd Amendment in 1789--after the Constitution was already ratified--because his opponents would call up the state militias and nationalize them. Next he claims that the majority of historians support his view. The intellectual dishonesty of the man is chilling. This is a must see.

If you think his claims regarding Madison's objectives for the 2nd Amendment are accurate, please read 'Why DC's Gun Law is Unconstitutional'

02/24/2011 Update:  David Young’s outstanding rebuttal above provides a high level review of the critical events during the ratification of the Bill of Rights, but it is of necessity somewhat short on specific references. I therefore thought to do some of my own research into the specific issue of Madison’s intent when he introduced the Bill of Rights in the first Congress. Based on Young’s clues, I easily found a supporting source. In ‘The Bill of Rights: A Documentary History, Volume II’, (Bernard Schwartz, 1971, Chelsea House,) beginning on page 764, Schwartz writes that
[During the Virginia State Ratifying Convention, on June 25, 1788, after the Federalists had defeated Patrick Henry’s effort to require modifications and amendments before ratification, the delegates voted to ratify and recommend amendments after the fact.] The next day, a committee was appointed to prepare and report such amendments as by them shall be deemed necessary, to be recommended. Both [George] Mason and [Patrick] Henry were placed on the drafting committee (along with [James] Madison, [John] Marshall, and [George] Wythe) and were able to secure the origin Henry proposals, though only by way of recommendation for subsequent amendments. On June 27, the committee reported a proposed federal Declaration or Bill of Rights of 20 articles to be added to the Constitution, as well as 20 other amendments to the constitutional text. The Convention agreed to the committee report, and enjoined “it upon their representatives [Madison, of course, was one] in Congress to exert all their influence, and use all reasonable and legal methods, to obtain a ratification of the foregoing alterations and provisions.”
(page 842) The 17th item of Virginia’s  proposed ‘federal Declaration of Bill of Rights’  is
17th. That the people have a right to keep and bear arms; that a well-regulated militia, composed of the body of the people trained to arms, is the proper , natural, and safe defense of a free state; that standing armies, in time of peace, are dangerous to liberty, and therefore ought to be avoided, as far as the circumstances and protection of the community will admit; and that, in all cases, the military should be under strict subordination to, and governed by, the civil power.
 It clearly indicates an individual right. In addition, it is highly unlikely to me that Madison—who sat on the drafting committee—would allow such a clear declaration to be included in the committee report if he was against it. It is also inconceivable to me that Madison’s sole concern in proposing the Bill of Rights was in regard to threats of militia nationalization, given that he had specific guidance from the convention  ‘to exert all [his] influence, and use all reasonable and legal methods, to obtain a ratification of the foregoing alterations and provisions’ which included a clear individual right to keep and bear arms.

Feb 10, 2011

Florida's High Speed Rail: The case of California

California's High Speed Rail (HSR) is in trouble. Since we are about to embark on our own HSR project here in Florida, a good question for Floridians to ask is 'are there any lessons that can be drawn for the proposed Tampa-Orlando HSR?' Several recent studies seem to indicate that there are.

The California project is for a HSR line from San Francisco to Los Angeles. In 2008, California voters approved a $9 billion bond issue which was based on an estimated cost of $33 billion. The $33 billion was based on a business plan that was release in November 2008 by the California High Speed Rail Authority. A few months earlier, in September 2008 the Reason Foundation had released ‘The California High Speed Rail Proposal: A Due Diligence Report.’

The Reason study identified at least two major deficiencies in the numbers that were given to the voters: Estimated construction costs and ridership projections. Reason estimated construction costs at $65-81 billion. Likewise it concluded that the CHSRA ridership numbers were wildly over estimated: Reason's numbers were over 60% below the figures of the CHSRA. If Reason was right, the cost to California taxpayers would more than double for initial construction alone. Ridership projections would not come even close to paying for the ongoing operations and maintenance (O&M) costs. The Reason estimates were based on comparisons to real-world completed or ongoing HSR projects around the world. If they were correct, California taxpayers would, of course, be stuck with the bills not just for up-front construction overruns, but the O&M costs for years to come. (The US Defense Department routinely uses 70% as the O&M portion of the 'lifetime' cost of any generic project.) According to the Reason study
 'Any failure to meet the Rail Authority's lofty ridership projections would force ticket-price increases, further cutting ridership, or require taxpayer subsidies to cover the financial shortfall, adding to future budget deficits. The due diligence report finds "the San Francisco-Los Angeles line alone by 2030 would suffer annual financial losses of up to $4.17 billion." '
 After the ballot issue passed, a skeptical California legislature demanded a more in-depth cost analysis. In December 2009 the newly released CHSRA business plan raised the estimated construction costs to $43 billion and required higher fares.

In 2010, the California legislature again required an updated business plan by February 2011, which has since been delayed. On February 4, 2011,  Californians Advocating Responsible Rail Design (CARRD)--a group which describes itself as citizens who
 'value transparency, accountability and oversight and believe local communities should be partners in designing transportation projects. We work to ensure that the public's interests are upheld and that all facets of the California High Speed Rail project follow both the spirit and letter of the law.'
 released a statement which indicated that 'Our analysis, based solely on official and publicly available Authority documents, determines the current project costs are approximately $65 billion.' The CARRD construction estimate aligns with the bottom end of the 2008 Reason Foundation estimate. The ridership estimates have not yet been addressed by any other outside agencies, but since according to the Reason Foundation the estimate is so egregious that
'It appears that the CHSRA 2030 ridership projections are absurdly high—so much so that they could well rank among the most unrealistic projections produced for a major transport project anywhere in the world. Under a passenger-mile per route-mile standard, the CHSRA is projecting higher passenger use of the California system than is found on the Japanese and French HSR networks despite the fact that these countries have conditions that are far more favorable to the use of HSR.'
 It is therefore highly likely that those estimates, too, will be 'revised.'

On January 11th 2011, the Reason Foundation released a study of the Tampa-Orlando HSR project. By far, it is a much smaller project. The official estimated costs for initial construction are $2.7 billion, of which Federal taxpayers will pay $2.4 billion. Beyond that, day-to-day operations and maintenance--as well as any construction cost overruns--will be paid for by Florida taxpayers. The Reason study identified for the Florida HSR project the same two areas--initial construction costs and ridership--as areas of risk:
 1. Capital Cost Escalation: If construction cost projections prove overly optimistic, costs could increase substantially from the current estimates. The state of Florida would be responsible for virtually all of any such increase. This report estimates that the cost to Florida taxpayers could be $3 billion more than currently projected.
2. Operating Subsidy Liability: If ridership and revenue projections prove overly optimistic, it could become necessary for the state to provide an annual operating subsidy for the service. A state operating subsidy could also be necessitated by operating costs that are greater than projected. This risk could easily run into the hundreds of millions of dollars per year.
 When Reason directly compared the construction costs of the California and Florida projects, adjusting for variations and using the figures from the 2009 CHSRA estimate of approximately $43 billion, it found 'the California project to be 111 percent more costly per mile than the Tampa to Orlando project ($67.8 million per mile compared to the projected $32.1 million per mile in Florida). This difference could indicate that the capital cost projection for the Tampa to Orlando high-speed rail project is exceedingly optimistic.' If California per mile cost is applied to the Tampa-Orlando project, the overall construction cost would rise to $5.7 billion--raising the cost to Florida taxpayers from approximately $300 million to $3.3 billion. And if Florida cancels the project after construction begins--say because of massive cost overruns--Floridians could be required to repay the Federal grants: $2.4 billion.

In general, the ongoing operations and maintenance costs are harder to predict, but the major element which determines if a project pays for itself is ridership. If actual revenue from passenger fares equal or exceed operations and maintenance costs no taxpayer subsidies will be needed. Ridership however is driven by the attractiveness of HSR as an alternative to other means of transportation. The Reason study determined that travel by the Tampa-Orlando HSR will take longer and cost more than travel by car, making it much less attractive to travelers and jeopardizing the ridership projections of the Florida Rail Enterprise. Given that historically ‘projected ridership on passenger rail projects averaged 65 percent above actual patronage,’ Reason estimated that Florida taxpayers could be faced with a bill for
‘operating losses of approximately $300 million in its first 10 years of operation (2015 through 2024). The system would not produce a profit for its first 23 years of operation (2015 through 2037), with accumulated losses of approximately $575 million.’
California is charging ahead with its HSR project since getting the bulk of Federal funding from the cancelled projects in Ohio and Wisconsin. Only time will tell, but given that historically construction costs have been massively underestimated and projected ridership has been massively overestimated—combined with the potential Federal bill of $2.4 billion if we choose to cancel the project due to significant cost increases—Floridians might want to ask Governor Scott to follow the lead of Ohio and Wisconsin and tell the Federal Government, ‘Thanks, but no thanks.’

Feb 3, 2011

Signs: alBraradei and the National Association for Change

This is post two in my effort to trace the roots of all those professionally produced signs in the 'spontaneous' US demonstrations supporting ‘true democracy' and 'social justice' in Egypt. If you haven't seen the original post, go here (it's short.)
To sum up the story so far, I was able to find three organizations, ANSWER Coalition (AC), International Action Center (IAC), and the Egyptian Association for Change (EAC) which is part of Mohamed ElBaradei’s National Association for Change (NAC) that produced signs for the first US demonstrations. You can read about the radical and Marxist ties for AC and IAC here and here.
The EAC presents a different issue since it is both logical and understandable that it would support the recent uprising in Egypt. Its website uses no Marxist/Progressive code language; it freely admits its loose affiliation with the NAC, as well as its support for the seven points of reform that the NAC espouses (see translation below). To dig a bit deeper, I looked at alBaradei’s National Association for Change which is an Egyptian/international organization.

It is likewise understandable that Dr. alBaradei's NAC would support him. AlBaradei has presented himself to Egypt and the world as the alternative to Mubarak for well over a year. He has pointed out that changes to current Egyptian election laws must be implemented before he could even run for election. In light of the fact that there is no viable opposition party in Egypt--and that Mubarak and his puppet 'National Democratic Party' have done everything to include amending the Egyptian Constitution to insure that there is no opposition--an Egyptian of alBaradei's international standing may be the only hope that Egypt has at this point.
A lot has been made of  the fact that alBaradei has had a longstanding discourse with the Moslem Brotherhood. For a person who has been essentially out of the country for nearly 30 years--with political ambitions in Egypt--it to be expected that he would 'cozy up' to the only influential political force in Egypt not aligned with Mubarak. At one time (2005), the Moslem Brotherhood held about 17% of the seats in the Egyptian Parliament. That is, until Mubarak decided they were getting too powerful. And considering the stated goals of the Moslem Brotherhood, Mubarak’s action might have been justifiable.
The Ikhwaan (the brothers), as the Moslem Brotherhood is named in Arabic, in an international organization of Islamists/Salafists which was founded in 1928 in Egypt. Many of the Islamic organizations throughout the world today are simply fronts which present a civilized face--that includes here in the United States--but few experts doubt their objective remains an Islamic Caliphate based on Sharia'a law.  The Council for American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) has deep ties to Hamas, a well know Moslem Brotherhood group. In Egypt, the Moslem Brotherhood provides huge amounts of public aide directly to those who need it most. It is a proven method to gain grassroots support and has been used all over the Middle East, most recently by Hezbollah in Lebanon. The Moslem Brotherhood pioneered this method of coalition building at the grassroots level. So, although it us understandable that alBaradei would approach the only organized, politically powerful group in Egypt besides Mubarak's NDP, it is still cause for concern.
alBaradei's National Association for Change was established to build local and international support (coalitions) and leverage the internet and social networking. It is an international organization, and alBaradei's announcement on its Arabic-only homepage lays out its background and goals (this is my 'gist' translation only. I probably made numerous mistakes as it has been nearly 14 years since I even so much as looked at Arabic. A screen shot of the original homepage is below) :
Statement by Dr alBaradei, "Together We Will Change":
In the light of my meetings with all the various Egyptian political affiliations, religious men and women, and representatives of the general society and the young, I was touched by an almost unanimous need for change in Egypt. There was broad agreement on the need to unite all the voices calling for change under a National Association. They requested I be in the forefront and stand with them to ensure that the general framework of the association represents the whole range of calls for change.The main objective of the association is working to reach a political system based on true democracy and social justice. The first step on this road is to ensure basic guarantees for free and fair elections, whether legislative or presidential, elections which include all Egyptians and where there is equal opportunity for all. This will provide the safeguards and procedures which have been demanded by a broad spectrum of Egyptian society for many years, particularly:
1. End the state of emergency.
2. To enable the Egyptian judiciary to supervise the full electoral process as a whole.
3. Control of the election by local and international civil society organizations.
4. To provide equal opportunity/access in/to the media for all candidates, especially in presidential elections.
5. To enable Egyptians abroad to exercise their right to vote in embassies and consulates.
6. To ensure the right to stand in the presidential election without arbitrary restrictions in line with Egypt's obligations under the International Convention for Civil and Political Rights, and to limit the right to run for the presidency to two terms.
7. Elections by national number.
In order to attain some of these procedures and safeguards to amend articles 76, 77 and 88 of the Constitution as soon as possible.
I would like to emphasize in this regard that the doors of the "National Assembly for Change" are open to all Egyptians inside and outside Egypt who agree with the need to change starting with the achievement of the safeguards and procedures described, to calling special elections, to a new constitution that guarantees every Egyptian has the right to a dignified life, to beginning a comprehensive program of social and economic reform so that in the end it is the people who are the ultimate rulers.
Indeed, because the main goals of this association is not limited to changing the rules of running for president, or even who would run in the election; but because it is a quest to change the overall system by mobilizing popular support in a peaceful manner, that I have chosen Dr. Hassan Nafia, Professor of Political Science at Cairo University, to be the overall coordinator of the association. "Together We Will Change"

With the exception of the references to 'true democracy and social justice' there is little in this statement and these goals with which one could argue. And the goal of 'true democracy' in the case of Egypt--a titular democracy at best--is realistic and laudable goal. But as the day-to-day leader tends to define an organization, I looked into Dr. Hassan Nafia (Nafea). Nafia appears to be politically active and a somewhat old-school Arab Nationalist who cares about his country. He has expressed mildly pro-Syrian/anti-American sentiments about the rule of the democratic Syrian despot Bashar Assad, but has also irritated the anti-government forces in Sudan. If you want to get a better feel for him, he was interviewed by al-Jazeera in February 2010 regarding alBaradei. The whole video is easily worth watching. There is an article in an Egyptian newspaper, also from February 2010, on the 'activists' welcoming alBaradei at Cairo airport. Please notice two things; how little harassment there appears to be of these political activists who are blatantly showing their allegiance to alBaradei over a year ago; and please also notice how professional the signs are?

Jan 29, 2011

Demonstrations in US supporting democracy in Egypt organized by ‘extremist’ groups

While reading up on the events in Egypt, my wife and I noticed that the signs used in a number of US demonstrations were very professional looking. Normally, spontaneous events—such as the tea party—have almost exclusively used hand-made signage. Not so in the demonstrations in Washington, San Francisco and New York today. There were hand-made signs, certainly, but a good number were very professional. Who made them?
After a little digging, it turns out that three organizations were responsible for those signs; ANSWER Coalition, International Action Center and the Egyptian Association For Change (EAC). Although the EAC did produce some of the printed signs, it is to be expected since they are a local chapter of Mohamed ElBaradei’s National Association for Change. Although ElBaradei’s group is left radical—they call for ‘true’ democracy and ‘social justice’—it will take a while to provide more information. I am having a bit of trouble with the translation of the web-site. (I am rusty!).
The other two organizations, ANSWER (‘Act Now to Stop War and End Racism’) Coalition and International Action Center are deeply involved and have long histories of radical and socialist/communist activities in the United States.

ANSWER Coalition has actively promoted the rallies. It even provided the signs. It has a well know radical background which includes ‘co-opting...anti-war rallies to push their larger agenda which includes ending capitalism…’ as well as their association with the Stalinist Workers World Party. ANSWER Coalition is linked with the International Action Center (IAC), which is thought to be a front group for International ANSWER, which is staffed by the Workers World Party. IAC was started by former Attorney General Ramsey Clark, and its National Co-Director is Brian Becker and Western Region Co-Director Richard Becker.  Brian Becker, has been associated with the Answer Coalition, too. IAC’s radical background is documented here.
I spent a number of years living in Egypt, and I think it is a great country. Even back in the 1980’s when I was there, Mubarak’s government was corrupt. I fully support the Egyptian people’s efforts to wrest control of their destinies from the government. I just hope that they won’t be sold a bill of goods by organizations like the ANSWER Coalition and the International Action Center who want to substitute their totalitarian socialist ‘true’ democracy for  liberty. The Egyptian people deserve better than substituting one dictatorship for another.

Jan 26, 2011

Who Governs in America?

After watching the State of the Union and all the responses, I find that I am sick and tired of hearing about 'governing'. Every News show, every soundbite in the media talks about 'We were elected, and now we just have to govern.' Or some such nonsense. When exactly did this change occur in all the capitals around this nation that our representatives now think of themselves as our governors?
Yes, back during the Constitutional Convention one can read of some using the term--usually the Federalists like Hamilton I have to point out--but not nearly to the extent that one hears it today. When I hear the term 'govern', I think of kings, dictators, despots, commissars, czars (is there something to this, given our current penchant to dubbing un-elected bureaucrats with this title?), and totalitarians in general. Not my congressman 

Jan 23, 2011

Video: Niall Ferguson-Fiscal Crises and Imperial Collapses: Historical Perspective

By far, this is one of the best videos I have seen regarding our current sovereign debt crisis. In May, 2010, the Peterson Institute for International Economics sponsored a lecture by Niall Ferguson, of Harvard Business School and the London School of Economics on the history of sovereign debt crises entitled: Fiscal Crises and Imperial Collapses: Historical Perspective on Current

Jan 16, 2011

Reframing the Global Warming Argument

I often get a chuckle from the rather transparent attempts by Global Warming True Believers to revive the national discourse on global warming. When frigid winters with record low temperatures continue to crop up and threaten to debunk their argument for massive spending to avert the impending disaster, they simply change the title from "Global Warming' to 'Climate Change' and hope no one notices. With the publication of reams of emails that debunk the very 'experts' who are doctoring the evidence and attempting to discredit and silence their skeptics, the effort shifts toward ignoring the evidence, finding new, still credible sources which justify their faith, and mischaracterizing the argument itself.
A blog post on from Jan 13, 2011, Increased insurance claims my be due to climate change shows just how desparate the movement is apparently getting as they are now even willing to use the hated 'free market' and capitalism to bolster their arguments. (Who can doubt that the politicians--who are of course in the pocket of the insurance industry--will quickly fall in line.)
The article begins by informing us that insurance companies are reporting a dramatic increase in natural disasters.
As natural disasters have risen, so have insurance claims.  That being the case, insurance companies are noticing trends that most of us are missing.
 After accurately reporting the distorting effect of population increases and the associated regional development, it goes on to indicate that
Ernst Rauch, who heads the company’s [Munich Reinsurance] Corporate Climate Center...[says]..."we believe we have indications that climate change is already, at least to some extent, visible."
 With this damning evidence in hand, the author proceeds to conflate the above quote on 'climate change' with 'global warming'.
More tropical storms and Hurricanes are expected to hit the U.S.  Global warming is increasing their intensity which increases the amount of damage they leave in their wake.
Of course, warming is 50% of climate change, so there could easily be nothing in this statement with which to object. But two paragraphs later we get the statement that
While politicians bicker over the reality of climate change, insurance companies are dealing with its reality. 
Here is where the author makes the fallacious logical jump. First, in general, politicians are not bickering over the 'reality of climate change'; I know of no politician who would argue with the statement that 'climate change is real and has existed since the concept of climate itself has existed'. No, politicians are bickering over the existence or extent of anthropogenic climate change. Second, they are bickering about the extent to which we should dedicate limited resources--and whose resources--to attempting to influence climate change. In the minds of the global warming deniers, both of these decisions must be based on the validity of the scientific modeling used to predict climate change, as well as the elimination of any competing hypotheses for the climate changes we are witnessing today. In other words, reliable scientific proofs combined with targeted, workable solutions. Neither of which currently exist.
It is good that the circumstantial evidence gathered by the insurance industry points to a change in climate; if it did not, the veracity of the evidence itself should be questioned. But the way this essay uses the evidence is nothing more than an extension of the correlation = causation logical fallacy--combined with some artful conflation of 'climate change' with 'anthropogenic global warming'.
Politicians and the people they represent don't need more propaganda that simply further harms the credibility of the sources and delays any substantive action. What they need is solid scientific evidence and realistic, potential solutions from which to choose.