Sunday, February 20, 2005

Part-Time Legislatures

California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger wants to break the grip of special interests and the political parties on the state legislature by returning the legislature to a part-time schedule from the full-time schedule it currently holds.

A part-time legislature will also help return democracy to goverment. By making the legislature a part-time body, legislators will need to also have 'real' jobs when not in session. Since the legislature would revert to part-time status, they could be paid considerably less, and as well their paid staff expenses would be less. Most importantly, the legislature would have less time to create new regulation, and less time to overspend the people's tax money. It's certainly not a lock on getting government spending under control, but it will definitely help.

This may seem like a radical proposal, but we need only review the US Constitution to see that the framers of that document clearly envisioned only a part-time, citizen legislature. Article 1, Section 4, Clause 2 states:

"The Congress shall assemble at least once in every Year, and such Meeting shall be on the first Monday in December, unless they shall by Law appoint a different Day."

This clause was modified in 1933 by the 20th Amendment to read, "The Congress shall assemble at least once in every year, and such meeting shall begin at noon on the 3d day of January, unless they shall by law appoint a different day."

The framers, and later Congress and the states affirmed through passage of the 20th Amendment, the clear intent that the Congress "shall assemble at least once in every year". Twice has the idea of a part-time legislature been formalized in the Constitution. In fact, reading this passage suggests that the framers, and possibly the later Congress who proposed a modification to it, foresaw a legislature that met FOR ONE DAY only!

Another benefit of a part-time legislature is the idea of "citizen goverment". The framers clearly wanted the legislature to be comprised of average citizens. The "consent of the governed" is also codified in the Constitution, and the idea was that We the People would meet each year to write the laws underwhich we agreed to live. The executive branch, as its name implies, would 'execute' these laws, either as president of the United States or as a state governor.

If the framers could see our now-professional legislatures, they would be shocked.

[This post was also posted at Blogger News Network.]

Saturday, February 19, 2005

Racism, the GOP, and the Democratic Party

Deroy Murdock writes in Friday's National Review Online to describe the awful history of Democrats and racism. More importantly, he writes as we did in this space here and here several months ago how the Republican party was founded on the concept of protecting the rights of blacks in America. The Democrat party has been working feverishly since the 1960's to try to re-write their racist past. Mr. Murdock goes a long way to reverse that thinking. An excerpt:

Today marks the 90th anniversary of a very special White House ceremony. President Woodrow Wilson [Democrat] hosted his Cabinet and the entire U.S. Supreme Court for a screening of D. W. Griffith's racist masterpiece, Birth of a Nation. The executive mansion's first film presentation depicted, according to Griffith, the Ku Klux Klan's heroic, post-Civil War struggle against the menace of emancipated blacks, portrayed by white actors in black face. As black civil-rights leader W.E.B. DuBois explained: In Griffith's 1915 motion picture, "The freed man was represented either as an ignorant fool, a vicious rapist, a venal or unscrupulous politician, or a faithful idiot."

Here is the entire article.

The 2004 Elections are still going on in some places

For most of the country the election of last November is long over. However, there are a couple of places where it continues. We've been following the election "contest" in the Washington state governors race, wherein the election first won in several recounts by the Republican Dino Rossi, but then lost to the Democrat Christine Gregoire in the final hand recount. Rossi filed an contest of the election based on lost of troubling election problems. SoundPolitics seems to be a reasonably good source of information, albeit from a Republican point of view. It seems to us at the LTS that the liberal side of the disagreement is trying to ignore the election contest and hope it just blows over. It seems like they hope that the longer Gregoire is in office the more legitimate she'll become in the eyes of voters. But according to polling data, something like 60% of Washington voters want a re-vote.

Here in southern California we have similar election situations. In Oceanside, a small coastal city in northern San Diego County, one of the sitting council members won the mayoral race, leaving an open seat on the council. Since then the debate was centered on appointing a replacement or holding a special election. Some argued that the third-place vote getter in the two other council-seat races should be appointed, thus avoiding an expensive special election. Others favored letting the people decide in a special election, especially since fully two years remain on the vacant term. In the end, the now four-member council deadlocked 2-2 on all prospective appointees, forcing the special election. The fact that they could not decide clearly seems to us to justify the special election. Small town politics are sometimes the nastiest, and Oceanside, while over 170,000 in population, has certainly got some politics and back-room deal making going on! It should be interesting to see how the the campaign, and the election plays out in June.

In San Diego, the mayoral race was decided by about 2,000 votes in a city of 1.25 million residents. The dispute was over a write-in candidate in the general election. First, the city charter prohibits write-in's in the general election, to ensure that only two candidates appear on the ballot so that one is assured a majority. The city election ordinance, however, conflicts with the charter on this point. A post-election challenge to the viability of the write-in candidate was denied, since the challenge was filed AFTER the election. There was a second challenge since the vote tally fell in favor of the write-in, if ballots incorrectly marked were counted. The courts ruled that the ballots shall NOT be counted, because state law is very clear on this point. However, appeals are likely since the Democrats backing the write-in think the "intent of the voter" should be paramount despite the law. No one realistically expects the appeals to prevail, however, they will go forward.

Friday, February 18, 2005

New Study throws a wrench in the "global warming skeptic" point of view

A new study by a group of scientists at the Scripps Institute of Oceanography says that global warming is real, and its strongest effects can be seen in the oceans, not the atmosphere.

If this study can withstand scrutiny, it surely 'throws a wrench' into the argument by skeptics on the subject. I haven't had a chance to review the report nor any reviews of the report, but on the face of it, it seems likely to bring around those (like me) who have been highly skeptical of global warming.

Here is a link.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Global Warming article from the Wall Street Journal

No time for comment now, but saw this long article worthy of reading.


The above is a great article (via Greenie Watch) that does an excellent job of illustrating the Hockey Stick debate (see my posts below as well).

Given that today the Kyoto Protocols take effect, it would also be wise to consider what Kyoto really is: a wealth transfer from the rich nations to the poor. The countries who have the most, and pollute the most are being asked to spend billions of dollars to clean up, while the poorest nations can continue to pollute. The root of the debate about global warming, at least politically, is money.

Southern Ocean Changes

A multinational team of scientists have discovered significant changes in salinity and temperature of the southern ocean, according to a recent article on Using a network of free-floating submersible measurement robots, the scientific team surveyed roughly 3,000 square kilometers of the southern ocean to measure deep water temperature and salinity.

The team leader, Australian Steve Lintour, described how the deep water of the southern ocean was found to be much colder and less salty that ten years prior. The Yahoo article quotes Mr. Lintour as saying,

"Ocean circulation is a big influence on global climate, so it is critical that we understand why this is happening and why it is happening so quickly," Rintoul said after he and his team docked at Hobart on the Australian island state of Tasmania.

"The surprise was just how rapidly the deepest parts of the ocean are changing, at depths of four or five kilometers (13,200-16,500 feet) below the sea surface," Rintoul said.

"Whether its a natural cycle that takes place over many decades, or it's climate change, it's an indication that the deep ocean can respond much more rapidly to changes that are happening near the surface than we believed possible," he said. "

It is not clear, according to Mr. Lintour, if the changes seen in the ocean temperatures or salinity levels are human-induced changes or part of a normal cycle.

From our high school science classes we all remember the concept of "thermal inertia", which is the ability of a body to resist rapid changes in temperature. Water has a very good thermal inertia, so whatever is the cause of this may be something big and interesting. On the other hand, it may simply be the natural cycling of currents that we are only not beginning to recognize. Just like global warming.

Another point to consider (You knew I couldn't resist!) is that it seems to be well-established science that the oceans 'drive' the atmospheric weather, not the reverse. In other words, the oceans influence the atmosphere by a far larger degree than the atmosphere influences the ocean. That makes sense since the thermal inertial of air is significantly lower than the thermal inertia of water.

As you know if you've read my previous posts, I am a global warming skeptic, and data such as this fuels my skepticism.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

The Global Warming Debate Rages On

I know, I know... you're all getting tired of hearing about global warming. But this subject is just too important to let it go. Just like with the Vietnam war, where the mainstream media (MSM) told us one thing, but the truth was something different, you'll think that human activity is solely responsible for global warming if you listen solely to the MSM. While no one here at the LTS is a scientist, and certainly I am not, we remain skeptics (if you haven't already figured that out) on the subject.

It would be so much easier to simply shut up and go along with the mainstream view on this, but I get very suspicous of 'coincidences'. The fact that those who see humans and our capitalistic society as evil and wrong now have this convenient tool to use to try to bring down all that we have built. That is just too coincidental for me. I don't know for sure that global warming isn't caused by human activity, and it seems logical that we contribute to it.

For that matter, if anyone wants to have a discussion on ways to cut the levels of pollutants we put into the environment, I am ready. I want a clean environment as much as anyone, but it should be done in a reasonable and responsible way. To try to shout down opposition to the prevailing view of the causes of global warming, as it seems so many are want to do is irresponsible at the least. To not question the veracity of science is also irresponsible. Many scientists in the field of climate change DO question the veracity of the prevailing view, and part of our purpose here at the LTS is to try to bring those points of view into focus.

Once such view we saw recently supports our skepticism: (Via Greenie Watch)

At a recent global warming conference in Exeter called by UK prime minister Tony Blair, all the usual fears were aired. Yet real debate about climate change seems to be strictly prohibited.

The week before, another conference organised by the Scientific Alliance at London's Royal Institution raised critical questions about the global warming thesis. This time the Royal Society's president Sir Bob May received frontpage coverage for arguing that the event would be biased and dangerous.

'On one hand we have the IPCC [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change], the rest of the world's major scientific organisations, and the government's chief scientific adviser, all pointing to the need to cut emissions', he wrote. 'On the other we have a small band of sceptics, including lobbyists funded by the US oil industry, a sci-fi writer, and the Daily Mail, who deny the scientists are right. It is reminiscent of the tobacco lobby's attempts to persuade us that smoking does not cause lung cancer. There is no danger this lobby will influence the scientists. But they don't need to. It is the influence on the media that is so poisonous.' (1)

But in fact, those labelled 'sceptics' and those regarded as 'mainstream' actually share much in common. Professor Richard Lindzen of Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), usually regarded as a sceptic but also a lead author for the IPCC, agrees that there is consensus among scientists. That consensus is as follows:

1. While there are inconsistencies in the temperature data, it is very likely that the world has got a bit warmer over the past 100 years - 0.6 degrees Celsius, on average, give or take 0.2 degrees either way.

2. That carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas. The more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, the warmer the world will tend to get.

3. That human activity has led to a significant increase in carbon dioxide levels, from 280 parts per million in the centuries before 1750, to 380 parts per million now.

4. Economic trends will tend to further increase carbon dioxide levels - so it is very plausible that the world will get warmer in the coming decades, all other things being equal.

Here is the whole article.

Put your money where your votes are

We saw a new website organized by our friends on the Left listing companies they feel are either "Blue" or "Red", like "Blue states" or "Red States" from the past election. They want you to ony patronize "blue" companies, but people of all political stripes can use the list to buy either Red, Blue, or in between.

We'll leave it to you to decide.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

The Bush tax cuts are working

William P. Kucewisz writes in today's National Review Online a very interesting article describing how the Bush tax cuts, particularly the June, 2003 cuts, rallied the capital markets and generated big increases in investments. He reports that "net nonresidential capital formation has risen 63%" since the enaction of the June 2003 tax cuts.

Here is his opening paragraph:

"The Bush tax cuts of 2 years ago continue to lay the foundation for a prolonged economic expansion, owing to a conspicuous shift in private expenditures from consumption to investment. The June 2003 tax cuts, in fact, are functioning precisely as promised — boosting GDP to the benefit of all Americans, regardless of income. It’s one of the marvels of supply-side fiscal policy. By raising the incentive to invest, marginal tax-rate reductions augment the ratio of financial capital to labor capital, thus raising labor productivity and, in turn, accelerating growth."

He compares this phenominal growth to those of the Clinton years, writing,

"Since mid-2003, annualized nonresidential capital growth has averaged nearly 30 percent, far surpassing the Clinton-era mean of 13 percent and the 1946-2004 norm of 8 percent."

He also mentions one our favorite topics, that the information technology boom of the 1990's, and the subsequent capital investment made by industry, not the Clinton tax increases of 1993 that brought about the "boom" of the 1990's, writing,

"The pronounced rise in net private nonresidential capital formation in the 7-year period commencing in 1993 wasn’t initiated by the Clinton tax hikes of that year, which eventually caused federal revenues to exceed 21.1 percent of nominal GDP, an all-time high, versus a 1946-2004 mean of 18.1 percent. The investment boom of the 1990s was instead initiated by an exogenous factor — i.e., the IT revolution. A mighty Schumpeterian gale swept across the business world in the form of PCs, the Internet, and other information technology. Competitive pressures demanded that businesses invest heavily in IT. Ergo, private fixed non-housing investment climbed in the last decade despite the 1993 tax increases."

He added this:

"Democrats, however, aided by a pliant (and largely economically illiterate) Washington press corps, continue to foist the fiction that the Clinton tax hikes produced the 1990s boom by closing the federal budget deficit. This is patent nonsense. For a start, they’ve got the cause-effect deficit-GDP relationship backwards: The deficit closed because economic growth quickened, not the other way ’round."

Read the whole article here.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

The "Hockey Stick" debate again

John Ray at Greenie Watch has a great link to the debate about the Hockey Stick debate. It seems that the two Canadians we discussed here have been having a quite a debate about the whole matter with the original author of the study that described the "Hockey Stick", which has become the linchpin for the IPCC papers and the very foundation of the prevailing view of global warming. Dr. Ray sums it up nicely:

The original hockey-stick team now seem to be ignoring most of the data and hanging their whole case on a single sample of long-lived desert trees -- bristlecone pines. That what happens in one desert might not represent the whole climate of the earth is obvious to anyone who knows how great regional climate variations can be. Due to local effects, one place can be cooling while the other is warming and vice versa.

Obviously, we are not scientists, but we are struck by the fact that the author of the original Hockey Stick study, Michael Mann, who publishes at, seem to attack their critics above for being statisticians, not scientists. However, their criticisms are how the data was analysed statistically, their field of expertise!

Here is a link to the original work.

Saturday, February 05, 2005

Social Security Reforms

We are astonished over the amount of fear and consternation from the Left on the president's proposed reforms to Social Security (SS). It was just a few years ago, in fact, that the Left was shouting about the need to "save SS". They complained, especially Al Gore during his failed presidential campaign in 2000, about the need for a "lockbox" for SS, and that the system would be broke for future generations if major reforms were not undertaken. It seems clear that his concerns were mostly for raids from the Treasury, but there was also the strong message that the system in general was 'broken' and needed fixing.

Now that the Democrats are even further out of power, however, they claim that the system is NOT broken. Their fear, of course, is that now they don't have much power to stop any reforms that might wind their way through the halls of Congress and to the president's desk. They don't want the Republicans, and especially not George Bush to be able to take the credit for reforms that might actually work, as that would further erode their claim to be the protectors of SS from the 'evils of capitalism'.

Let's face it, the reforms proposed by the president are mild; Allow middle aged and younger worker the opportunity—if they CHOOSE—to divert up to 1/3rd of their 6.2% payroll tax for SS into private accounts. The amount of money is capped at only $1,000 in 2009, and will raise by about $100 each year thereafter.

The plan itself would work like the Thrift Savings Plan, which has been available to federal employees for years and is like a 401-k plan. There are several investment choices, diversified like mutual funds, and even includes a fund that invests in more conservative holdings as the worker approaches retirement.

Apparently many people are afraid of investing, and know little about it. That is hard for us at the LTS to believe, given the amount of information available to the average person these days. Most of us who work have some sort of a 401-k plan available through our employers, and IRA's have been around now for almost 20 years. The internet, which brings you this incredibly informative space, is loaded with financial advice, information, and results. Free seminars on investing are everywhere. There is no excuse for not being informed on the ins and outs of investing basics.

We support a plan that allows workers to invest part or all of their payroll taxes for SS into private accounts, and will monitor the debate and report facts and offer opinions on what is being proposed.

Friday, February 04, 2005

How do you like our new look?

The Lost Tooth Society felt that a change was in order, so we downloaded a new blog template, modified it to meet our needs, and viola, here it is! We hope you like its easier-reading style, plus for all you "linkers", we now feature "permalinks", where you can link directly to a post.

Let us know ho you like it!

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Still More on Global Warming

Greenie Watch has some great links on global warming, specifically dealing with the "hockey stick" debate. "The Hockey Stick", for those of you who haven't followed so closely the debate on global warming, refers to a study from the late 1990's describing the rise of global temperatures as a hockey stick laid on its side with the blade at the right, and pointing up. The long, flat stick portion is the state of global temperature for the last 1,000 years, and the blade, where the line spikes up dramatically, is the years since the Industrial Revolution in the late 1800's. This study is the very foundation of the common view of global warming, hence anything that undermines it is a threat to the global warming lobby.

Recently two Canadians have been publishing new examinations of the underlying data used to create the Hockey Stick that show serious flaws in the math, which is discussed in more detail HERE.

Here's an excerpt:

The hockey-stick image has appeared in countless documents and hundreds of speeches. The opening graphic in the recently-published Arctic Climate Impact Assessment report reproduces the Mann chart as the main springboard to hundreds of pages on climate risks in the Arctic. It is also the core justification for the Kyoto Protocol, which comes into effect on Feb. 16.

Until now, criticisms of the hockey stick have been dismissed as fringe reports from marginal global warming skeptics. Today, however, the critical work of two Canadian researchers, Ross McKitrick, an economics professor at Guelph University, and Toronto consultant Stephen McIntyre, will be published by Geophysical Research Letters, the prestigious journal that published one of the early versions of Michael Mann's 1,000-year tracking of Northern Hemisphere temperatures,

Publication in Geophysical Research sets McIntyre and McKitrick's analysis and conclusions in direct opposition to the Mann research. Their criticism can no longer be dismissed as if it were untested research posted on obscure Web sites by crank outsiders. Their work is now a full challenge to the dominant theme of the entire climate and global warming movement.