Tuesday, August 15, 2006

The Estate Tax Debate

Nothing illuminates the differences between the left and right side of the political spectrum better than the debate over the estate tax. The Left generally argues that large estates should be significantly taxed when ownership passes from one generation to the next. Their desire for maintaining the estate tax is rooted in their deep-seeded need for equality of outcomes. They despise what they see as the inequality of the wealthy versus the poor, and seek to penalize the wealthy for their (or their ancestor’s) hard work and financial success.

The estate tax, however, is simply another collectivist tactic to redistribute wealth. The Left, of course, sees government intervention into the accumulation and concentration of capital as a noble and worthy cause. They are either unaware, or choose to ignore the alternative, and much more efficient use of that capital: Investment in the economy.

The vast fortunes of the “super rich”, as the Left likes to call them, are working in the economy. They invest in corporations, providing necessary capital to these companies who in turn provide jobs for Americans. Many of the Super Rich invest in government securities and bonds that provide the public with money for schools, and roads, and housing for the poor, etc., while providing a safe and secure income to the wealthy. In addition, the wealthy pay income tax (depending on the government security) on the income and on the income from their investments in the private sector.

The investments of the wealthy also are invested in banks and other financial institutions who in turn provide loans and financial assistance to low and middle income people (as well as to the rich themselves).

In short, keeping capital in the hands of individuals instead of government more efficiently and effectively delivers “wealth redistribution” than does the paltry estate tax, which, by the way, amounts to barely over 1% of revenues (in 2005).


Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Global Warming Skeptics of the Scientific Kind

Every day I scan a variety of news sources to find news on global warming. Every day I find them, but virtually all of them discuss the impact to the environment from global warming, not the cause of global warming itself. That, they argue, is settled science. Since the scientific evidence that human activity (anthropogenic global warming, or AGW) is the cause of global warming is so weak, and the possible alternative causes are so many, those who are proponents of the idea that AGW causes global warming have little else to rest their argument on except to say that 'that is that' and the issue is settled. They want to quickly move on to how to the 'let's fix the problem' phase since their causation argument is so weak.

A recent post in the Canada Free Press by guest columnist Tom Harris provides further evidence that that AGW argument is weak. To wit:

'"While many are highly skilled researchers, they generally do not have special knowledge about the causes of global climate change," explains former University of Winnipeg climatology professor Dr. Tim Ball. "They usually can tell us only about the effects of changes in the local environment where they conduct their studies."

This is highly valuable knowledge, but doesn't make them climate change cause experts, only climate impact experts."
He goes on:

"Among experts who actually examine the causes of change on a global scale, many concentrate their research on designing and enhancing computer models of hypothetical futures. "These models have been consistently wrong in all their scenarios," asserts Ball. "Since modelers concede computer outputs are not "predictions" but are in fact merely scenarios, they are negligent in letting policy-makers and the public think they are actually making forecasts."

We should listen most to scientists who use real data to try to understand what nature is actually telling us about the causes and extent of global climate change. In this relatively small community, there is no consensus, despite what Gore and others would suggest."
The above refers the Al Gore's recent movie about global warming. One of the climate scientists quoted in Mr. Harris' article, Professor Bob Carter of the Marine Geophysical Laboratory at James Cook University, Australia, says of Gore:

"The man is an embarrassment to US science and its many fine practitioners, a lot of whom know (but feel unable to state publicly) that his propaganda crusade is mostly based on junk science."
I couldn't agree more.


Friday, June 02, 2006

Low post rate

Apologies to my regular readers for the low post rate lately. I had a nice vacation, and have been laying low since just because I needed a break. But I am soon to begin posting again, especially with a special election looming next Tuesday here in California.

Some other potenial post subject I have been formulating in my mind are:

  • Why do movie and music stars think anyone care what they think about politics?
  • The American people's dissatisfaction with the two major political parties.
  • Exposing how, despite the best efforts of the Left and the MSM, the economy and tax revenues are booming as a result of the Bush tax cuts, and how the rich are paying more taxes than ever.
  • Lamenting the high spending rate of government (see item two above)
Those are just a few ideas. I post when I can, but try to post meaningful, researched, thinking.

Please stop by again soon!

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

A Perfect Machine to a Socialist

Listening to news reports of announcement that he is nationalizing his country's oil and natural gas reserves and industries got me thinking again about socialism, and why it is so unnatural to the human experience.

Leftism in general, and socialist-collectivism in particular is rooted in the desire for equality. Supporters of leftist principles have a strong drive for equality. Not equal opportunity— equal outcomes. Leftists don't care at all about equal opportunity; they only care that when all is said and done, everything and everyone is equal. That is why socialism is so appealing to the Left.

Socialism is often described by free-market supporters as inefficient, and a good metaphor of that inefficiency would be a machine. A socialist machine is extremely inefficient because no matter how much energy or effort is put into the machine, it ouputs the same amount of work. Never more, and over time, ususally less. You could fill it's tank with rocket fuel or with water, and still it would run at the same speed. Since the machine can never increase its output, which would mean inequality of outcomes, there is also no incentive to improve the machine.

It is terribly inefficient, and serves poorly the need for which it was intended, but is satisfying to a leftist because each input fuel or effort would result, in the end, in an equal outcome. The rocket fuel, despite its volatile nature, is of no more value to the machine than the water. Equal outcome. A perfect machine to a socialist.

Another metaphor of the inefficiency of socialism would be a simple vending machine. The socialist vending machine would accept any currency, in any denomination or amount, but would dispense the same product in the same amount for each transaction. Input is irrelevant; outcomes are equal. A perfect machine to a socialist.

Most humans are simply not wired for thinking like this. Like the posts below, most of us expect that better efforts should be rewarded with better results. Free-market capitalism delivers equal opportunity, but also rewards those who strive for better results. Socialism, conversely, provides incentive to provide as little effort as possible since the reward for effort will be the same with high or low effort. Over time, society suffers under socialism because no one strives for excellence, and consequently, advancements in technology, medicine, etc. are notachievedd. Capitalism, on the other hand, builds a better society because those willing to put forth more and better effort are rewarded with better results. Society gains because most people see the potential for personal and societal gain, and they therefore put more effort into their work.

You'd think that such obvious shortcomings of a political-economic system would dissuade anyone from pursuing it, especially considering the colossal failures of repeated so often in the 20th century, yet the movement is once again gaining a foothold in South America.

Socialism has never, and will never work.

[Edited for spelling and clarity—JZS]

Related posts:


Tuesday, May 02, 2006

May 1st Immigration Protests

Last night my wife, sister-in-law, and I went out to dinner. We couldn't go to our favorite restaurant because they were closed "due to lack of employees". Another favorite restaurant across the street was also closed, and we saw numerous taco shops also closed.

Driving though nearby Vista just past 5:00pm, several cars were driving around, honking horns and waving Mexican flags. No American flags could be seen, just flags of Mexico. A few other drivers would honk in apparent support.

Otherwise not much impact that I could see here in north San Diego county.


Sunday, April 30, 2006

Uno de Mayo

[Sing this like a high school cheer]

I have papers
Yes, I do
I have papers
How 'bout you?

Seems like an appropriate song for the big demonstrations on Monday.


Saturday, April 29, 2006

Bush Tax Cuts: Soaking the Rich

I heard an interesting commentary on Marketplace.org the day by Steve Moore, of the Wall Street Journal, discussing the effects of the Bush tax cuts. Contrary to what most on the Left believe, and what the MSM continually reports, the Bush tax cuts have substantially move the burden of income tax to the rich and off the poor. The rich are paying more taxes than ever before, and income tax dollars paid to the government are up over the last two years more than ever before in US history.

The Bush tax cuts have been routinely assailed as multimillion dollar giveaways to the Rolls Royce owners of America at the expense of the middle class.

But new IRS statistics on the taxes Americans pay show that George Bush's tax policies actually soak the rich.

It turns out that the income tax burden has substantially shifted onto the wealthy. The percentage of federal income taxes paid by those who make more than $200,000 a year has actually risen from 41% to 47% in recent years.

In other words, the richest 3 out of 100 Americans are now paying close to the same amount in income taxes as the other 97% of workers combined.

It's also a common myth that the rich are hording all the wealth, while the middle class stays stuck in economic quicksand.

The IRS data show that the share of all income earned by the wealthiest 10% of Americans has actually fallen since 2001. The rich are earning less of the total income but paying more of the total taxes.

During this economic expansion, the middle class is growing and becoming more prosperous. About 4 out of 10 Americans now make more than $50,000 a year -- that's up from 3 out of 10 in 1990.

There's more good news. Tax revenues over the past two years are up more than half a trillion dollars — the largest two-year increase in tax collections in history.

Bush cut the capital gains and dividend taxes, but guess what? Now those tax receipts are through the roof in the last two years.

It's called the Laffer Curve: a lower tax rate has increased economic growth and investment and thus the government gets more tax revenues.

The Bush tax cuts have pumped steroids into the US economy and created 5 million new jobs, a surge in new business investment and record worker productivity.

Those are the reasons to make the tax cuts permanent. But for those who really want to sock it to the rich, the Bush tax cuts have done that too.


Friday, April 21, 2006

Leftism: Where Truth is a Fluid Concept

Reading the brouhaha about the recent 'outing' of a left-wing blogger's multiple pseudonymous escapades into flogging his critics and praising himself, I remembered some of the things Dr. John Ray has so often taught us over the years about leftists: They see nothing wrong with lying or deceiving if it furthers their political agenda.

Why aren't they more (I can't actually think of ANY) conservative writers who have been caught fudging the truth for their political agenda.


Saturday, April 15, 2006

Immigration Reform

Living here in southern California, the impact of illegal immigration across our southern border is direct, powerful, and widespread. Each morning on my way to work I pass several 'hiring' areas for illegals were as many as 60 or 80 men wait each morning for work. I drive a pickup truck, so as I pass the men raise their hands and wave, hoping for a day's work and a day's pay. I've never stopped, but often see other trucks doing so.

The debate over immigration reform is passionate. Many people I know want all illegals deported immediately, period. But I see the situation as being much more complex. For a country built by the sweat and blood of immigrants to now want to close the door on immigration is, for me, nearly oxymoronic. As reads the plaque at the base of the Statue of Liberty:
"Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed, to me:
I lift my lamp beside the golden door."
I grew up to understand that those words signified a country better and different than all others, a place where everyone, regardless of class, wealth, race, education, religion, or political views were welcome. That is the America I know.

Ronald Reagan spoke often of a "shining city on a hill", and said this in his farewell address:

"I've spoken of the Shining City all my political life... In my mind it was a tall, proud city built on rocks stronger than oceans, windswept, God-blessed, and teeming with people of all kinds living in harmony and peace; a city with free ports that hummed with commerce and creativity. And if there had to be city walls, the walls had doors and the doors were open to anyone with the will and the heart to get here. That's how I saw it, and see it still."
I see it that way, too. "Anyone with the will and the heart to get here". Those are powerful words, with powerful meaning. I am not asserting that Ronald Reagan advocated illegal immigration, but he certainly took a more compassionate view of it than many who are opposed to it now.

We all benefit from immigration, even if it is illegal. Our food is less expensive, our hotels are cleaner and rates are lower, our lawns are mowed, our trees are pruned, our dishes washed, our food prepared, our houses cleaned, and our children are cared for by illegal aliens. Not always are they illegal, but often. Even if you don't think you've hired illegals to work on your landscaping, or to clean your house, the legitimate company you hired may well hire illegals. There is no way to tell by just looking, and let's be honest, most of us don't really want to know.

In my neighborhood, a newer up-scale tract development, I was one of only a handful of residents who hired a licenced contractor to do the work. Even then I am confident that some of the guys working for the contractor were not working legally. Illegal immigrants are everywhere——at least here in the San Diego area—— and there is almost nothing you can do without encountering an illegal, hiring an illegal, benefiting directly or indirectly from the work of an illegal alien.

The recent immigrant protests that have gripped many large cities makes clear the impracticality of some of the proposals being discussed in Washington regarding immigration reform. Estimated at nearly 12 million people, how would we deport them all, let alone find them? If the Senate's version is agreed to, with provisions to treat those who've been here for longer differently, how many of those 12 million will admit that they've only been here for a year or two? They are here illegally anyway, and there are systems in place to create false documents. If their options are to go back to their home country, or to obtain new documents 'proving' their residence, I am confident that most will get new documents.

Moreover, many of these people have built lives here. They've gotten married, had children, (who are US citizens) pay taxes (maybe not income taxes), bought homes, work hard, support their communities, and help build our economy. Many of the students who protested recently did so because the US House version of immigration reform would make THEIR PARENTS felons. These are the same people we see on our roads, at the PTA meetings, in parks, at work, building our pools, and cleaning our houses.

Finally, the biggest impediment to immigration reform is the border itself. If the border is not secured, and none of the plans I've seen would further secure it, then no laws we write to address people already here will matter at all. The first thing we must do, if we want to keep people out, is to secure the border. That will take tens or hundreds of billions of dollars, tens of thousands of troops, and far more political will than I've seen from any politician.

If you haven't figured out my position on immigration reform yet, I support a guest worker program, and amnesty for those already here. I would deport all illegals involved in criminal activity, once they've served out their sentences, but for the vast majority of people living in this country who simply seek a better life, please stay and help us build a better country.

A final footnote: To provide better security against terrorism, I do strongly support a significantly tighter border, including a border-long fence. I am very concerned about terrorists entering this country with WMD's across our very porous southern border. Only a fence and more border security will stop this kind of traffic.


Saturday, April 01, 2006

Impeach Bush??

No doubt you have heard the rising chorus from the Left to . Impeachment is no doubt the #1 priority of the extremists now in control of the Democrat Party. Should the Democrats win control of the US House of Representatives in November, I have no doubt that Articles of Impeachment against the Bush administration will the first item on their agenda. If the Democrats should also win control of the US Senate in November, then Bush's conviction and removal from office is a real possibility.

But on what legal grounds could articles of impeachment be presented? Those advocating impeachment usually cite four arguments that form the legal basis of the pro-impeachment lobby:
  1. That Bush violated international and domestic law by invading Iraq;
  2. That Bush lied about prewar intelligence, and lied about a connection between Iraq and al Qaeda;
  3. That Bush violated international laws and treaties, as well as the US Constitution, by holding "enemy combatants" indefinitely without hearings;
  4. That Bush violated the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) of 1978 with "warrantless" wiretapping of American citizens;
On the one hand, I am shocked that the MSM isn't more carefully dismantling these positions, but on the other, not. At least not with the MSM's clear anti-Bush agenda. But let's take these one by one.

First, that Bush violated internation and domestic law by invading Iraq. This is the easiest one to debunk. , virtually all of which were repeatedly violated by the former government of Iraq. Article 33 of (April, 1991) states that only through Iraq's acceptance of the terms of UNR687 will a "formal cease-fire" exist. Iraq continually violated this and virtually all subsequent UN resolutions. Therefore, the cease-fire, by definition, and in accordance with UNR 687 ceased to exist when Iraq violated the terms of 687 and the subsequent resolutions.

Despite a decade of 'second chances', (November, 2002) threatened further "serious consequences" should Iraq not comply with all UN resolutions. Debate ensued over whether further UN action specifically calling for war was legally required prior to any military action, but after ten years and 17 ineffective UN resolutions, and with France, Germany, and Russia virtually guaranteeing a veto over such a resolution, the US, Great Britain, Spain, Italy, Australia, and numerous other countries concluded that no further UN authorization was required to forcably disarm Iraq.

(October, 2002), passing overwhelmingly by both the House and Senate, authorized the president to "...use the Armed Forces of the United States as he determines..." as the excerpt below makes clear: (emphasis added)

The Congress of the United States supports the efforts by the President to--

(a) strictly enforce through the United Nations Security Council all relevant Security Council resolutions applicable to Iraq and encourages him in those efforts; and

(b) obtain prompt and decisive action by the Security Council to ensure that Iraq abandons its strategy of delay, evasion and noncompliance and promptly and strictly complies with all relevant Security Council resolutions.


(a) AUTHORIZATION. The President is authorized to use the Armed Forces of the United States as he determines to be necessary and appropriate in order to

(1) defend the national security of the United States against the continuing threat posed by Iraq; and

(2) enforce all relevant United Nations Security Council Resolutions regarding Iraq.
There is simply no compelling argument that any laws were broken regarding the invasion of Iraq.

Second, that Bush lied about prewar intelligence, and lied about a connection between prewar Iraq and al Qaeda. This one has been repeatedly debunked by many, including The Lost Tooth Society. Recently released and translated files show a . The veracity of these documents is still in question, and it will take years to translate and decipher all 55,000 boxes of seized documents, but based on what has been so far translated, the correctness of the prewar intelligence may well be vindcated.

Moreover, the clearly shows that Saddam Hussein had a strategy to secretly maintain his WMD capabilities while working to use the Oil For Food UN program to bribe his way to the end of sanctions. Once the sanctions were lifted, he would be in an even stronger position to resume his WMD development programs.

Third, that the Bush administration violated international laws and treaties, and the US Constitution by holding indefinitely and without charges "enemy combatants. While the Lost-Tooth Society was initially very troubled by this action, digging into the facts showed that these actions are completely in compliance with all applicable legal standards. Note a key passage from the post above:

The clearly spell out how prisoners of war shall be treated, and Part 1, Article 4, paragraphs 1 and 2 of the III Geneva Conventions defines precisely who is a "prisoner of war":

"(1) Members of the armed forces of a Party to the conflict, as well as members of militias or volunteer corps forming part of such armed forces.'

(2) Members of other militias and members of other volunteer corps, including those of organized resistance movements, belonging to a Party to the conflict and operating in or outside their own territory, even if this territory is occupied, provided that such militias or volunteer corps, including such organized resistance movements, fulfil the following conditions:[ (a) that of being commanded by a person responsible for his subordinates; (b) that of having a fixed distinctive sign recognizable at a distance; (c) that of carrying arms openly; (d) that of conducting their operations in accordance with the laws and customs of war."

Given the specific conditions of part (2), it seems unlikely that many of those detained at Gitmo could be considered POW's under the Geneva Convention. In fact, the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ruled in (July15, 2005) that the Geneva Conventions do not apply to al Qaeda, and that the Geneva Conventions themselves cannot be enforced in US courts.

But ruling in the case in June of 2004, the US Supreme Court held that Gitmo detainees are entitled to challenge their incarceration in federal court, arguing essentially that since the US government holds legal authority over Gitmo and its facilities, that federal courts also hold jurisdiction over the detainees, hence their right to .
The Lost-Tooth Society continues to believe that the indefinite detention of many of these people is unwise, and we welcome the Supreme Court's ruling allowing challenges to detention, but the legality of the detentions is not in question, and is therefore not grounds for impeachment.

Fourth, That Bush violated the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) of 1978 with "warrantless" wiretapping of American citizens. This is no doubt the strongest card in the hand of the pro-impeachment lobby, but is it strong enough to warrant impeachment?

First, some background:

As part of the president's post-9/11 anti-terrorism efforts, he authorized the National Security Agency (NSA) to intercept certain electronic communications from persons outside the USA to persons within the USA, without warrants. is the governing statute regarding this type of surveillance, and around its provisions lie the basis of the argument that the NSA program was was allegedly illegal.

There are very complex and technical legal questions involved here, and my opinions are based on the legal analyses I have read, since I am neither a legal scholar nor an attorney. The central issue revolves around the FISA statute and Separation of Powers issues. FISA is, of course, a statute passed by the Legislative branch of the federal government, not Constitutional provision. Therefore, the applicability of the statute by the legislature, inasmuch as it applys to the Executive branch of the federal government, must be examined in light of Constitutional authority delegated to the Executive branch.

In other words, the Congress cannot by statute constrain the authority of the President beyond those constraints already specified by the Constitution.

Unfortunately for the pro-impeachment crowd, FISA does just that.

There are several excellent authorities that illustrate this point:

John Hinderaker at writes:

The starting point, of course, is the Constitution. Article II of the Constitution sets out the powers and duties of the President. Some people do not seem to realize that the executive branch is coequal with the legislative and judicial branches. The President has certain powers under the Constitution, and they cannot be taken away or limited by Congressional legislation any more than the President can limit the powers of Congress by executive order.

Article II makes the President Commander in Chief of the armed forces. As such he is preeminent in foreign policy, and especially in military affairs. This was no accident; as Alexander Hamilton wrote in Federalist No. 74, "Of all the cares or concerns of government, the direction of war most peculiarly demands those qualities which distinguish the exercise of power by a single hand." The federal courts have long recognized that when it comes to waging war, the President, not Congress or the courts, is the supreme authority. In Fleming v. Page, 9 How. 603, 615 (1850), the Supreme Court wrote that the President has the Constitutional power to "employ [the Nation's armed forces] in the manner he may deem most effectual to harass and conquer and subdue the enemy."
' comments in a debate in late January of this year.

Quoting from Powerline the words of the Attorney General:

[F]rom the outset, the Justice Department thoroughly examined this program against al Qaeda, and concluded that the President is acting within his power in authorizing it. These activities are lawful. The Justice Department is not alone in reaching that conclusion. Career lawyers at the NSA and the NSA’s Inspector General have been intimately involved in reviewing the program and ensuring its legality.

The terrorist surveillance program is firmly grounded in the President’s constitutional authorities. *** It has long been recognized that the President’s constitutional powers include the authority to conduct warrantless surveillance aimed at detecting and preventing armed attacks on the United States. Presidents have uniformly relied on their inherent power to gather foreign intelligence for reasons both diplomatic and military, and the federal courts have consistently upheld this longstanding practice.

If this is the case in ordinary times, it is even more so in the present circumstances of our armed conflict with al Qaeda and its allies.

There are other powerful arguments supporting the legality of the NSA program. (registration required) about the legality of the program,

In 1972 the Supreme Court required the president to obtain warrants to eavesdrop on domestic groups but specifically declined to apply this requirement to snooping on foreign agents. Four appeals courts have since upheld presidential authority for such warrantless searches. Not surprisingly, the executive branch has agreed.

True, Congress tried to restrict this presidential authority with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978. It requires that warrants for wiretapping of enemy agents in the United States be obtained from a secret court. But as John Schmidt, associate attorney general in the Clinton administration, wrote: "Every president since FISA's passage has asserted that he retained inherent power to go beyond the act's terms." Indeed, President Bill Clinton's own deputy attorney general testified to Congress that "the president has inherent authority to conduct warrantless physical searches for foreign intelligence purposes," then noted a few minutes later that "courts have made no distinction between electronic surveillances and physical searches."
Finally, a recently testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee that the president:
"[D]id not act illegally when he created by executive order a wiretapping program conducted by the National Security Agency (NSA)."

On the surface, the calls for impeachment of president Bush over these matters might be worrisome, but once one investigates the actual facts of the case, and the controlling legal authorities, the foundation justifying such action fizzles.


Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Bush's News Conference Tuesday March 21, 2006

I heard the president's news conference live yesterday on my way to work. It was a good session, with the president giving good, thoughtful answers that I figured would be helpful to him. Then I read the headlines later in the day from the MSM, and wondered hw I could have not heard what I heard. They way the MSM made things out to be was completely different than what a listener would have heard had they heard it themselves, as did I. This is just another example of the left-leaning MSM's Bush-bashing.

John Hinderaker at Powerline has a great piece on just this subject.


Thursday, March 16, 2006

Global Warming

The debate about human-induced global warming, better known as "anthropogenic global warming", or AGW, continues to be an extremely political and bitter one. Many scientists consider the science settled, and accept as fact that human activity, specifically the release of so-called "greenhouse gases" into the atmosphere are the cause of the apparent rise in temperature of the Earth's atmosphere. However, there are also many scientists who dispute the theory of AGW. Two such scientists recently published studies suggesting that either radiation from space or as a result of a meteor or comet that exploded over remote Russia in 1908.

In the first case, renowned geochemistry professor Jan Veizer of the university of Ottawa overcame years of reluctance (out of fear of reprisals) to report his theory in Geoscience Canada. An excerpt:

The standard explanation for vagaries of our climate, championed by the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change), is that greenhouse gases, particularly carbon dioxide, are its principal driver. Recently, an alternative model that the sun is the principal driver was revived by a host of empirical observations. Neither atmospheric carbon dioxide nor solar variability can alone explain the magnitude of the observed temperature increase over the last century of about 0.6[degrees]C. Therefore, an amplifier is required. In the general climate models (GCM), the bulk of the calculated temperature increase is attributed to "positive water vapour feedback". In the sun-driven alternative, it may be the cosmic ray flux (CRF), energetic particles that hit the atmosphere, potentially generating cloud condensation nuclei (CCN). Clouds then cool, act as a mirror and reflect the solar energy back into space. The intensity of CRF reaching the earth depends on the intensity of the solar (and terrestrial) magnetic field that acts as a shield against cosmic rays, and it is this shield that is, in mm, modulated by solar activity.
The second example came out just recently by Vladimir Shaidurov of the Russian Academy of Sciences. He says that instead of human activity, the likely source of global warming is the result of something called the Tunguska Meteorite Event, which occured in 1908 in remote Russia.

Quoted from Mosnews.com:

The Tunguska Event, sometimes known as the Tungus Meteorite is thought to have resulted from an asteroid or comet entering the earth’s atmosphere and exploding. The event released as much energy as fifteen one-megaton atomic bombs. As well as blasting an enormous amount of dust into the atmosphere, felling 60 million trees over an area of more than 2000 square kilometres. Shaidurov suggests that this explosion would have caused “considerable stirring of the high layers of atmosphere and change its structure.” Such meteoric disruption was the trigger for the subsequent rise in global temperatures.


Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Free Market Capitalism versus Socialist Collectivism

Seen recently (don't know the author):

"A young woman was about to finish her first year of college. Like so many others her age, she considered herself to be a very liberal Democrat, and was very much in favor of the redistribution of wealth. She was deeply ashamed that her father was a rather staunch Republican, a feeling she openly expressed. Based on the lectures that she had participated in and the occasional chat with a professor, she felt that her father had for years harbored an evil, selfish desire to keep what he thought should be his.

One day she was challenging her father on his opposition to higher taxes on the rich and the addition of more government welfare programs. The self-professed objectivity proclaimed by her professors had to be the truth and she indicated so to her father. He responded by asking how she was doing in school.

Taken aback, she answered rather haughtily that she had a 4.0 GPA, and let him know that it was tough to maintain, insisting that she was taking a very difficult course load and was constantly studying, which left her no time to go out and party like other people she knew. She didn't even have time for a boyfriend, and didn't really have many college friends because she spent all her time studying.

Her father listened and then asked, "How is your friend Audrey doing?"

She replied, "Audrey is barely getting by. All she takes are easy classes, she never studies, and she barely has a 2.0 GPA. She is so popular on campus, college for her is a blast. She's always invited to all the parties, and many times she doesn't even show up for classes because she's too hung over."

Her wise father asked his daughter, "Why don't you go the Dean's office and ask him to deduct 1.0 off your GPA and give it to your friend who only has a 2.0. that way you will both have a 3.0 GPA and certainly that would be a fair and equal distribution of GPA."

The daughter, visibly shocked by her father's suggestion, angrily fired back, "That wouldn't be fair! I have worked really hard for my grades! I've invested a lot of time, and a lot of hard work! Audrey has done next to nothing toward her degree. She played, while I worked my tail off!"

The father slowly smiled, winked and said gently, "Welcome to the Republican Party""


Katrina Video and the AP "Clarification"

of its story earlier this month that erroneously stated that President Bush had been warned prior to the arrival of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans that the levees could be "breached" by the force of the storm. The story cited video evidence shown widely on television news showing the president being briefed on the potential damage from the hurricane. The only problem with the story, is that, as reported here BEFORE the AP issued its "clarification", never during the briefings did anyone use the word "breech". They discussed 'overtopping' the levees, which is considerably different than 'breeching'.

What is important here, besides the embarrassingly elementary mistake by those responsible at the AP, is the fact that they thought they had an "A-HA!" moment. They thought they had video evidence of Bush lying about the levees, since after the hurricane he stated (paraphrasing) that "nobody anticipated the breeching of the levees". It shows yet again how outrageously biased and uncareful the AP is in general, and how so much of the mainstream press obviously must also be to unquestioningly run this so easily debunked story. This is almost as good as the Rathergate scandal.


Friday, March 03, 2006

Katrina: The Democrats and Bush-Haters Still Don't Know the Difference Between "Breaching" and "Overtopping"

John Hinderaker at Powerline shows us once again how the Left, and more disturbingly major components of the MSM, continue to get their facts wrong regarding hurricane Katrina and the levees in New Orleans. As discussed in this forum in September of 2005,

"Breaching refers to a hole or break in the integrity of the levee, while overtopping describes the water level rising above the top of the levee, but not the failure of the levee itself. The distinction between the two is crucial to the crux of this article."

You can read all the related transcripts and watch all the videos in question, but it is clear from them that the president was correct when he said, on September 1, 2005, "I don't think anybody anticipated the breach of the levees." The only pre-Katrina warnings ever discussed warned of "overtopping" not "breaching" the levees.

Here's an excerpt from Mr. Hinderaker's article:

"Is it possible that all of these reporters have somehow missed all of the post-Katrina discussions about the important differences between levee overtopping (widely predicted before Katrina hit, including by CNN), and breaching of the levees, which apparently resulted from design or construction defects? It seems almost inconceivable that all of those involved in misreporting the video can claim ignorance."


Tuesday, February 21, 2006

An Intelligent View on the Muslim Cartoons

The prevailing view among westerners on the controversy surrounding the publishing of cartoons that show images of the Profit Muhammad seems to be 'why are Muslims so offended over some cartoons?' That's not, apparently, how the Muslim community sees it.

Nadia Maiwandi, a staff writer for the North County Times (San Diego), wrote an intelligent and thought-provoking piece about this issue. Nothing justifies the deaths and rioting that the reaction to these cartoons has brought about, but this controversy shows once again that making fun of somone else's deeply held beliefs is disrespectful at best, and most likely deeply offensive.

An excerpt from Ms. Maiwandi's article:

"Since the publication of the cartoons and the subsequent protests, I've heard non-Muslims ask why it's OK to ridicule Christianity and Judaism but not Islam. Simply put, it's not. Mocking monotheism isn't an Eastern value, period, whether it's Islam, Christianity or Judaism on the receiving end. People who ridicule those two religions in the West are far more likely to be adherents of those religions than Muslims."

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Global Warming and the "Hockey Stick" Debate

Will it never end? Lou Hissink shows so very clearly how the global warming argument is based on a false analysis of global temperature data.


Monday, February 13, 2006

A French Leftist Laments the Idea-less American Left

The Nation published recently a translated article by Bernard-Henri Lévy wherein he takes the American Left to task for its lack of ideas. A common criticizm has been that the Left of today simply offer opposition and obstructionism to the Conservatives. Apparently, the French elitists agree.

Here is how it begins:

Nothing made a more lasting impression during my journey through America than the semi-comatose state in which I found the American left.

I know, of course, that the term "left" does not have the same meaning and ramifications here that it does in France.

And I cannot count how many times I was told there has never been an authentic "left" in the United States, in the European sense.

But at the end of the day, my progressive friends, you may coin ideas in whichever way you like. The fact is: You do have a right [right wing]. This right, in large part thanks to its neoconservative battalion, has brought about an ideological transformation that is both substantial and striking.

And the fact is that nothing remotely like it has taken shape on the other side--to the contrary, through the looking glass of the American "left" lies a desert of sorts, a deafening silence, a cosmic ideological void that, for a reader of Whitman or Thoreau, is thoroughly enigmatic. The 60-year-old "young" Democrats who have desperately clung to the old formulas of the Kennedy era; the folks of MoveOn.org who have been so great at enlisting people in the electoral lists, at protesting against the war in Iraq and, finally, at helping to revitalize politics but whom I heard in Berkeley, like Puritans of a new sort, treating the lapses of a libertine President as quasi-equivalent to the neo-McCarthyism of his fiercest political rivals; the anti-Republican strategists confessing they had never set foot in one of those neo-evangelical mega-churches that are the ultimate (and most Machiavellian) laboratories of the "enemy," staring in disbelief when I say I've spent quite some time exploring them; ex-candidate Kerry, whom I met in Washington a few weeks after his defeat, haggard, ghostly, faintly whispering in my ear: "If you hear anything about those 50,000 votes in Ohio, let me know"; the supporters of Senator Hillary Clinton who, when I questioned them on how exactly they planned to wage the battle of ideas, casually replied they had to win the battle of money first, and who, when I persisted in asking what the money was meant for, what projects it would fuel, responded like fundraising automatons gone mad: "to raise more money"; and then, perhaps more than anything else, when it comes to the lifeblood of the left, the writers and artists, the men and women who fashion public opinion, the intellectuals--I found a curious lifelessness, a peculiar streak of timidity or irritability, when confronted with so many seething issues that in principle ought to keep them as firmly mobilized as the Iraq War or the so-called "American Empire" (the denunciation of which is, sadly, all that remains when they have nothing left to say).

Friday, February 10, 2006

Tax Cuts Hurting the Deficit??

It seem that , on "strong receipts". How can anyone still argue that lower taxes mean lower revenue? The tax cuts have proven once again to be revenue enhancing by stimulating financial activity. The US Treasury takes in a smaller piece of a bigger pie.

(From Reuters via The Drudge Report)


Thursday, February 02, 2006

"Obscene Profits" by Major Oil Companies

From the (Subscription required) in October regarding the gigantic profits reported by the oil companies (this from their 3Q results) comes this article discussing the reasons behind these profits, and what the real profit story is about. As Exxon-Mobile reports another record year and quarter—at least in dollars—try to keep in mind their modest profit margins on huge revenue.

An excerpt:

“…in 2004 Exxon Mobil earned more money -- $25.33 billion -- than any other company on the Fortune 500 list of largest corporations. But by another measure of profitability, gross profit margin, it ranked No. 127.”

A $9.9 billion quarterly profit is mostly a function of Exxon Mobil's size. It had sales of $100 billion this quarter, more than any other U.S. company. At its current rate of growth, Exxon Mobil will be the biggest U.S. corporation this year by revenue, bigger than Wal-Mart Stores Inc., which had $288.19 billion in revenue last year. Generally, the bigger the company, the bigger the bottom line.

Even so, many companies smaller than Exxon Mobil "earn" more, depending on what measure is used.

Most financial institutions, such as commercial banks, are routinely more profitable than Exxon Mobil was in its third quarter. For example, Exxon Mobil's gross margin of 9.8 cents of profit for every dollar of revenue pales in comparison to Citigroup Inc.'s 15.7 cents in 2004. By percentage of total revenue, banking is consistently the most profitable industry in America, followed closely by the drug industry.

Altria Group, the maker of Marlboro and other cigarettes, made 22 cents for every dollar of revenue in 2004, and pharmaceutical company Merck made 25.3 cents for every dollar of revenue in 2004.”


Monday, January 23, 2006

Pre-Invasion Iraqi Documents

Steven Hayes at the Weekly Standard writes today of the apparently imminent release of from the Saddam Hussien government to House Intelligence Committee Chairman Pete Hoekstra. These could prove to be important in understanding the relationship—if any—between the Taliban, al-Qaeda, and Iraq, although Mr. Hayes admits that these 39 documents represent a very small sample of the roughly 2 million captured in the weeks following the toppling of the former dictator's government. Writes Mr. Hayes:

It is important to remember that this set of documents is a tiny percentage of the Iraqi documents that have been translated (.078 percent of the 50,000) and a mere sliver of the overall document take of approximately 2 million. Whatever emerges from this group may not be a representative sample of the overall document takes.


Saturday, January 07, 2006

Final Report of David M. Barrett, Independent Council in the Cisneros Affair

Is there a government cover-up going on regarding the release of the 's final report on the Henry Cisneros investigation? According to a recent article, there may be. Here's an excerpt:

"WASHINGTON — Potentially explosive allegations from a 10-year independent counsel investigation may never see the light of day due to an appropriations bill negotiation that has some conservatives crying foul.

The final report of David M. Barrett, an independent counsel appointed in 1995 to investigate potential felonies committed by one-time Clinton administration Housing and Urban Development Secretary Henry Cisneros, is tentatively scheduled for release on Jan. 19, Barrett told FOXNews.com.

However, Barrett and others say, thanks to an amendment to the November judiciary appropriations bill, key elements in the final report, which was completed in August 2004 and has been sitting with a three-judge panel at the U.S. District Court of Appeals in Washington D.C. ever since, may be heavily redacted before its release.

"As it currently stands, the report will not be released in its entirety," said Barrett, who didn't want to speculate why or which portions of the report may not be made public. One decade and some millions of taxpayers' dollars later, he said he is disappointed that the report may not reflect his careful and diligent efforts.

"I believe after 10 years and the expense of $22 million, the public has the right to see the entire report and make their own judgments," he said.

As the contents of the report have been sealed, Barrett is unable to offer details, but sources say the most serious of the allegations concerns, in part, the use of the Internal Revenue Service under the Clinton administration to intimidate political foes. The charges in the report could embarrass former members and associates of the Clinton White House, including former first lady and Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., say the sources.

"Some people have said it contains some serious allegations, and when people see the report, they can decide for themselves," Barrett said."

According to the article, the portions in question deal with persons who "had not been publicly indicted or named." Privacy, especially for those not charged and who never will be charged should be protected, and I, for one, strongly support such concerns. However, there is disagreement on the level of "redaction" of the report, and legislation dealing with the matter is still a concern. The article goes on to state:

"Sens. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa and Dorgan introduced an amendment to the judiciary appropriations bill that would have released all portions of the report, with deletions only for "clearly unwarranted invasion of privacy."

But the language worked out in the subsequent House-Senate conference and in the final bill gave much more discretion to the court to redact individuals' names, which critics contend, ensures that much of Section Five and the most serious charges would be left out of the final report."
I get very nervous whenever the Clinton's are involved in a criminal case, and the potential for political "shenanigans". Until the report is released, hopefully with only minimal redaction, we will never know if there is any fire beneath the smoke.


Tuesday, January 03, 2006

The Best Quote I've Seen in a Long Time

Kate O'Beirne of the National Review Online has a new book out called "Women Who Make the World Worse : and How Their Radical Feminist Assault Is Ruining Our Schools, Families, Military, and Sports".

She was interviewed by Katheryn Jean Lopez, also of NRO about her book. I was stuck by this statement Ms O'Beirne made:

"I have long thought that if high-school boys had invited homely girls to the prom we might have been spared the feminist movement."

What an interesting idea.