Friday Digest

Digest

Feb. 19, 2010

The Foundation

“Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclination, or the dictates of our passions, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.” –John Adams

Government & Politics

See Nothing, Hear Nothing, Report Nothing

Glacier? What glacier?

“Avoid the term ‘global warming,’” advises New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman. “I prefer the term ‘global weirding,’ because that is what actually happens as global temperatures rise and the climate changes.”

Friedman, who proves that anyone can be a climatologist, goes on to explain that with global warming, “The weather gets weird. The hots are expected to get hotter, the wets wetter, the dries drier and the most violent storms more numerous. The fact that it has snowed like crazy in Washington – while it has rained at the Winter Olympics in Canada, while Australia is having a record 13-year drought – is right in line with what every major study on climate change predicts: The weather will get weird; some areas will get more precipitation than ever; others will become drier than ever.”

No matter what happens, blame global warming.

But as Friedman and other dogmatists peddle their propaganda, the case for man-made global warming is collapsing like a weak roof in a Beltway blizzard. In fact, we might call it “man made-up” climate change.

Phil Jones, the former director of the University of East Anglia’s Climatic Research Unit and a central figure in the Climategate scandal, now admits that for the past 15 years, there has been no “statistically significant” warming. Furthermore, he says the warming trend that began in 1975 is not unlike two previous periods since 1850, and the Medieval Warm Period could have been a global phenomenon similar to the latter three. Yet Jones, who said he has had trouble “keeping track” of information supporting the infamous hockey stick graph, is still a believer in man-made global warming and he calls the last 15 years a blip in a long-term trend.

Meanwhile, John Christy, professor of atmospheric science at the University of Alabama in Huntsville and a former lead author on the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), is also questioning the faith. “The temperature records cannot be relied on as indicators of global change,” he said. Christy’s doubts, like those of other researchers, stem from problems with thousands of weather stations used to collect temperature data. Urbanization and changes in land use, equipment relocation and other factors have compromised the data. “The popular data sets show a lot of warming,” he said, “but the apparent temperature rise was actually caused by local factors affecting the weather stations, such as land development.”

These are truly stunning admissions, coming as they do from “the consensus,” and cast grave doubt on what we have long been told is “settled science.” For their part, U.S. media outlets have reported exhaustively on these developments… scratch that. No, they haven’t. As Noel Sheppard of NewsBusters notes, “Despite the seriousness of these revelations, much as what happened when the Climategate scandal first broke, with the exception of Fox News – and a lone report by CNN – America’s media have almost totally boycotted this amazing story.”

Similar revelations regarding data manipulation by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) have surfaced with little or no fanfare.

Many of these same media outlets, however, found plenty of time to cover the “news” that Tiger Woods has broken his silence, or the fact that Hollywood director Kevin Smith was kicked off a plane for being too fat. As of Tuesday, CNN had reported it 14 times. Light on substance and, er, heavy on fragrance.

This Week’s ‘Braying Jenny’ Award

“[I]t is inappropriate to look at any particular short period of time to discern the long-term trend.” –NOAA Administrator Jane Lubchenco, when asked whether she agreed with Phil Jones' assertion that there has been no statistically significant global warming since 1995

File this one under “Keen Sense of the Obvious.” Using short-term observations to make long-term predictions is exactly what the “global warming consensus” crew has been doing for the last 15 years.

Casualties of the Changing Climate

As the case for man-made global warming goes up in smoke, there were more defections from the movement this week. United Nations climate chief Yvo de Boer announced his unexpected resignation, effective July 1. True, he took quite a bit of heat for the abject failure of the Copenhagen summit in December, but he probably just wants to spend more time with his family.

Also, The Wall Street Journal reports, “Oil giants BP PLC and ConocoPhillips and heavy-equipment maker Caterpillar Inc. said Tuesday they won’t renew their membership in the three-year-old U.S. Climate Action Partnership, a broad business-environmental coalition that had been instrumental in building support in Washington for capping emissions of greenhouse gases. The move comes as debate over climate change intensifies and concerns mount about the cost of capping greenhouse-gas emissions.”

Businesses aren’t the only ones running away from cap-n-tax regulations. Arizona announced that it, too, will suspend its participation in the Western Regional Climate Action Initiative, which aims to reduce regional greenhouse gas emissions starting in 2012. The initiative is spearheaded by California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, but Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer says she won’t bind her state with any emission-control plan that would raise costs for businesses and consumers.

As Terence Corcoran of Canada’s National Post notes, “It’s hard to tell right now which part of global warming policy is in the fastest free fall – the economics, the politics or the science.”

Hope ‘n’ Change: Lawyers Still Have Outsized Influence

Battle lines are being drawn for the upcoming health care summit that Barack Obama is orchestrating to save his signature legislative agenda item. The vocal and powerful trial lawyer lobby has made clear that they don’t want tort reform on the table when Obama and the Democrats meet with key Republicans on Feb. 25. The American Association for Justice and other trial lawyer groups practically own the Democrat Party, and their power has been felt twice in recent years when the livelihood of these ambulance chasers has been threatened. They killed medical liability reform under George W. Bush, and they have thus far kept meaningful tort reform out of pending legislation.

Obama has signaled a willingness to discuss malpractice reform, though he remains against caps on lawsuits. His supposedly open-minded view on tort reform is light on details, however, and that makes Republicans skeptical about how much he is willing to give on the issue. DNC Chair Howard Dean spoke an inconvenient truth when he said that Democrats “did not want to take on the trial lawyers.” If Obama’s past performance is any guide, the trial lawyers will be able to keep him right where they want him – their hip pocket.

From the Left: Bayh, Bayh Evan

Sen. Evan Bayh (D-IN) shocked Washington this week by announcing that he would not seek re-election in 2010. His announcement seemed particularly unsettling for Democrats because, of all the high-profile Democrats that have stepped aside in recent weeks, Bayh was probably the one most likely to be re-elected. He was polling ahead of recent Republican entrant and frontrunner, former Sen. Dan Coats, and he has a $13 million war chest.

Lest you think that this was for the good of Hoosiers, two-term Bayh strategically announced his retirement less than 24 hours before the Indiana filing deadline for nominating petitions, thus affording potential Democrat substitutes no time to obtain the thousands of signatures required to be placed on the primary ballot. Now, the state Democrat Party has until June 30 to pick who challenges the Republican in November. Instead of allowing Democrat voters to pick their own candidate on the issues important to them, party leaders in smoke-filled back rooms will sift through potential names and find the one that best measures up to polls, focus groups and the May Republican primary winner.

Bayh, a former secretary of state and governor of Indiana, was also on Obama’s short list for VP. The media has labeled him a moderate, but with an American Conservative Union lifetime rating of 20, it’s hard to see where his political moderation actually came into play. Bayh has no immediate career plans, stating that he may go into business, teach, or do charity work. He did make a point of saying, “I do not love Congress,” a negative sentiment echoed by many congressional retirees this term. They often cite the bitter partisanship that has evolved in Washington for which they really have no one to blame but themselves.

The rapid and continued centralization of power in Washington in recent years has done much to drive the partisanship that now cripples the political process. The more power Congress takes, the harder they fight to keep it, and the less willing they are to compromise or back down. Bayh’s message was lost on his Demo colleagues, though. They were too worried about what will happen to all that money in his war chest.

New & Notable Legislation

“The ink is barely dry on the pay-as-you-go law, and Democrats are seeking to bypass it to enact parts of their job-creation agenda,” reports The Hill. We’re shocked – shocked! Democrats are working to classify unemployment insurance and COBRA health benefits as emergency spending that isn’t subject to the “paygo” rules. Paygo, which Obama signed into law on Feb. 12, requires that some new spending (the exemption list is long) be offset by spending cuts elsewhere or tax increases.

After devising a $787 billion “stimulus” plan that didn’t curb unemployment and – according to a New York Times/CBS poll – didn’t convince the public that it “created or saved” jobs, it goes without saying that Democrats are keen on lowering expectations on the new $154 billion “jobs” bill which passed the House. The Senate has a smaller measure which spends “only” $15 billion.

The House bill promises job creation through such measures as providing aid to the states, extending unemployment benefits, and infrastructure improvements. Yet the original stimulus included many of these same programs and bailouts, leading to the logical question: Why try something again when it didn’t work the first time? Well, that’s why this is called a jobs bill, not a stimulus. Clearly, congressional Democrats hope the jobs this bill saves will be their own in November.

Count on Government Waste

If you thought spending upwards of $2.5 million on advertising during the Super Bowl to promote the upcoming census was a waste of money, that’s just the tip of the iceberg. An audit of last fall’s address canvassing portion of the census, in which workers fixed the GPS coordinates of households in preparation for this spring’s count, found that it cost almost 25 percent more than the original estimate of $356 million. The extra $88 million in expenses found during the audit are an obvious concern since the bulk of the work is yet to be done. Among the excuses given were workers who were paid for the training but quit before the work actually began and others who fudged their mileage reimbursements to pad their paychecks.

The census is mandated by the Constitution to determine proportional representation through an accurate count of the populace, but in more recent times states have pushed hard for the largest possible compliance rate in order to ensure they receive “their share” from the federal trough. Consequently, the census questions become quite a bit more intrusive than “How many people live at this residence?” According to the Census Bureau, the count determines the fate of over $400 billion in federal funding. That’s where the real fraud will begin.

Conservative Leaders Sign ‘Mount Vernon Statement’

Dozens of conservative leaders on Wednesday signed “The Mount Vernon Statement,” a declaration that reaffirms first principles and constitutional Rule of Law, much as The Patriot Post has sought to do for the last 14 years, most recently through our Essential Liberty Project.

Read more and tell us what you think here.

National Security

Warfront With Jihadistan: Second Thoughts on KSM

Of the many judgments that history will make to describe Barack Hussein Obama’s regime, incompetence will be near the top. As prime evidence, look no further than the badly botched handling of the trial of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (KSM), mastermind of the 9/11 attacks.

Attorney General Eric Holder decided soon after BHO was sworn in that KSM and his murderous cohorts did not commit acts of war to be tried before military commissions, but rather ordinary, run-of-the-mill criminal acts that could be prosecuted in a New York City federal court. Quite naturally, this led to a firestorm of criticism aimed at the administration. Obama tried to douse the flames early, essentially saying, “Hey, we’ll give KSM a fair trial, and then we’ll execute him.” Way to poison the jury pool, Mr. President. Way to show the world how “fair” our justice system is.

With that tack not fooling the American people, with a looming Senate vote that could stop civilian trials for terror suspects, and with cost estimates for a NYC trial going through the roof, Obama began fast-tracking his backtracking. When asked about the administration’s options for KSM, neither Holder nor White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs would rule out a military trial, a stunning retreat from Obama’s previous position. Additionally, Obama says he is now planning to insert himself into the debate about where to try KSM, which raises the obvious question: Where has he been all this time?

Add to this debacle the administration’s handling of the Christmas Day undi-bomber, and the release this week of two new documents that lay out Obama’s defense and homeland security strategy for the next four years – documents that assiduously avoid using the words Islam, Islamic, or Islamist – and the picture that emerges is one of a grossly and recklessly incompetent administration. If the subject weren’t national survival, this might be a fine comedy. But no one is laughing.

In related news, Fox News reports, “The U.S. Army is investigating allegations that soldiers were attempting to poison the food supply at Fort Jackson in South Carolina.” It appears that the Fort Jackson Five are part of the “09 Lima” Arabic translation program and are Muslim.

Left Blames Tea Parties for Austin Plane Crash

On Thursday, a deranged man supposedly angry at the IRS flew a plane into one of their offices in Austin, Texas. Joseph Andrew Stack, the pilot, was killed in the crash, and several people were injured. Stack also apparently set his house on fire before leaving on his mission; his wife and daughter escaped. The attack is being considered criminal, not terrorist.

Update: One IRS worker was killed – 67-year-old Vernon Hunter.

Columnist Michelle Malkin writes, “Investigators found a Web posting, identified as Stack’s ‘suicide manifesto,’ in which he railed against tax laws, inequity, government and crony capitalism. He also targeted ‘puppet’ George W. Bush, murderous health care insurers and the pharmaceutical industry.” His angry tirade concluded, “The communist creed: From each according to his ability, to each according to his need. The capitalist creed: From each according to his gullibility, to each according to his greed.” Not exactly the words of a supporter of capitalism.

Clearly, Stack was trying to get back at what he called “Big Brother IRS man,” but his politics are rather muddy. That didn’t stop Leftists from blaming the Tea Party movement. We saw it coming.

Time magazine, The Washington Post, New York Magazine and talkingheads at the cable networks immediately jumped on the anti-IRS theme, while ignoring Stack’s slam of capitalism. Jonathan Capehart of The Washington Post’s Post Partisan blog, wrote, “[A]fter reading his 34-paragraph screed, I am struck by how his alienation is similar to that we’re hearing from the extreme elements of the Tea Party movement.” New York Magazine said that “a lot of his rhetoric could have been taken directly from a handwritten sign at a tea party rally.”

One blogger at the popular Daily Kos Web site railed, “After months of threats on the United States government, and government institutions, the Anti-Government forces known as the teabaggers have struck with their first 911 [sic] inspired terrorist attack.” Numerous comments on the Huffington Post blog likewise threw blame in the wrong direction.

Tea Partiers do not support communism, and they do support the Rule of Law. Stack’s words and actions are the antithesis of the Tea Party movement’s goals. The Left, however, never lets facts get in the way of a good story.

Business & Economy

Income Redistribution: The Deficit Commission

While Democrats on the Hill are working to circumvent paygo to increase the federal deficit on “emergency items,” Barack Obama signed an executive order Thursday creating a bipartisan fiscal commission tasked with addressing the nation’s $12.3 trillion debt. “It keeps me awake at night, looking at all that red ink,” the president said, just before again lamenting that he “inherited” the mess. The poor dear.

To head the commission, Obama chose Alan Simpson, a former RINO Senate whip, and Erskine Bowles, Bill Clinton’s former chief of staff. The commission will have 18 members, six chosen by the president, six by congressional Democrats and six by congressional Republicans. GOP leaders haven’t yet decided whether to participate.

This year’s deficit is projected to hit $1.6 trillion, or almost 11 percent of GDP. The administration forecasts the deficit to remain above $1 trillion for three consecutive years. The commission’s mandate is to make recommendations by December for reducing that deficit to 3 percent of GDP. Given that Obama also called Thursday for another $50 to $100 billion stimulus plan, however, this commission is laughable.

Also amusing is its “bipartisan” nature. CNBC’s Larry Kudlow said, “Simpson’s to the left of Erskine Bowles,” adding, “It’s an excuse to raise taxes – when we need to be cutting tax rates.” The Wall Street Journal’s Stephen Moore agreed, writing, “Don’t expect any tax cuts from the Obama deficit reduction panel. This is looking with each passing day like a political ploy to make a tax increase seem imperative and unavoidable. If that’s what Mr. Obama wants, that’s what he’s likely to get with Alan Simpson helping to run the show.”

As the supply of U.S. debt begins to outstrip demand for it, the federal budget is absolutely a major concern. The trouble is, Obama’s policies are taking us in the wrong direction.

The BIG Lie

“Our work is far from over but we have rescued this economy from the worst of this crisis.” –Barack Obama

Read more on the administration’s celebration of the stimulus anniversary here.

Obama Extends Loan for Nuclear Plant

A 50 percent loan default rate would be enough to make most lenders say, “thanks but no thanks” – but not the federal government. Despite Congressional Budget Office and Government Accountability Office reports estimating that the risk of default for new nuclear reactors could climb to 50 percent, President Obama announced an $8.33 billion federal loan guarantee to construct two nuclear reactors in Georgia. And in case this isn’t enough, the president’s 2011 budget would bring to $54.5 billion the government subsidies for nuclear energy projects – projects which the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has basically regulated out of the financial reach of private enterprise.

Politico gave the move the ironic title of “nuclear olive branch” to the GOP, but as the Heritage Foundation noted, “President Obama’s nuclear loan guarantee announcement is really nothing more than a transparently cynical attempt to revive his moribund cap-and-trade/energy tax proposals currently languishing in the Senate.” The White House has made clear that it expects Republican cooperation on other administration priorities in return.

While we support energy independence, no single approach is a panacea. Yet in its quest for political points, Obama has found yet one more thing at which to fling taxpayer finances.

Culture & Policy

Faith and Family: Eight of ‘Baptist 10’ Released

On Wednesday, a Haitian judge ordered the release of eight of the 10 Baptist missionaries who had been arrested there in January on charges of child trafficking. The eight landed in Miami Thursday. Last week, we noted the missionaries' claim that they were taking 33 Haitian orphans to the Dominican Republic for proper care after the earthquake that devastated the Caribbean nation on Jan. 12. But it appears we gave the group’s leaders too much benefit of the doubt.

Laura Silsby, the group leader, and her former nanny, Charisa Coulter, remain in a Haitian jail. The two had been to Haiti previously, and knew what they were doing was illegal. In fact, many of the children were not orphans at all, but had parents still in Haiti, though the parents testified that they had voluntarily given their children to the group. The group’s attorney blamed Silsby, saying the rest were simply “naïve.” We criticized the injustice of the Haitian government as being harmful to those suffering hardship, and though this is often true, sometimes the helpers are the ones hurting the cause.

Village Academic Curriculum: Bible Placement is a ‘Hate Crime’

An eighth grade teacher in North Carolina has been suspended while investigators review recent events surrounding her, her class, a Bible and Facebook. Melissa Hussain is Muslim, and when her students left a Bible on her desk, she posted pointed criticisms on Facebook, including one calling the incident a “hate crime.” She posted, “I can’t believe the cruelty and ignorance of people sometimes,” vowed that she wouldn’t let the matter “go unpunished,” and bragged that she “was able to shame her kids.”

It’s possible that the students were taunting the teacher – they had previously put a picture of Jesus on her desk, wore T-shirts with his picture on the front and sang “Jesus Loves Me” in her classroom. It’s no secret that junior high kids can behave immaturely, but Hussain shouldn’t stoop to their level. Hussain lives in a free country, but if this had occurred in a Muslim nation, the Christian students would certainly not “go unpunished.”

From the ‘Non Compos Mentis’ File

The National Museum of African American History and Culture at the Smithsonian will soon have a new exhibit. Henry Louis Gates, the Harvard professor who was arrested last summer by Cambridge police, is donating the handcuffs from that infamous incident to the museum. Perhaps the most appropriate name for this monument would be “Acting Stupidly,” to borrow a phrase from Barack Obama’s ill-advised remarks after the arrest. No word on whether an empty bottle from the ensuing beer summit will be added to the display.

Left-Wing Prof Shoots 6 in Alabama

Naturally, when a left-winger goes on a shooting rampage, it doesn’t fit the template. But there’s more to the story of an Alabama professor who killed three colleagues. Read about it here.

To Keep and Bear Arms

According to Fulton County police, a man in Atlanta, Georgia, called in two electricians to an empty home with the intention of robbing them. When the first electrician entered the home, he was immediately robbed and then shot in the leg. Shortly after, the second electrician, unaware that the first electrician was in a predicament, was also shot in the leg. However, he pulled out his own gun and shot the perpetrator in the head. The perp was taken to a hospital where he is in critical condition. Police believe that a second suspect may have been involved and may also have a gunshot wound.

May Youmans, a witness to the scene, praised the second electrician, saying, “I’m just glad that the electrician had a weapon. He retaliated against [the robber] so they wouldn’t think about doing it again to no one else.”

In other Second Amendment news, Monday, Feb. 22, will mark the end of the 94-year-old ban on carrying loaded firearms in national parks and wildlife refuges. Congress passed a law last May lifting the ban by revoking the National Park Service’s ability to set its own gun policy. State law now governs each park. Somehow it’s fitting that this recognition of gun (and state) rights will occur on George Washington’s birthday. We think the man who led an army of citizen soldiers in the fight for our independence would approve.

And Last…

First, let us say that we support conservation, a word that shares the same root as “conservative.” But the latest recommendations from the Catholic Coalition on Climate Change leave us wondering when Al Gore joined the Church. During Lent, which began Wednesday and lasts for 40 days, Catholics traditionally give up something in observance. According to the latest Public Policy Insights newsletter, “the Archdiocese of Washington’s Environmental Outreach Committee has created a particularly useful new tool: a calendar that lists 40 carbon-fasting measures individuals can take to reduce their carbon footprint.” In other words, the faithful are being asked to give up carbon for Lent.

Now, you too can “Show reverence for life and for the Earth” by doing various “green” things, all for the annual Catholic Climate Covenant. For example, you might give up “one light bulb from your home,” or “Turn down your thermostat by at least one degree.” And don’t forget to “Check the tire pressure of your car” or to “Learn about mountaintop removal mining.”

Jesus said, “Let your light shine before others.” This calendar, however, is apparently referring to 3 Gore-inthians: “Don’t let your light shine – turn it off to save energy.”