Friday, May 29, 2009

Some interesting numbers on wind power




This article in the Canadian press has some interesting information on the real economic and environmental impact of wind energy. For example,

"Flemming Nissen, the head of development at West Danish generating company ELSAM (one of Denmark’s largest energy utilities) tells us that 'wind turbines do not reduce carbon dioxide emissions.' The German experience is no different. Der Spiegel reports that 'Germany’s CO2 emissions haven’t been reduced by even a single gram,' and additional coal- and gas-fired plants have been constructed to ensure reliable delivery.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Sunspot activity continues to decline




For those who haven't kept up, sunspot activity is much more closely correlated to global temperature than CO2. This article point out that 2008 had the lowest sunspot activity in a century, and that so far 2009's count is even lower.

The total for this 11 year solar cycle is now the 4th lowest since the 1600's. The previous low cycles were associated with periods of extreme cold. Not surprisingly, global temperatures are dropping.

No wonder California's going broke

This is a list of salaries of some top bureaucrats in California. Remember when people supposedly accepted lower pay to be a "public servant"? And this doesn't count their benefits. Government pensions are so generous, these salaries, high as they are, are only the tip of the iceberg.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Mark Steyn on "stimulation"

This is a great funny/serious column from the master about the local "stimulus" bureaucracy in rural Vermont.

Remember when Supreme Court justices were supposed to be the best legal minds?

Obama pick Sonia Sotomayer has published some strange opinions in her career, among them,

"then-district Judge Sotomayor ruled that a prospective lawyer must be given special consideration in taking the New York state bar exam because her dyslexia qualified as a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act, despite the fact that she had failed the exam five times.

As a district court judge, Sotomayor also allowed a racial discrimination claim to continue when the plaintiff, a black nurse, sued Bellevue Hospital Corp because other nurses spoke mainly in Filipino, their native tongue, which she claimed made her feel harassed and isolated.

In 1994, Judge Sotomayor ruled in favor of two prisoners who claimed to practice Santeria, a Caribbean religion that involves animal sacrifice and voodoo, saying that “distinctions between ‘traditional’ and ‘non-traditional’ religions” are “intolerable.”"

We'll have to pray that the conservative justices on the court stay healthy.

Supreme Court nominee Sotomayer, self described racist and sexist.

One would expect Barack Obama to emphasize race and sex over ability when picking a Supreme Court justice, but one would not necessarily expect him to pick an overt racist and sexist such as Sonia Sotomayer. In her own words, quoted by the New York Times, “I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn’t lived that life.”

Can one imagine the outcry from liberals if a white male Supreme Court nominee had reversed that comment? Does anyone imagine that liberals will object to her comments?

So liberals think it's perfectly OK to make racist and sexist comments as long as they're aimed at white males. The two terms are simply rhetorical weapons used by the left to intimidate conservatives, and have lost whatever substance they once had.

One would hope that the weak kneed Republican members of the Senate will bring these comments up during her confirmation hearings, and point out that she is a racist and sexist. I wouldn't hold my breath, though.

Monday, May 25, 2009

The great F.A. Hayek on freedom vs socialism

Many people believe freedom and socialism are somehow compatible. One of the first great expositions of the fact that socialism inevitably leads to loss of freedom was the book The Road to Serfdom by the Nobel Prize winning economist F. A. Hayek. It's one of those classic books everyone should have read somewhere along the way, and it's not too late to read it now.

This article points out,

"Hayek's central thesis in his sentinel work, The Road to Serfdom, is that through the inevitable mismanagement of resources and goods at the disposal of the state, all forms of collectivism lead eventually to tyranny. Hayek used the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany as examples of countries that had progressed through the phases of collectivist governments and reached the point of tyranny.

Hayek argued that disagreement regarding the practical implementation of any economic plan combined with the inadequacy of the planners' resource management would necessitate coercion in order for anything to be achieved. According to Hayek, the failure of central planning would be perceived by some in the public as an absence of sufficient power by the state to implement an otherwise good idea. This would lead the public to vote more power to the state, assisting in the rise of a "strong man" perceived to be capable of getting the job done.

Following these developments, a country will be driven into outright totalitarianism. For Hayek, this journey, inadvertently set upon by central planning, ends in the destruction of all individual economic and personal freedoms."

Sounds like the path we're on. It will be interesting to see how far down that path we go. As Hayek said, "
What has always made the state a hell on earth has been precisely that man has tried to make it his heaven."

The environmental movement, DDT, and mass murder

This article is just the latest in the long list of articles pointing out that the banning of DDT by the environmental movement has killed more people than Hitler, and probably more than Stalin or Mao as well. Yet the green movement has never been called to account by the absolutely clueless MSM or the equally clueless Republican party for its conspiracy to commit mass murder on the largest scale.

DDT has always been, and continues to this day to be the single most effective malaria preventer ever invented. The WSJ article above estimates that banning DDT has caused 50 million deaths and continues to cause a million a year, mostly children.

There should be a class action law firm out there to take on the biggest such suit in history demanding trillions of dollars in damages from the whole range of environmental groups for their complicity in these murders - for withholding a life saving chemical from dying people is murder, pure and simple.

As usual, the greens base their anti-DDT campaign on absolute junk science. An irony is that even birds, one of the main supposed beneficiaries of the DDT ban, are killed in the millions by mosquito born viruses like West Nile.

It's perhaps not surprising the the MSM, so deep in the green's pocket that they can't see out, aren't shouting about this travesty. It's pathetic that Republican politicians are either so clueless or so intimidated by the environmental movement that they won't speak up about the worst mass murder in history occuring right under their noses.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

An example of Obama's plan to save oil

It's basic physics that the more metal in front of you, the more protection you have in the event of a crash, and visa versa. Thanks to Obama, tens of thousands of Americans are going to experience this horrific end. But on the bright side, Obama has such a winning smile.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

An all too rare transformation

It has been said that those who aren't liberal when young have no heart, but those who aren't conservative when old have no brain. I disagree about the first part, but there is a common phenomenon of young liberals gradually awakening from their hallucinations and turning into thoughtful conservatives.

One such person who has written an interesting piece about her transformation is "Robin of Berkeley."

It's a heartening read even though we know it happens far too infrequently, and there are still far too many apparently incorrigible zombies out there.

The next couple of years will be the last time you can choose your own new car

The new fuel mileage standards the Obama administration has imposed on America will effectively take away your choice of which kind of car you'll be able to buy. Obama has ordered that you will now have one choice - small, and expensive.

The 39 mile per gallon standard for cars scheduled to take effect in just 7 years can now be met by just a handful of the smallest cars sold in America. Light trucks and SUV's will also have to average 30 mpg by these regulations, so truck buyers can also look forward to small, underpowered vehicles.

While large SUV's may still exist, they will have to be made extremely expensive to keep many Americans from buying them, or the automakers won't be able to meet their fuel economy mandates. So only Obama, Gore, and their friends will be able to afford them.

So if you want a decent car, you should buy your last one before they become unavailable.

The loss of freedom of choice, that is, freedom itself, due to these regulations is staggering. The so called free market is now the government controlled market for automobiles, which after housing is the single most important purchase most people make.

These regulations have a host of apparently unintended consequences. The first is a reduction in safety. Insurance statistics show that small cars have 2 1/2 times the fatality rate of large SUV's. Thousands of people are going to die as a result of these regulations. The number of people estimated to have been killed as a result of the 1970's CAFE mileage standards is over 60,000 people. That's in addition to the hundreds of thousands of additional serious injuries.

The shift to all small cars will also put the final nails in the coffin of the American auto industry. American producers have lost money on small cars for the past 40 years. They've managed to survive by making money on the large cars that will now be banned. Now they're being required to make billions of dollars of investment using money they don't have to produce cars that they will lose money selling.

There is no way they can be viable economic entities without outsourcing virtually all car production overseas. Even then, they won't be able to afford the investments required. So it appears the American auto industry may become the next Amtrac, a massively government subsidized business which will lose billions every year producing cars people don't want.

Ford, the last American producer not under government control, will eventually be forced into bankruptcy or it won't be able to compete with its massively subsidized rivals.

It will be interesting to watch the agonies of American politicians debating whether to subsidize companies which are shifting production overseas, or funding the huge losses they would incur by continuing to build small cars here.

Decisions about which specific cars to build, and where to build them, will no longer be based on economic considerations, but rather political decisions about which powerful members of Congress would benefit from the choices they, and not auto industry executives, will make.

Automobile manufacturing has been the single largest American manufacturing industry for close to a hundred years. The new mileage standards will substantially reduce the size of that industry in America. Any savings on oil imports will be offset by increased auto imports.

So buy your next new car while you can still buy a car you want. After that, the only choice you'll have is an Obamobile.

Some Chrysler creditors are fighting back

Until now it looked as if the Obama administration would have an easy time confiscating assets of Chrysler senior creditors to give to its union allies. Administration threats against these creditors were enough to cause some of them to agree to abandon their rights.

However, the managers of these investment groups have a fiduciary responsibility to their investors to protect their assets, and there has been talk that these investment managers may be subject to investor lawsuits for failing to defend their rights.

Whatever the reason, several Indiana pension funds have filed suit to block the proposed restructuring, and it appears other previously intimidated creditors may join them.

Obama's planned expropriation of Chrysler may not have such an easy time of it after all.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

The coming ice age

As anyone familiar with climate history knows, the earth has been locked in ice ages for 90% of the past 2 million years, with huge temperature swings and mile high glaciers over what are now northern American cities like Seattle. Every hundred thousand years, there is a roughly ten thousand year warm period, which we are at the far end of now.

This article summarizes this history, and is a good reminder of how really ignorant the global warmers are. Human CO2 production, though it is a small percentage of natural CO2 emissions, may be the only thing we can do to delay the onset of the inevitable plunge in temperature that awaits us.

The sun is in a very unusual quiet period which has been linked to past temperature declines, and temps have been falling for the past several years. While this decline is unlikely to be "the big one," it is coming, and humanity will have to use all its technological capacity to avoid the catastrophic impact it is likely to have on food production and everything else modern civilization provides.

Spending trillions to reduce CO2 emissions is a huge step in the wrong direction.

A great critique of natural selection

One of the nice things about not working is the ability to read books you just didn't have the energy to open when you collapsed exhausted at the end of every 12 hour work day.

As the battle between the evolutionists and intelligent designers rages on, I recently finished the best critique of Darwin's theory of macro-evolution I've run across. Michael Denton is a molecular biologist who has written 2 really outstanding books, "Nature's Destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe" and "Evolution: A Theory In Crisis".

I read his second one, "Nature's Destiny", first, and was so impressed that I went back to read his first, written over 20 years ago. "Evolution" is a head-on scientific assault against natural selection as the method which created the first cell and the major biological divisions. Denton agrees that natural selection by random mutation can explain micro-evolution, but he marshals the evidence against macro-evolution in way that I find very convincing.

There's way too much in the books to summarize in a short post, but I don't think many fair minded readers would agree with Darwin after reading these two books. They're absolutely credible, and devastating.

The left mocks the left

Normally Jon Stewart is about as enjoyable to watch as a snake slithering along. However, this video clip shows that Nancy Pelosi has finally sunk to whatever bottom it takes for a fellow far leftist to ridicule her pathetic lying about enhanced interrogation techniques. When leftists mock leftists, it's worth a chuckle.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Obama laughs at a joke wishing death for Rush Limbaugh

The has always been an ugliness to "humor" on the left, and this isn't the first, second, or third time leftists have joked about wishing death to conservatives. But this may be the first time a sitting president has publicly laughed at such a "joke".

Obama laughed as so called comedienne Wanda Sykes said she hoped Rush Limbaugh's kidneys would fail at the White House correspondents' dinner. He also chortled at her description of Rush as a traitor who wanted to be a 9/11 hijacker.

"An editor with Britain's Daily Telegraph who was at the dinner wrote that liberals will give Sykes a pass, since her target was a right-wing talk show host. And he marveled at Obama's response.

'That's way, way beyond reasoned debate or comedy and Obama's reaction to it was astonishing," wrote Toby Harnden. "Imagine if a comedian 'joked' that Obama was a terrorist who was guilty of treason and should be tortured and allowed to die. There would justifiably be an outcry.'"

This, apparently, is the kind of classy, hip, cool president that liberals can love.

Obama is now the Hugo Chavez of America

Last week Venezuelan de facto dictator Hugo Chavez took another step toward socialism by confiscating more assets of western oil companies at a time when Venezuelan oil production is plummeting due to the incompetence of the state oil monopoly. This will undoubtedly lead to further declines in production as the Venezuelan economy continues to implode.

Meanwhile in the U.S., in an unprecedented action, the Obama administration completed the forcible bankruptcy restructuring of Chrysler by effectively confiscating assets of the senior bondholders in order to turn them over to its political ally, the UAW, which is the organization most responsible for the destruction of Chrysler in the first place.

The actions of the two men are not significantly different. In the past, Americans could look at these sorts of confiscations in third world countries confident that nothing like that could happen here - but now it has. The rule of law, in this case bankruptcy law, has been suspended in the Chrysler case. When bondholders tried to resist, they were threatened with extra-legal action by the White House, which then lied about its threats.

As Michael Barone called it in his recent column, this is an example of "gangster government." Now General Motors will be the next company on the chopping block. It will be interesting to see what the fate of its senior creditors is compared to the benefits offered by Obama to its union.

On another front, the Obama administration bullied the state of California into reversing its decision to reduce the wages of some union workers as part of its desperate effort to reduce its massive budget deficit by threatening to withhold billions in federal dollars from the state.

“(California) officials say they are particularly troubled that the Service Employees International Union, which lobbied the federal government to step in, was included in a conference call in which state and federal officials reviewed the wage cut and the terms of the stimulus package.

California Secretary of Health and Human Services Kim Belshe said she could not recall another instance in which the federal government invited a significant stakeholder group into such government-to-government negotiations.”

It’s looks as if Obama is planning to operate far closer to the style of Hugo Chavez than previously thought. Private property and the rule of law are beginning to look like relics of the past after the socialist “change” Obama has in mind.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Michael Barone on Obama's attempt to rob Chrysler bondholders

As you probably know, Michael Barone is one of the nation's premier analysts of polls and voting trends. In this trenchant article, he points out that the Obama administration is attempting to rob Chrysler bondholders to pay off Obama's union political allies. This is the sort of lawlessness we would expect from a third world Hugo Chavez type. As Barone puts it:

"Think carefully about what’s happening here. The White House, presumably car czar Steven Rattner and deputy Ron Bloom, is seeking to transfer the property of one group of people to another group that is politically favored. In the process, it is setting aside basic property rights in favor of rewarding the United Auto Workers for the support the union has given the Democratic Party."

and

"The Chrysler negotiations will not be the last occasion for this administration to engage in bailout favoritism and crony capitalism. There’s a May 31 deadline to come up with a settlement for General Motors. And there will be others. In the meantime, who is going to buy bonds from unionized companies if the government is going to take their money away and give it to the union? We have just seen an episode of Gangster Government. It is likely to be part of a continuing series."

Mark Steyn on Jews - and us

In this long, well written article, the indefatigable Mark Steyn describes the increasing isolation of Israel, and its implications for the non-Muslims of the west.

"In Britain in January, while “pro-Palestinian” demonstrators were permitted to dress up as hook-nosed Jews drinking the blood of Arab babies, the police ordered counter-protesters to put away their Israeli flags. In Alberta, in the heart of Calgary’s Jewish neighborhood, the flag of Hezbollah (supposedly a proscribed terrorist organization) was proudly waved by demonstrators, but one solitary Israeli flag was deemed a threat to the Queen’s peace and officers told the brave fellow holding it to put it away or be arrested for “inciting public disorder.” In Germany, a student in Duisburg put the Star of David in the window of an upstairs apartment on the day of a march by the Islamist group Milli Görüs, only to have the cops smash his door down and remove the flag. He’s now trying to get the police to pay for a new door. Ah, those Jews. It’s always about money, isn’t it?"

and

"The joke about Mandatory Palestine was that it was the twice-promised land. But isn’t that Europe, too? And perhaps Russia and maybe Canada, a little ways down the line? Two cultures jostling within the same piece of real estate. Not long ago, I found myself watching the video of another “pro-Palestinian” protest in central London with the Metropolitan Police retreating up St. James’s Street to Piccadilly in the face of a mob hurling traffic cones and jeering, “Run, run, you cowards!” and “Allahu akbar!” You would think the deluded multi-culti progressives would understand: In the end, this isn’t about Gaza, this isn’t about the Middle East; it’s about them. It may be some consolation to an ever-lonelier Israel that, in one of history’s bleaker jests, in the coming Europe the Europeans will be the new Jews."

After gay marriage - anything goes

One of the strongest arguments against the legalization of gay marriage is that once the traditional definition of marriage has been abandoned, the same claims made for gay marriage can and will be made for any combination of individuals, human or otherwise. "Marriage" will then cease to have any practical meaning except as a way to direct benefits to the "married" group. This process is already going on in Canada and Europe, where polygamous marriage, particularly among Muslims, is already de facto accepted for the purposes of welfare and other benefits.

One new variation which had not previously come to my attention is the "triad", which differs from tradition polygamy in that each of the three individuals is sexually active with both of the other two. Of course, there is no reason to limit such an arrangement to three, but this article describes one such group which is, of course, determined to obtain its rights to "all those survivor and visitation rights and tax breaks and everything like that.”

Advocates for gay rights usually assert that theirs is a special case, and that extension of marriage to gay couples won't lead to an effectively unlimited definition of marriage, but the same courts that buy the discrimination argument in favor of gay marriage will not likely want to discriminate against triads, or any other "oppressed" group.

Extending the example of the polar bear, which is being used as a lever to control CO2 emissions, one could imagine the extension of marriage to groups including people and animals being used to give animals all the legal rights of human beings, a goal of some in the animal rights movement. Get ready for vegetarianism - until someone marries a tomato.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Lots more conventional energy found in Louisiana

While the left continues to insist we're running out of conventional energy supplies, and tries as hard as possible to make its prediction a reality by forbidding exploration and production of oil and coal, a huge new energy find in Louisiana adds to the reality that America has plenty of energy resources if we're allowed to produce them.

"Even conservative estimates suggest the Louisiana discovery -- known as the Haynesville Shale, for the dense rock formation that contains the gas -- could hold some 200 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. That's the equivalent of 33 billion barrels of oil, or 18 years' worth of current U.S. oil production. Some industry executives think the field could be several times that size."

"Huge new fields also have been found in Texas, Arkansas and Pennsylvania. One industry-backed study estimates the U.S. has more than 2,200 trillion cubic feet of gas waiting to be pumped, enough to satisfy nearly 100 years of current U.S. natural-gas demand."

Consider that the areas where the new fields have been found are some of the most picked over regions of the US in terms of exploration. If fields of this size can be found there, imagine what might be found offshore in the vast areas that have never been explored thanks to government prohibition.

Instead, we're being forced to produce extremely high cost "renewable" energy, which will cause industry to flee abroad, along with the jobs that Americans once held.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

George Will on California

George Will was among the first "conservative" columnists I recall reaching national prominence. In recent years, his brand of conservatism has seemed increasingly moderate as more conservative voices emerged, and, for me, he's no longer required reading. But once in a while he shows he is still capable of incisive analysis, and this column on California is one of those examples.

The state has joined New York as one of those liberal laboratory experiments run amok, with sky high taxes, a terrible business climate, and the inevitable out migration as people flee the economic consequences of liberal insanity.

As George points out,

"If, since 1990, state spending increases had been held to the inflation rate plus population growth, the state would have a $15 billion surplus instead of a $42 billion budget deficit, which is larger than the budgets of all but 10 states. Since 1990, the number of state employees has increased by more than a third. In Schwarzenegger's less than six years as governor, per capita government spending, adjusted for inflation, has increased nearly 20 percent."

As a result, "For four consecutive years, more Americans have moved out of California than have moved in. California's business costs are more than 20 percent higher than the average state's. In the last decade, net out-migration of Americans has been 1.4 million."

This is the sort of economic future Obama will do his best to impose on the rest of us.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Obama's fantasies about "torture"

President Obama's position on coercive interrogation, or as he likes to misname it, "torture", appears to be based almost entirely on false information. He said during his press conference that we could have obtained key information from top terrorists in other ways, whereas the very memos his administration released admitted that the CIA had been unable to obtain intelligence from these thugs without using enhanced techniques.

He also said that Winston Churchill had refused to use coercive techniques against German prisoners during World War II. Unfortunately, there is this article in the left wing British paper The Guardian from 2005 describing the use of even more severe interrogations which didn't end until 1948.

For someone who his supporters like to describe as a pragmatist, this shows a very disturbing pattern of behavior. If his belief system conflicts with reality, he appears to be quite comfortable making up pseudo facts out of thin air, and using these fantasies to "justify" his position in the face of obvious evidence to the contrary.

If this is his supporters' definition of pragmatism, one wonders what their definition of delusion is.