Thursday, July 31, 2008

- NJ and Predators: Perfect Together

I can always tell when my wife has been reading the online forums from the Asbury Park Press, and this morning was clearly one of those times. I was sitting in my office drinking my Decaf and reading the news when I heard her shout “OH MY GOD, WHERE DO THEY FIND THESE IDIOTS?!!” (Imagine a cute little brunette making Hungarian hand gestures at her laptop.) After she had calmed down a bit, it seemed a fitting moment to discuss a fundamental truth of the new media: Never in your life have you seen a larger collection of ignorance, misinformation and outright stupidity (that is so common to liberals) than in the “comments” sections of New Jersey’s online Newspapers.

The story that got her going this time was a sighting of another Coyote in suburban Ocean County. The Asbury Park Press is a less liberal newspaper than many in New Jersey so the story itself just relayed the facts and didn't include any nonsense about how George Bush and the war in Iraq were responsible for New Jersey's wildlife issues. But in the comments section after the article, my wife found the bit that set her off. Some idiot had made the transparently stupid claim that we're seeing more of these Coyotes and Bears because their natural habitat is being destroyed by the “greed” of suburban development.

This is not just a comical anti-capitalist rant, but is also a complete misrepresentation of the facts. The real reason we’re seeing more Coyotes and Bears in New Jersey is that there is more for them to eat than there has been at any time in the past 40 years. And the reason there is more for them to eat, is because of the expansion of their habitat not the contraction of it. It’s all really been caused by the single most successful conservation program in American history. And that starts more or less in the 1970’s with Ben Franklin’s favorite bird, the Turkey.

By the 1930’s, the wild Turkey population in the US had reached its low point where they were all but eliminated in North America. For 30 years afterward the government made a top down effort to reestablish them, but some “expert” somewhere had gotten the idea that they should simply release domestic birds into the wild. But since those birds lacked the same natural resistance to predators and disease, they didn’t do particularly well. According to the Department of Environmental Protection there wasn’t so much as a single wild Turkey living in the state of New Jersey as late as 1969. Official estimates for 1969 actually show the total wild Turkey population in New Jersey at zero.

But in 1977 the National Wild Turkey Federation, using money from its members (all hunters) as well as public conservation money from a special tax on the purchase of hunting licenses, firearms and ammunition, began a conservation program using Wild Turkeys rather than domestic birds. These birds were better able to survive and the population has since exploded. Last year the department estimates that there were roughly 23,000 birds living statewide, and viable nesting populations in every county in the state. It’s those turkeys that are serving as a food source for the resurgence of coyotes.

But it isn’t just that some dimwit socialist got another story dead wrong. That’s not enough to upset my wife. After all liberals have been on the wrong side of virtually every major issue in the last 100 years so it should surprise no one, least of all my wife, that they got one more topic wrong. But what bothered my wife was not that someone was ignorant of the facts, but that they were so absolutely certain they were right. Ignorance bothers no one, but the combination of ignorance and arrogance can make anyone furious, and it’s that combination that so annoyed my Mrs.

The liberal in the comments section was simply parroting the anti-capitalist mantra of the environmental movement without even a passing thought. They had a pre-conceived notion that man is destroying nature and that bourgeois suburbanites are somehow working against Coyotes and other wildlife. They had no idea that suburban lawns and gardens typically carry more calories per acre that forestland in New Jersey and can therefore support MORE wildlife not less. They also had no idea that thanks to careful land management by logging companies we actually have more forestland in the northeast US than we’ve ever had before, or that there are more deer in the US than there were before Columbus landed. These are facts that can be verified by any adolescent interested in them, but time and time again they've shown us that liberals aren’t interested in facts… they’re only interested in their own feelings.

Hunters on the other hand, are forced to deal with the realities of nature all the time. They’re interested in conservation not environmentalism. And there is a big difference between believing that you should be a responsible custodian of your natural environment, and believing that animals “have rights” or that squirrels should get the vote. Hunters have dealt with the realities of nature and brought the wild Turkey back from virtual extinction. And with that resurgence has come some of the predators that typically prey on them. To hunters this is simply a fact of life that will need to be dealt with. But the only thing that liberals can contribute to the discussion is some laughable complaints that Coyotes are having their environment damaged by “greed”.

The fact is, Coyotes have a long history of doing well in suburban environments so long as they can find enough to eat. If they can't, then they can be dangerous to children and attacks are not uncommon. They’re opportunists, and might take a shot at stealing an unattended baby from a crib as they often do in other parts of the country. My mom loves to repeat the story of her neighbor in Arizona who caught a coyote trying to tear her 6 month old daughter from her car seat while she was unloading the groceries. It happens a lot and we need to be aware of the danger. But in general terms they’re adaptable, clever, and know how to stay away from adult humans.

It’s a mistake to believe that the newly increased coyote population poses no risk to humans, but the answer isn’t to wipe them out. Like most animals they’ll tend to keep to themselves and avoid people unless we let the populations swell like we’re currently doing with Black Bears. Humans are the kind of trouble that Coyotes don’t need so they’ll happily avoid them so long as they can get enough to eat elsewhere. And that’s the trick to the safe management of our newly reestablished predator population in New Jersey… we need to keep the total numbers small and their density light, and the best way to do that is with a carefully managed hunting season.

Of course, all these aspects of Coyote behavior only refer to a healthy Coyote. If the Coyote is diseased then all bets are off. Rabid animals are not going to behave the way a healthy animal would and Coyotes are frequent carriers of rabies, so any animal which demonstrates a lack of fear of humans should be dealt with immediately. As for me and my wife, we live in a fairly rural area. And I’ve given her careful instructions on how to deal with any predator that doesn’t seem to have the sense to keep its distance. If she believes that either she or our daughter is in any danger at all, then she has my permission to concentrate on the three S’s. Those are, shoot … shovel… and shut up. We haven’t had any cause yet, but if a time should come, we won’t have any reservations either.

When it comes to the safety of our family, we have no intention of waiting for Lisa Jackson and Governor Corzine to come to their senses and treat the management of New Jersey’s predators seriously. With their current “ignore the problem and hope no one gets killed before the election” management plan, someone is eventually going to lose a child. It’s absolutely certain to happen…It’s just a matter of when. And my wife and I have no intention of allowing our child to be harmed by a willfully negligent pair of politicians and their delusions about the cuddliness of wildlife.

With that said, naturally I hope the day never comes. As a hunter and a conservative, I’m worried about being a responsible custodian of our environment so I don’t want to have to harm any animal unnecessarily. I’m not some fool who’s only interested in having the government force everyone to conform to my feelings about wildlife whether they're based on reality or not. I’m a responsible adult, not some spoiled liberal stuck in permanent adolescence. I'm not living in suburban luxury while using all the trappings of the modern world to complain about the greed of others (who in truth probably only want what I've already got). And I guess that’s the thing that really annoyed my wife this morning. She rightly feels that the world would be a better place if eternally spoiled and bratty liberals were seen but not heard.

Given the nonsense that so frequently comes out of their mouths, I find it hard not to agree with her.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

- Too Funny: From The Onion

Al Gore Places Infant Son In Rocket To Escape Dying Planet

- A Comment On The Pickens Plan

As a guy who’s spent much of his career in the energy business, I find it tough to criticize T. Boone Pickens. The truth is I think he’s a very admirable guy in many ways. But if you’re one of those people who think that his wind and solar plan is some act of global generosity on his part for the environmental faithful, think again. Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t think T. Boone Pickens has ever done anything that he didn’t believe would benefit him in some way. Not that I think there is anything wrong with that either, but I think we should be seeing the man for what he actually is rather that what so many of the eco-imbeciles want him to be. They think of him as a Republican version of Al Gore, but he’s anything but. To illustrate my point, let me explain some of the “insider” talk about what happened to Amaranth LLC.

Amaranth was a multi-billion dollar hedge fund that had one trader in particular who was really setting the house on fire. Brian Hunter had made over a billion dollars in profits in 2005 trading the highly volatile natural gas market. That’s roughly ten times what industry experts thought anyone could make in a single year in that space. The reason was that he was taking on enormous positions… far larger than anyone with a more traditional view of risk would have ever considered. There were no special tricks or accounting lies…he wasn’t misrepresenting it at all. He was just a guy with a great deal of political clout at the firm where he worked, taking huge positions in a volatile market.

His positions were so big in fact, that virtually everyone in the industry knew about them. It was an open secret at the time that he and one other player made up most of the market for, and were on opposing sides of, a massive spread trade in the natural gas curve. The thing about a spread trade is that it’s highly leveraged so you need to borrow money to keep it in your portfolio. That’s not really a big deal unless the market moves against you. If it does, then you might need to raise additional money to meet margin calls and to keep from being sold out at a loss. Most spread trades have a reliable range, and you’re likely to make money eventually if you can keep the position funded. But because you’re using leverage, you might show a paper loss that’s pretty substantial before you reach your goals. This is a simplification of course, but it’s a basic description of the situation that both Brian Hunter and the opposing party found themselves in early September 2006.

It’s at this point in the story when T. Boone Pickens arrives on the scene. He’s a legend in the natural gas business so when he called both Brian Hunter and the other trader asking to meet with them, there was little chance either of them would say no. He met with each of them in two separate closed door meetings, which were ostensibly to discuss general market conditions. But although no one knows for sure, the industry legend is that Pickens, old bloodhound that he is, was feeling them out to see who had the stronger position. The unconfirmed talk is that he was just sizing them both up to see where the weaknesses were, and that he found what he was looking for in Brian Hunter.

You see… he was one of the few industry players who had both the assets and the direct authority to win this game for one party or the other. And the story is that he met with both players, felt out which was less able to carry a sizable loss for an extended period, and then he took a big enough position in the same direction as the other player to squeeze the weaker party out of the market. There was no collusion involved and no one thinks he did anything wrong at all. He just looked into the eyes of the big players in the market and figured out who was bluffing and who was the real deal. And of course, this is all just industry rumor, no one but the people involved know what actually took place. But we do know as a matter of record, that a few days after those meetings took place, Brian Hunter was folding up Amaranth’s natural gas spread trades at a massive loss, and both Pickens and the other party were on their way to posting record profits trading natural gas in 2006.

The legend about how it happened is all totally unconfirmed. I don’t allege myself that any of this actually took place and if it actually had, there would be no way for me to know it. All I’m claiming is that I had heard it as an industry rumor… a bit of talk around the water cooler about what happened at Amaranth. But even if it all turns out to be completely true, it’s still absolutely legal. No one, not even the guy who posted the massive loss, has alleged that any law had been broken in any way, and I certainly don’t claim otherwise.

The only thing I think it makes totally transparent is that at the end of the day T. Boone Pickens is almost certainly out to help T. Boone Pickens, and T Boone Pickens’ investors. And to a goal like that I say … OK Fair enough. I knew Brian Hunter in passing and I think he probably got what he deserved. Arrogance always gets you as big fall in the markets, and no one could have taken positions the size of Brian’s without at least a little arrogance.

But when I hear people talking about how noble and “environmentally admirable” Pickens’ plan is, I think to myself “T Boone Pickens doesn’t give a hoot about the environment, he only cares about making a buck, so there must be something in this for him.

The answer of course is obvious; if his plan is adopted he’s going to make a mint. But I’ve got to tell you, I don’t even have a problem with that. He makes the distinction that his plan has a political goal rather than an environmental one. He thinks it’s a good idea to stop paying people who hate us billions of dollars ever year, but he doesn’t have much to say about stopping global warming. He’ll even tell you so himself if you take the time to listen to him.

He talks about how we should be aggressively drilling offshore and exploiting oil shale. He openly describes how he and Al Gore have completely different motives. And where Al Gore says that we have a moral responsibility to move toward an energy system based on “wind and solar” Pickens frequently calls that “ridiculous”. According to him wind and solar should account for roughly 5% of our total energy production, and to imagine more than that is just a fools dream.

And when it comes to wind and solar, he should know. He owns one of the largest companies for producing wind energy in the world, and is a massive investor in solar power. Has he done this because he believes it’s noble and will “save the planet”? Lacking the ability to see into another man’s heart I don’t actually know, but I seriously doubt it. I think it’s more likely that he’s trying to make a buck. And to tell you the truth, I find that a more difficult motive to criticize. It’s easy to find lots of sound reasons for calling Al Gore a “crap for brains” perfect worlder who can’t find his hat with both hands. But it’s much harder for me to criticize a billionaire for trying to make an honest dollar doing what he thinks is a smart move in the world of geo-politics.

I don’t even have a big problem with how Mr Pickens wants it done. As an example, he wants to get the government to switch its fleet vehicles to run on natural gas because it can be produced domestically and will weaken our need for imported oil. Is he trying to make a buck off of this? You betcha. He’s the owner of roughly 90% of the natural gas stations for vehicles in the US. But unlike Al Gore who wants to use the government to command everyone to be “environmentally moral”, Pickens wants individual Americans to be able to decide for themselves. He doesn’t want the government to take away our individual freedom. Under his plan, individual Americans can burn whatever they like in their cars. And although I doubt he’d be dumb enough to say so publicly, I’ll bet he thinks Al Gore and his followers are a bunch of pinko imbeciles. (A view not totally dissimilar from my own)

You read a lot on liberal blogs about how T Boone Pickens is no Al Gore. Well that may be true but one thing is for sure, Al Gore is no T Boone Pickens. Where Al is doing all he can to indoctrinate "true believers", Pickens is only looking to earn customers. And as a capitalist I find that goal much tougher to argue with. I would be happier if Mr. Pickens was promoting nuclear power instead of this silly windmill business. Nuclear is cleaner, cheaper and more reliable than wind power, even if it doesn’t recruit the environmental faithful like a windmill. But just because Pickens wants to build a windmill doesn’t make him a “Don Quixote” fighting imaginary enemies like Al Gore. And if he can find a way to make the wind thing payoff without massive taxpayer subsidies then more power to him. I will be the last to criticize a man for doing something I don’t know how to do.

Al Gore is building a religion around environmentalism that uses government to enslave the people to do his will. T Boone Pickens, on the other hand, is trying to make money accomplishing the worthwhile and achievable goal of reducing our need for foreign oil. They aren’t the same thing. Ford made cars and came up with the Model A, the Model T, and eventually the Mustang, etc. Josef Stalin made cars too and came up with the Lada. Al Gore wants to use Stalins methods, while Pickens wants to use Ford's. Ask me to choose between Al Gore’s Lada and T Boone Pickens’ Mustang, and it’s an easy choice for me.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

- Making The World Safe For Volvos

(contains some typical George Carlin profanity)

- Coming to A Public School Near You!!!

Behold the new "Climate Cops". the Environmental movement has finally taken that last public step, the direct indoctrination of the children. Taking a page directly from the Hitler Youth model, they've developed a website for teachers to help brainwash kids into becoming "climate Cops". They're instructed to keep records of their family's energy usage and to report any 'malfeasance' to the appropriate British authorities.

This is in the UK today, but how long do you think it will take before the NEA is arguing for a similar program in the US?

Saturday, July 26, 2008

- Penn & Teller on Environmentalism
(It's Bull - - - !)

In 1990, Penn and Teller did a limited run show on Broadway, and I had a brush with greatness when they called me from the audience to strap Teller into his straight jacket before lowering him headfirst into a tank of water. It was no trick, the straightjacket was the real deal, he just managed to get out of it somehow.

Since then, Penn & Teller have gotten much more famous, and moved to Vegas. Oh… and they also do a TV show now on Cable titled: Bull - - - -. It’s a pretty good show that makes fun of various aspects of American culture and how we delude ourselves in entertaining ways. This episode is on the environmental movement.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

- How Big Can Government Get?!

A Townhall piece by Terence Jeffrey on the rapidly increasing size of Government:

The national debt (the collective mortgage we have taken out on government) stood at $9 trillion at the beginning of this fiscal year. But GAO says we already face a shortfall of $53 trillion between what the government has promised in entitlement benefits and what the current tax structure is likely to take in.

"Imagine we decided to put aside and invest today enough to cover these promises tomorrow," then-Comptroller General David Walker told the Senate in January. "It would take approximately $455,000 per American household -- or $175,000 for every man, woman and child in the United States."

In New Jersey we have one of the highest per capita deficits as well so we have another big shortfall on top of that one.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

- The News Media Comes Clean

On their shameless and laughably biased love affair with Obama.

- How I Spent My Summer Vacation

Right now I’m on a quest for creating the perfect recreational flotation device. It’s my thought that it should keep you suspended in the water at neck depth like submersible lazy boy recliner, should have an option for a drink holder and some kind of floating waterproof table for a book, it should have a headrest, and should be made in the USA but still only cost $1.79. I’ve managed to kluge something together using duct tape, a box cutter, and several “noodles”, but my cost is up around the $4 mark. Still… maybe when we get to mass producing them….

The events that have brought me to this highly unusual moment of stress free leisure started quite a while back. Recently, I took a job working for a large investment bank. But just a few weeks after I joined them it became clear that in spite of their best intentions, the current market turmoil would probably prevent them from honoring every aspect of the deal we'd made. So instead of hanging around pretending to work while looking for another job, I resigned instead. It probably wasn’t a smart thing to do but I think it was the right thing.

Fortunately for me that was only one of several offers I’d been considering, and I’ve since gone and accepted another one. So I’m off to another hedge fund again instead of an investment bank. The only catch is that since its summertime now, vacation schedules have slowed down the contractual process. So while we wait for our lawyers to come back from the Cayman Islands and sign off on the paperwork I’m floating around in my pool with my 8 year old daughter hanging on my shoulders “like a barnacle” as she says.

You may be imagining that scene in The Graduate where Dustin Hoffman spends his summer wasting away in the pool. Well that’s not me. For starters I’m hardly straight out of college so the shots of my pasty middle aged butt bobbing around in my backyard wouldn’t be nearly that appealing. But secondly, I’m not so easily parted from my ambitions; I’m not that much of a lightweight. I function best with a goal in mind, even if that goal may seem silly to others. So instead of simply frying in the sun and drinking Tequila for breakfast, I’m working on my wing shooting skills and trying to develop the perfect recreational flotation device.

I know that not all eyes will weep for me.

Speaking of lightweights, I often wonder what happened to my favorite ex-politician and professional lightweight former NJ State Assemblyman Mike Panter. He hasn’t been in the press much but I guess that’s to be expected. Mikey was the far sighted legislator who brought us such important moments in good government as the New Jersey “Foie Gras” ban, and the attempt to replace the state biologists with animal rights activists when it came time to determining the length of hunting seasons. Talk about a lightweight.

That latter bit of brilliance is what cost him his job in the State Assembly, and in the process created a job for Anthony Mauro, who now heads the NJOA, a PAC dedicated to preserving Hunting Fishing and Trapping in the state. An avid hunter, I'm told Mr. Mauro has quite a few heads mounted on his walls, and since the last election most people believe that Mr. Panter’s is among them. I’m not saying that he’s personally responsible for Mikey’s demise as an elected member of the parasitic class, but he certainly contributed. And now Mike is probably forced to make his way in the world as a “consultant” for whomever in Trenton has a few bucks left over in their budget. I’d say I miss him and his tendency toward legislative frivolity, but to be honest I’m really just glad to be rid of him.

In the meantime I got an absolutely hysterical mailer from my US Congressman Mr. Frank Pallone, the Democrat from New Jersey’s 6th district. Frank, like so many Democrats, doesn’t look to have ever had an honest job. First he was on the Long Branch City Council, then the NJ State Assembly, then the NJ State Senate, and then … well… I’m sure you get the idea. Based on his career as a Democratic legislator, he’s apparently devoted his life to serving the cause of income redistribution by force. You know… as a sort of a reverse robin hood, taking from those who earned it and giving to those who promise to vote for him next year. It’s a proud New Jersey tradition.

And Frank's campaign material made it clear how completely typical Mike Panter really was among New Jersey Democrats. He really didn’t have anything on Frank Pallone. I mean, talk about a lightweight. Mr. Pallone makes a few proposals in his mailer, none of which, it seems to me, will help the people of New Jersey at all. He’s backing the whole Democrat party line on dealing with gas pricing which is a sign that he either doesn’t understand economics, or doesn’t care about getting reelected, or both. And the only thing he seems to be in favor of are policies which will keep the people of New Jersey from earning a living on their own, and increasing the odds that they’ll become dependent on the government.

For instance as an advocate for maintaining that ban on the development of fossil fuels, he’s doing his best to shut down private business in the state and boost our unemployment rate. That’s what happens when oil prices go up. But like the rest of the Democrats in Congress, he doesn’t care about that. Instead he brags about a plan for taking three days worth of oil from the strategic petroleum reserves in an attempt to reduce gas prices about a nickel per gallon for a week or so, then it’s right back to business as usual.

And in the meantime, the ban he supports will permanently shut off access to 100 years of high grade crude oil that we have available off the continental shelf and other locations where drilling for it is prohibited by the government. The access to which would lower gas prices a great deal more than five cents and for a much longer time. Those are the actual numbers you know. Right now Frank and his cronies in the Congress (and their like minded Democrats in Trenton) are keeping a total of roughly 100 years of domestically available sweet crude oil and about 500 years worth of oil shale out of reach of those who would happily add it to the available supply to reduce prices. Congress has in effect implemented its own little oil embargo on the US, and Frank Pallone is a big supporter of it. And if he gets what he wants, then we can count on paying $5 for gas and $6 for heating oil in the near term, and much much more later on. Way to go Frank.

He’s got other ideas too; he’s nothing if not a political opportunist. In fact there is no emergency for which he is without “a legislative response”. He wants to increase the strength of government by increasing funding for the FDA. He wants to increase the strength of government by adding more legislation to keep kids from smoking. He wants to increase the strength of government by refinancing people’s mortgages through the FHA. He wants to increase the strength of government by conducting food inspections overseas. Whatever the question, Frank Pallone has an answer, and it’s always the same one. He’s one more professional politician who thinks the answer is always to give a little more power to the professional politicians. And in the meantime he treats his constituency like we’re all a bunch of idiots who don’t understand anymore about how the world works than … well… than he does.

Well from my spot in my pool I’m trying not to get too worked up over it. I mean, he may be hurting his constituency in lots of direct and easily identifiable ways, but at least he’s good for a laugh. And if you can’t laugh at these middle aged adolescents posing as legislators then what can you do? For Democrats in New Jersey the voters are really a secondary concern so it’s not like he’s going to be held accountable anytime soon. In fact the State is in the process of redistricting my area to make it lean more toward the Democrats, and I’m sure the federal government will find some equally noble way of stacking the deck too. I'm trying to be lighthearted about it.

Besides, things have been a little dull around here since Mike Panter was tossed out. With reliable conservatives for my district in the state assembly and a RINO (Republican In Name Only) in the State Senate, I was afraid I wouldn’t have anyone to make fun of anymore. But I guess I can always count on the federal government to come through for me, even when I prefer they didn’t. That’s the actual point of the Democrats I think… more government, whether you want it or not. And if you aren’t getting what you need at one level, there’s always another, and another and another. In the end they’ll be as many as it takes.

So I’m going to have a closer look at my new favorite lightweight from the Jersey shore, Congressman Frank Pallone Jr. I’m sure he’s done tons of idiotic things (and tried but failed to do others) and I plan on telling you about as many of them as I can dig up. And in the meantime when I get this flotation device thing sorted out, I’ll let you know. I’m really no good without a goal.

- Another Shameless Attack Ad

Here is another "attack ad" from the McCain camp. It seems to say that Barak Obama is responsible for high gas prices just because his policies on energy will lead to higher gas prices.

Oh the horror...the unfairness...

Monday, July 21, 2008

- New York Times Shamelessly Publishes Only Obama

I would never read the rag, but I'm told that last week, the New York Times published an essay by Barak Obama's speech writers about his plans for Iraq. Today John McCain submitted a rebuttal to that piece and the New York Times has refused to publish it.

Personally I don't know why the Times even pretends to be objective anymore. they aren't fooling anyone.

Here is the offending piece by John McCain:

In January 2007, when General David Petraeus took command in Iraq, he called the situation “hard” but not “hopeless.” Today, 18 months later, violence has fallen by up to 80% to the lowest levels in four years, and Sunni and Shiite terrorists are reeling from a string of defeats. The situation now is full of hope, but considerable hard work remains to consolidate our fragile gains.

Progress has been due primarily to an increase in the number of troops and a change in their strategy. I was an early advocate of the surge at a time when it had few supporters in Washington. Senator Barack Obama was an equally vocal opponent. "I am not persuaded that 20,000 additional troops in Iraq is going to solve the sectarian violence there,” he said on January 10, 2007. “In fact, I think it will do the reverse."

Now Senator Obama has been forced to acknowledge that “our troops have performed brilliantly in lowering the level of violence.” But he still denies that any political progress has resulted.

Perhaps he is unaware that the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad has recently certified that, as one news article put it, “Iraq has met all but three of 18 original benchmarks set by Congress last year to measure security, political and economic progress.” Even more heartening has been progress that’s not measured by the benchmarks. More than 90,000 Iraqis, many of them Sunnis who once fought against the government, have signed up as Sons of Iraq to fight against the terrorists. Nor do they measure Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki’s new-found willingness to crack down on Shiite extremists in Basra and Sadr City—actions that have done much to dispel suspicions of sectarianism.

The success of the surge has not changed Senator Obama’s determination to pull out all of our combat troops. All that has changed is his rationale. In a New York Times op-ed and a speech this week, he offered his “plan for Iraq” in advance of his first “fact finding” trip to that country in more than three years. It consisted of the same old proposal to pull all of our troops out within 16 months. In 2007 he wanted to withdraw because he thought the war was lost. If we had taken his advice, it would have been. Now he wants to withdraw because he thinks Iraqis no longer need our assistance.

To make this point, he mangles the evidence. He makes it sound as if Prime Minister Maliki has endorsed the Obama timetable, when all he has said is that he would like a plan for the eventual withdrawal of U.S. troops at some unspecified point in the future.

Senator Obama is also misleading on the Iraqi military's readiness. The Iraqi Army will be equipped and trained by the middle of next year, but this does not, as Senator Obama suggests, mean that they will then be ready to secure their country without a good deal of help. The Iraqi Air Force, for one, still lags behind, and no modern army can operate without air cover. The Iraqis are also still learning how to conduct planning, logistics, command and control, communications, and other complicated functions needed to support frontline troops.

No one favors a permanent U.S. presence, as Senator Obama charges. A partial withdrawal has already occurred with the departure of five “surge” brigades, and more withdrawals can take place as the security situation improves. As we draw down in Iraq, we can beef up our presence on other battlefields, such as Afghanistan, without fear of leaving a failed state behind. I have said that I expect to welcome home most of our troops from Iraq by the end of my first term in office, in 2013.

But I have also said that any draw-downs must be based on a realistic assessment of conditions on the ground, not on an artificial timetable crafted for domestic political reasons. This is the crux of my disagreement with Senator Obama.

Senator Obama has said that he would consult our commanders on the ground and Iraqi leaders, but he did no such thing before releasing his “plan for Iraq.” Perhaps that’s because he doesn’t want to hear what they have to say. During the course of eight visits to Iraq, I have heard many times from our troops what Major General Jeffrey Hammond, commander of coalition forces in Baghdad, recently said: that leaving based on a timetable would be “very dangerous.”

The danger is that extremists supported by Al Qaeda and Iran could stage a comeback, as they have in the past when we’ve had too few troops in Iraq. Senator Obama seems to have learned nothing from recent history. I find it ironic that he is emulating the worst mistake of the Bush administration by waving the “Mission Accomplished” banner prematurely.

I am also dismayed that he never talks about winning the war—only of ending it. But if we don’t win the war, our enemies will. A triumph for the terrorists would be a disaster for us. That is something I will not allow to happen as president. Instead I will continue implementing a proven counterinsurgency strategy not only in Iraq but also in Afghanistan with the goal of creating stable, secure, self-sustaining democratic allies.

Friday, July 18, 2008

- A Shameless Negative Attack Ad

That's what the Obama camp is calling this amateurish piece of fluff. Does it reflect negatively on Michelle Obama? I think so, and in that way I suppose it's negative. But an "Attack ad"?

The Obama campaign is doing all it can to obfuscate who these people are. They don't want us to know the "real them" because they know that then Obama won't get elected. But someone should clue them in that it's not an attack ad to accurately portray someone and their publicly stated opinions. I mean just because the news media completely support him (even the Clinton camp said so) doesn't mean he gets to rewrite all the rules of the English language.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

- Climate Sensitivity Reconsidered

Is the earth getting warmer? Probably yeah. Has man caused this increase in temperature with his evil addiction to fossil fuels? Nope. Will anyone who believes that global warming is a fact be influenced by THESE FACTS published in the Forum on Physics and Society by the American Physical Society? Nope.

This isn’t some skeptics site, this is a serious mathematical review of the modeling process. Maybe you won’t read it, maybe if you do you won’t take the time to understand it. But what it says in a nutshell, is what I’ve been claiming for a year now. Al Gore’s Cult of Global Warming is Bull.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

- Let Them Eat Government Funded Cake

As a guy who calls himself a conservative, these days I’m all too often reminded of that old Mark Twain Quote “The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated”. It’s all I hear lately. “The conservative movement is dead” … or “the conservative movement is in crisis.” The liberal talking heads on the TV repeat it with the same obvious excitement that they would report the end of global hunger. The most egregious case I’ve read so far was when EJ Dionne wrote in the Washington Post that capitalism is taking “a reality check”, as if EJ Dionne knows even the first thing about either capitalism, or reality.

But it’s not just the “Gee I wish we could bring just back the 60’s” set that’s doing the complaining. David Frum, as reliable a conservative as anyone in Washington, has famously made the case that a “small government constituency” isn’t out there in sufficient strength to get what they want done. To be fair to him this is vast simplification of his well thought out essays on the subject, but it still sounds like he’s attending the same funeral as EJ Dionne. It’s pretty much a unanimous sentiment… conservatism is not what it used to be.

Then again, it never really was, was it? Government grew under Reagan, albeit far more slowly than normal. He wanted all the right things but didn’t have the help of congress or the big government loving media. Newt Gingrich and his gang were good at stopping the most egregious excesses of the political left, but apart from welfare reform, didn’t actually get a whole lot done either. And lacking the visionary leadership of a guy willing to become “the most hated man in America to see his goals accomplished, the feckless politicians of all political persuasions quickly went back to buying votes with other people’s money.

So why I wonder, is everyone so convinced that the small government movement is so thoroughly dead? Well in effect it’s because there isn’t sufficient persuasive infrastructure in DC to get the politicians to do something they see as contrary to their own interests. And since they got into government for the power, they universally see reducing the power of government as contrary to their interests. All politicians will lie to get elected (or in this case reelected). And they have become thoroughly expert at playing one group off against another to thwart everyone’s interest but their own. Instead of the checks and balances being used to thwart the ambition of those in government, instead it’s being to expertly thwart the interests of the people.

If you’re a big government populist liberal and believe it’s your duty to take money from “the rich” and spend it to help, puppies, or ponies or children with ponies, or whatever… then you’ll put together a new piece of legislation. “The puppy/pony support act of 2008, the PSA.” This bill will give the federal government the authority to regulate who gets a puppy and who gets a pony, and provide assistance (money) to those puppy and pony-less families. Someone on the other side of the aisle might call it frivolous at first. But he will also be thinking about the future. He’ll be thinking of the day when the Democrats fall out of favor and then he will be the new “puppy and pony” czar. It’s a small thing, but it will add to his power so in the end, he’ll go along with it.

But if he were instead to propose a plan to balance the budget and wanted to slash the 26 billion dollar a year “puppy and pony” plan, he would be called a villain by the press. “Congressman X hates puppies and ponies” they would say in the Washington post. They would write tear jerker stories in LA and Boston about how Congressman X wants little girls to be denied puppies and ponies. It will have an over the fold front page graphic of a pretty but sobbing 7 year old girl denies a puppy or pony by that heartless animal of a congressman. Academics would spring from the ground on CNN and CBS to say that it seriously affects the mental health of children to grow up without a puppy or a pony. They will call you a monster, and draw caricatures of you eating puppies on the cover of Vanity Fair.

My point is, to expand government is an easy thing because it’s always popular in the circles you move. It may hurt the general public, but because it increases the net control of government, the opposition may be against it in the specific but will be for it in general. And for that reason an accommodation can always be worked out. But if you’re going to try to cut government you’ll actually be helping the common citizen, but you had better be determined. You have to have the confidence of a Reagan or a Gingrich, and have the strength of will to stand there and take it when the emotional op-ed bombs are falling all around you. You have to be prepared to take what will certainly be a constant attack from all of the media. There are few people in the world with that kind of character in any business, let alone in government.

That’s one of the two things that were so special about Reagan. He had that “fist in the fire” fortitude to stand up there smiling when the press was saying terrible and universally untrue things about him. But more than that, he also knew what the truth was and could be confident that in the end he’d be remembered fondly for it. He actually understood how the real world worked outside of politics. He knew that deregulation and limited government were in the economic interests of the people of America even if it was against the interests of the political classes. And if necessary he just had to find a way to communicate that to the people of America and they’d back him up. He knew that the press couldn’t be counted on to let the people know how the real world works. He rightly knew that he'd be ridiculed for saying things like "government is not the solution to our problem, government is the problem." but he used the bully pulpit to get his message to the people, and in that way persuade the politicians.

That’s where the real “small government constituency” is… in the same place it’s always been. We’re out here on the outside of the castle walls, excluded from the conversation. Any politician we send to Washington will want more power. so whatever they say, in the end they'll be a part of the problem not the solution. The think tanks and interest groups who help to set policy for them represent the interests of their sponsors and that almost always includes more government somewhere. So we stay out here in the wilderness untouched by people whose only interest is putting themselves first and the well being of the country a distant second.

In truth constituency for small government, may actually be one of the largest because it really is in all of our “economic best interests”. The fact is, small government conservatism is economically populist so long as the people can be made to understand the actual cause and effect of policy. But our political system has figured out how to keep us out of the discussion. Not through some illicit back room deal or Byzantine plot, but by everyone acting in their own best interest. And it has occurred to them that their own best interest always includes more government. The path of least resistance for each of them has left a substantial portion of America out in the cold.

And we’re all still here. But since we’re on the wrong side of the wall, the courtiers of DC, even the ones who would do our bidding if we could help them to, don’t know how to reach us. The methods used for determining the will of the people systematically exclude us because we want the one thing that none of them can live with, and that’s to see their power over us diminish. The polls are all structured to support more government. The media offer a choice between a small increase and a big one. The academics, the pundits, the think tanks, lobbyists, and PAC all have a small stake in keeping the strength of government substantial.

Liberalism is just an unapologetic version of that attitude. But the thing about liberalism is that it’s a political ideology that can only spring from prosperity, and prosperity never survives long when you put liberals in charge. That, in the end, will be the thing that brings conservatism back into fashion among the courtiers. This latest bit of progressivism is a just a generation raised without hardship being steered one last time by the 1960’s political machine of the baby boomers. It won’t last, it never does. But I sure hope we still have something helpful to say when the time comes again.

Monday, July 14, 2008

- Democrats Losing Ground In Fight To Keep Oil Prices High

Drilling offshore and in ANWR, and exploiting the oil shale in the rocky mountain states would offer an increase in the supply of oil in the future, and that would put downward pressure on oil prices today. That's how markets actually work. The only thing standing in the way of that happening has been the US government.

There are two laws currently preventing offshore drilling in the US. The first, an executive ban, was lifted by President Bush this afternoon. That will leave just the congressional ban which expires September 30th of this year. It's going to be awfully entertaining seeing the liberal Democrats in the congress (and a certain presidential candidate) trying to argue that the ban should stay in place because "increasing the supply of oil won't drive down the price".

There are still tons of ways available for Democrats and environmental whacko's to prevent offshore drilling. There will be a long list of enviro-nut lawsuits using the "endangered species act" and a gaggle of State level idiots who are willing to step up to try to keep energy prices high, but at least it's a step in the right direction.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

- Is Buying a Gun a Suicidal Act?

Another great piece, this time from, on the utter lack of evidence to back up the claim of gun ban advocates that "you are more likely to be killed by your own gun if you keep one in your home". Shockingly, it turns out that the claim is total BS, but the the gun ban advocates have repeated as if it's common knowledge anyway. When you look at the actual data surrounding suicides, it can't hold up to cursory scrutiny:

Florida State University criminologist Gary Kleck says there are at least 13 published studies finding no meaningful connection between the rate of firearms and the rate of suicides. The consensus of experts, he says, is that an increase in gun ownership doesn't raise the number of people who kill themselves -- only the number who do it with a gun.

And even that view that a gun makes more successful in their suicide attempt doesn't hold water:

... in his 1997 book, "Targeting Guns: Firearms and Their Control," Kleck points out that "suicide attempts with guns are only slightly more likely to end in death than those involving hanging, carbon monoxide poisoning, or drowning." It's not hard to think of some other pretty foolproof means of self-destruction -- such as jumping off a tall (or even not so tall) building, stepping in front of a train or driving at 80 mph into a telephone pole.

This is another great piece to forward to all those "anti-gun in spite of the evidence" wives and friends.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

- Oh Come On Now!

Surely this is enough to begin thinking that maybe all this Global Warming nonsense has finally gone too far.

- Why We Keep And Bear Arms

Update: Link fixed ...thanks Rob

Larry Elder is very pro-gun, but he isn't violent at all, and isn’t even what I would call a firebrand. He writes considered pieces that are polite and relatively non-confrontational. He doesn’t do like I do and call people that disagree with him idiots. Personally I think that's because he's too kind, but hey ... different strokes...

Anyway, because of his basically good nature, this piece: Why Do We "Keep and Bear Arms"? Part 2 is an excellent one to forward to all those people you know who think that all guns are bad. He cites tons of specific statistics, and makes it clear that the numbers support the pro self defense position.

By the way, even the Violence policy Center, the quintessential anti gun group, claims that guns are used roughly 1.5 million times per year to prevent crime. They just don't see that as justification for allowing people to have them. Read Larry's piece ... it's got a great look at the numbers.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

- The First Black Fuehrer

While I object in principle to lots of things that government does, for the most part all I’m ever going to do is complain about it... like most other people. But there is nothing that makes me as “red-eyed - foaming at the mouth - hand me a rifle and a bandoleer of bullets” angry as those things the government proposes to do directly to my daughter.

I know I’m a little on the protective side, but I believe it’s the parent's right to determine how to raise their child and what values to instill in them. And every time someone in the government says that they feel differently, they also seem to be saying that they plan on forcing me to do otherwise, and I find myself going white hot with rage. For years I’ve been jokingly saying that when the global village shows up to try to raise my child, I’m going to respond with live ammunition. I was kidding of course... mostly.

Indoctrination of the children has always been a policy fixture of the totalitarian left. They want (actually they usually demand) all children be included in national “values programs”. Hitler famously had the uber-leftist “Hitler youth, but he wasn’t to be outdone by Stalin, Mao or Mussolini who all had similar programs to remind children that all “real values” should spring not from their parents but from the state. These programs were usually work or athletics programs, and were designed to instill in children the need for “unity” and “shared sacrifice”. And in the meanwhile, the children were carefully instructed to see the state as the source of all morality and that any others should be ignored.

In America the totalitarian branch of our own political left has tried to launch these values programs as well It’s a tradition that goes back to the Wilson administration, and has been dredged up again and again by every leftists leader of the 20th century. Roosevelt had the CCC and national youth programs. Lyndon Johnson promoted a youth program from within the confines of the national parks system. Jimmy Carter proposed an Environmental youth program with a “make work” agenda and even John Kennedy proposed “Americorps” a domestic volunteer version of the Peace Corps.

But all of those programs were voluntary. And since that was so, they were more a case of wasteful federal spending than an bold new attempt at indoctrinating an entire generation into a political movement. No American politician has ever taken that last critical step essential to the dictatorial left and proposed mandatory conscription of our nation’s youth. That is, no politician until now. In a recent speech, Barak Obama stated the following:

When I'm President, I will set a goal [requirement] for all American middle and high school students to perform 50 hours of [mandatory community] service a year, and for all college students to perform 100 hours of [mandatory community] service a year. This means that by the time you graduate college, you'll have done 17 weeks of [mandatory community] service.

Obama is considered the most leftist Senator in the US Congress, and he seems determined to hold on to that title.

Working in your community can be a noble thing, but in order to be admirable it must be voluntary. There’s no nobility in simply failing to break a law by meeting a mandatory requirement. On the contrary, to me and the many people who feel the way I do, making community service compulsory is tantamount to slavery imposed by the state.

Many high schools already impose such a program as a requirement of graduation. Our local schools do not. I suspect one of the reasons it’s never taken off in our suburban NJ town is that we have in residence, a higher than average percentage of immigrant Jews. And having come from places in Eastern Europe where there is a still a clear memory of what happens when plans like this are put into effect, I suspect that they all know better.

For them the memory of the Hitler youth and the proletariat pogroms are not so distant that they’re willing to take a chance on something that that looks so similar. And they probably feel even less enthusiastic when the guy proposing it is a messianic leader of a cult of personality, and receives the same fawning praise from the youth and the media that Hitler did. Their families have an intimate memory of how popular Hitler was and the similarities to the Obama movement are probably a little too close for comfort.

Then of course there’s also the document that’s been the bane of so many plans of the Democrats, the ever pesky US Constitution. The Thirteenth Amendment reads as follows:

Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.

Speaking as legal custodian of my minor child, you can damn well bet that any compulsory community service would be “involuntary”.

Even if you agree with everything that Obama says, you can’t help but notice how similar the Obama movement is in method and tone to Hitler's third Reich. Like Obama, Hitler spoke very well and was viewed by many as “the savior” of a new Germany. Like Obama, Hitler wanted to change how politics was done in German and redefine what it meant to be a patriot. You can almost hear Eva Braun as the Oprah of her day insisting that Hitler is “Eine Änderung, die wir innen glauben können”.

The cult of personality is what got Hitler elected, and the trouble only started afterward. And if Obama is elected the cult of personality will have done the same for him. In fact virtually everything Obama says he wants for America could have been taken directly from the Hitler playbook, translated into modernized English, and simplified for an Oprah watching audience. It all has the same sound.

Like Obama, Hitler spoke of requiring a new kind of sacrifice of each and every citizen. And like Obama, Hitler didn’t want people deciding for themselves, but wanted to be the one making all the decisions. He preached constantly of a new unity and wanted nothing but “the power to make a real change” in Germany. By any of these measures Obama certainly seems to want to be the first black Fuehrer. At least he sounds like it. I’m not saying that he wants to kill Jews or conquer Poland, but he claims to have a “bold new vision for America” as if the one we had before will no longer do.

And whatever his new vision for America, if involves pressing my daughter into some sort of community service chain gang then he’s going to get trouble from me. Leftists since the 60’s have said that dissent is the highest form of patriotism. As usual they’ve made a total hack of history and accused Thomas Jefferson of saying it, but that’s not actually true. All the same though, if dissent is patriotic then Obama can count on me. I don’t imagine I’ll ever give up the fight against his vision of America. Instead I think I’ll stick to my own. According to him I have to bitterly cling to something, and an America free from leftist tyranny seems as good an idea as any.

Inmates And The Asylum - Part 2

Most conservatives were liberals at one time. By definition we all start out young, and when we’re young we tend to believe that every idea that’s new to us is a new idea to everyone. It’s a cliché that those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it, but the same is true of those who are simply ignorant of it as well. It’s no fault of the youth that they don’t know from where they speak, but excusing their ignorance is not the same as believing that their ideas hold some wisdom. The young are not fools, but are often just as wrong as fools.

Later, as our knowledge experience offers perspective, it becomes clear just how far humanity has come and how few ideas are really new. And when that happens, Conservatives can still look back at the liberal worldview and understand it because it used to their own. They understand how the ego can be mistaken for a defining moral compass, or how rationalization can take the place of logic. They can see clearly how the most passionate liberals are those who are the most insecure and that they address that insecurity by insisting that everyone does things their way.

Conservatives understand why it’s so important for liberals to be the person who makes the decisions and why it’s so hard for them to let everyone decide for themselves. They know that the liberal doesn’t trust the world to act rationally because liberals assume everyone in the world is making up their own definition of “truth”… the same as every liberal.

There is no objective truth to a liberal, they’re emotional defense mechanisms won’t allow them to see it. It’s easier for them to rationalize a new truth that explains away logical inconsistencies than to acknowledge an objective truth and change their behavior accordingly. And because that’s so, everything everywhere must be subject to interpretation. There is no logical fallacy so great or personal hypocrisy so obvious that it doesn’t have some liberal somewhere arguing for its acceptance.

And when a liberal world view comes face to face with the realities of the world, someone somewhere ends up looking silly, and invariably tries to redefine their way out of an obvious failure. Unfortunately for all of us, Economics is one of those areas where liberals usually run into much trouble.

High energy costs will slow an economy. Any business that’s only marginally profitable will be driven into insolvency if the cost of energy is high enough. But just because those businesses weren’t as profitable doesn’t mean they didn’t gainfully employ people. And when those companies fold up because of high energy costs, unemployment will rise. This isn’t some right wing diatribe or a partisan view; it’s a simple and utterly unavoidable fact… an inescapable part of reality. But the Liberals in congress will have none of it.

Liberals are in complete control of congress right now. The President can propose anything he likes but without congresses approval, nothing will get done. And right now the liberals who control congress have an energy policy that consists of a few basic points, no new domestic drilling or refining, no nuclear power, new taxes on oil companies, and massive federal funding of solar and wind power. Since none of these points will lead to lower energy costs, it would be rational to assume that they don’t really want energy to be cheaper. And that means that they want unemployment to be high and economic growth to be low. Either that, or they’re completely stuck on the process, and utterly ignoring the goals.

The truth is they don’t necessarily want unemployment to be high and growth to be low. But they do want the cost of oil to stay high because it will reduce its usage and the CO2 that comes from it. The liberals in congress are under the assumption that Americans would prefer higher energy costs because of the hype surrounding global warming. But they would prefer that the cost of oil stays high without any of the natural consequences that come from its high price.

They’ve proposed ideas to prevent those natural consequences and guess what. .. It focuses on the same process that they always use. They’ve locked onto an idea from the 70’s that had disastrous results at the time, but they still can’t escape it. The process they’ve locked onto is government control. They’ll use the government to try to change the rules of nature and to make all the decisions for everyone, everywhere.

Conservative principles revolve around the idea that everyone should be empowered to make their own decisions. Even the idea of “low taxes” is based on letting everyone decide what to do with their own money rather having government take it and spend it for them. If everyone chooses for themselves, then by definition some people will make worse choices than others. But conservatives generally believe that people would be happier with less if they’re the ones who chose it. It’s like the difference between quitting a job and getting fired. Either way you sit home, but one feels better than the other because you’re the one who chose it.

Liberals on the other hand believe that everyone should do things the way that the liberal thinks is best. They aren’t focused on the goal, but on the process. “How” it gets done is of paramount importance to them. And if the public would choose to do things any other way, then it’s perfectly OK with liberals to use the force of government to “make them” do it the right way.

Our current energy policy is designed to reflect just that. And the only means of obtaining energy that they’ve approved of is solar power and wind power. They say that we “can’t drill our way out of this problem” as an excuse for continued prohibition of drilling, but that’s an abject fallacy. In fact we almost certainly can drill ourselves out of this problem, and the markets would reflect it immediately if they would approve new domestic drilling.

We could also do like France does and get a great deal of our electrical power from Nuclear plants. But that’s not part of the Democrat’s approved process either. Or we could have the government step back and let everyone who has any ideas at all about lowering energy cost get into the game. Entrepreneurship has solved more of the world’s problems than anything else, but the Democrats don’t like that process wither. They only like the process which leaves them in control and making all the decisions. This is a problem that’s been caused by politics, so they will only allow politics to solve it.

The Democrats in congress are causing this “energy crisis”, but they can’t hold out forever. When heating oil reaches a price level that’s unsustainable for most people (as they probably will this winter) Democrats in congress will have to allow the supply of traditional energy sources to increase. That means new drilling, new refining, nuclear power, and natural gas. But until then, they’re process focused people in a goal oriented world. And we’re all going to have to live with that.

The American voter has put the inmates in charge of the asylum so things look a little crazy right now. But in spite of the socialist blather of the Democrats about “speculators” and “big oil” and “unnecessary profits”, the real cause of the crisis will be apparent to everyone soon enough. And when that happens, we can put the grown ups back in charge of our energy policy, and put the Democrats in Congress back in their straight jackets where they belong. America’s youth are not fools, but are just as wrong as fools. The Democrats in congress have no such excuse.

Friday, July 4, 2008

- Inmates And The Asylum

From where I sit this Fourth of July, it looks very much like we’ve handed control of America’s policy making machine to a group of people who are completely deluded about the workings of the world. I joke a lot about how foolish the Democrats look when they’re talking about Economics; as if the law of supply and demand were something they could ignore without consequences. And it seems that Congress (the only group of people in the world with an approval rating lower than that of George Bush) is determined to prove me right.

The reason for that is simple. The world is an uncertain place and for all our measured insight and planning, things almost never work out the way we intend. But we face that uncertainty in different ways. Conservatives deal with the uncertainty of life by persistently focusing on their goals, and letting the processes used to achieve them adapt as necessary. Even if the process seems cruel to others, conservatives typically remain steadfast and unpersuaded. As an example, the problem of getting people off of welfare was a conservative initiative. Given a free hand to solve the problem Conservatives simply took away the welfare and presto…goal achieved. But that singularity of vision makes conservatives seem heartless to those that don’t buy into their ideas.

Liberals meanwhile have to deal with that same uncertainty, but their process for dealing with it is very different. Instead of using whatever heartless means is most effective at achieving the goal, they will instead remain focused on the specific process they use. The process is most important to them because how they approach a problem defines a big part of who they are. And when that specific process fails to achieve what they intended, their self opinion is too entangled in it to just change their mind and adapt. So instead, they’ll simply change their goals to match whatever result their permanent process manages to produce.

Take the example of the liberal struggle against “illegal guns”. Instead of selecting methods based on their heartless effectiveness, they have instead fixed on a process of creating additional bans and restrictions which make it harder to own a firearm legally. This top down philosophy seems more "moral" to them because it involves everyone being compelled to agree with them rather than allowing them to make their own choices. And when that method failed to achieve their original goal of “eliminating deaths and injuries from firearms” they changed their goal after the fact, and began calling it a struggle against “illegal guns”.

The methods they cling to include bans on various types of firearms based upon their appearance and a bewildering array of other prohibitions and regulations which limit only those people who wish to purchase a firearm legally and are unlikely to commit a crime. They’ve implemented rules preventing only non-criminals from carrying firearms and created special locations where guns are never allowed. But in spite of their efforts criminals still carry guns with impunity, and "gun free" areas have tragically attracted more armed criminals. Even when multiple independent studies confirm that their laws haven’t prevented crime, instead of focusing on their goal and adopting new methods, they continue to focus on their process, and layer new restrictions over the old. To them, it’s the process that’s important, and the results they may achieve are of secondary concern.

In the coming election we’re faced with two issues which the new President will need to act on that are of paramount importance to the future of the country, and the differences between these perspective is glaringly obvious on the two candidates. With regard to the war on terror, John McCain is focused on the goal of a world where our enemies may still despise us, but they lack the ability to do anything about it. Toward that end he’s prepared to do whatever is necessary to ensure a stable, peaceful, and comparatively free Iraq and he sees military force as a partial means to that end. Barak Obama on the other hand is focused on the process of using negotiation and diplomacy exclusively and will not consider military force. “Talk” he believes, is the best way to ensure peace, and barring extraordinary circumstances, the use of military force will be off the table as a potential method of achieving his goals.

While the outcome of John McCain’s plan is far from certain, that isn’t so for the plan of the Democrats. Time and time and time again throughout history focusing on diplomacy at the exclusion of military options has proven tragic, and often resulted in the loss of millions of lives. But it’s the process that’s important to the Democrats, not the goal.

The other issue we’re facing today is the issue of the high cost of energy and its effect on our economy. Leaving energy at its present levels (or higher as it’s looking to go) will result in substantial increases to unemployment in the next few months and a dramatic slow down of our economy. This will further lower the stock market, weaken the dollar and reduce tax revenues wreaking havoc on our already out of control federal budget.

The conservative solution would be to focus on the goal of reducing energy costs by whatever methods available. That would involve lifting all domestic bans on drilling (which might cut as much as 40% of the peak price of oil all alone), widespread implementation of nuclear power, and wholesale deregulation of the energy producing industry. That deregulation would result in greater choices being developed for all Americans, and would drive prices lower as more options became available. This might have other consequences that some people find unappealing, but it would absolutely achieve the goal.

The liberal solution to this problem on the other hand is to focus only on the method. And the only methods that have received endorsement from the liberal left are wind power and solar power. They believe new drilling is out of the question because they feel it would contribute to carbon in the atmosphere and to additional profit for energy companies. Nuclear and clean coal technology is out of the question because they believe that they will harm the environment more than power from solar and wind. Instead of deregulation of the industry liberals have also proposed various income redistribution schemes where they increase the tax on oil companies and distribute that in the form of a payment to the public.

All the methods that liberals are proposing now have been tried before, and none of them have been effective at encouraging economic growth or lowering energy cost. The Carter administration tried a “windfall profits tax” with disastrous results. Wind and solar power are growing, but promise to meet no more than 5% of our total energy need at any time in the foreseeable future. And the facts around nuclear power indicate that it’s safe and clean, but liberals are still focused on the process and uninterested in the facts.

If we choose the liberal proposals then we will all be able to congratulate ourselves on what responsible “global citizens we are” but our unemployment will rise, our economy will falter and our quality of life will be reduced. This will probably be presented by those making the decisions as “a small price to pay toward achieving their goals”, but the goal isn’t what they’re focused on. They’re focused on the process.

--------------- Next: Inmates And The Asylum - Part 2 ----------------

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

- School Vouchers Video

- More Truth About Global Warming

It seems the rest of the world is starting to catch on to what nonsense the “global Warming” movement is. In a Wall Street Journal Piece today, Bret Stevens calls it a “Mass Neurosis”. In particular he, and other writers, now seem to be catching on to how much of this movement is about “faith” and how little is about evidence:

If even slight global cooling remains evidence of global warming, what isn't evidence of global warming? What we have here is a nonfalsifiable hypothesis, logically indistinguishable from claims for the existence of God. This doesn't mean God doesn't exist, or that global warming isn't happening. It does mean it isn't science.

I’ve been saying this for ages, but since my job for the last 20 years has been to analyze data similar to that used to justify global warming alarmism, I’ve got what amounts to an unfair advantage in detecting the environmental “bull”. It's nice to see the non-quantitative world beginning to catch on. This piece won't change any one's mind of course because it's talking about things like "logic" and "evidence", and both of those concepts have been beaten out of the global warming movement for ages now.

At this point, the smartest people are all turning away from the hype. Pretty soon the only people who continue to believe in global warming will be those too inexperienced to know when they're being had, and those who fall into the left half of the intelligence bell curve. People like undergraduates and high school kids will make up most of the first group, and actors, journalists, politicians and public school teachers will make up most of the second.

In a related story (and when it comes to global warming we already know that we’re supposed to think of everything as related) a vast algae bloom has engulfed the port of Qingdao in China, offering an unattractive setting for the sailing events for the coming Olympics. Some of the pictures of this are pretty cool:

I personally keep thinking about how much of that dreaded CO2 this algae is slurping out of the atmosphere.

I know what you’re thinking… you’re wondering: "Where are all the environmentalists demanding that China leave the algae alone in order help “save the planet”?"

Well the fact is, the global warming movement is made up, largely of rich, spoiled, shallow, self congratulatory kids who have never really considered the consequences of their short sighted opinions. And those aren’t the kind of people that stand up to heavily armed totalitarian regimes. Most of them only support the global warming faith because it gives them a chance to proclaim themselves more moral than their peers in a way that doesn’t actually require going to the trouble of adopting any moral behavior on their part.

Besides, China has “commanded” 20,000 of it’s citizens to clean up the mess and none of them are complaining about it. So I don’t think anyone has trouble believing that the Chinese government would have no problem throwing a few hundred of the environmental faithful into a deep dark hole in some central China prison somewhere… at least until after the Olympics.

The global warming faithful don't even have the courage to stand up to a guy like me, let alone the world's largest totalitarian country. So I'm betting they'll be sitting this one out.