ARC's 1st Law: As a "progressive" online discussion grows longer, the probability of a nefarious reference to Karl Rove approaches one

Monday, December 31, 2007

2007 Predictions - A Harsh Review

Well, as is custom here at Another Rovian Conspiracy, it's the end of the year and time to tally the scores from our predictions for the year that has now come to a close. Unlike other prognostications that are made by other bloggers and media outlets, the conspirators are harshly scored and held to account for their predictions.

Brian took the prize for his predictions of 2006 - will he make a repeat? Or will the wily Monterey John, who came in 2nd place last year, grab it this year? Could Penelope somehow steal the prize? Although she didn't make any predictions, she's always heavily armed and lurking in the shadows...

Here is a link to our predictions that we made back in early 2007.

Scoring is 0 pts for wrong, 1pt for partially correct, 2pts for accurate prediction. Final score is Total points divided by total number of possible correct predictions.

All scoring is final.



First up, Monterey John:

1. Hillary Clinton comes out of the closet
Very prescient. While there have been rumors, Hillary!TM hasn't "come out." Nevertheless, I'll give you partial credit - 1 pts

2. Dick Durbin admits he is in remedial history classes with emphasis on 20th century tyrannies
I wish it were so... Dickie D is too stupid to recognize that he's stupid - 0 pts

3. California, Chicago and NYC ban KFC and McDonalds
Partial credit - 1 pt. While these chains haven't been banned, the Trans-fats that make their French Fries and Drumsticks sooo tasty have been banned - so, pretty close.

4. Democratic house leadership seeks declaration of war on Walmart
Hmmmm... Partial, 1 pt. always much bleating over Wal-Mart and it seems like the Dem base is more interested in a Presidential candidate with the backbone to stand up to Wal-Mart over one willing to take on the "terrorists." But, no declaration of war or anything approaching it. If Edwards wins the Presidency, however... Time to short Wal-Mart (and every other stock).

5. John Kerry launches mission to Osama bin Laden and declares this "spiritual leader" ready and willing to deal with US
0 Pts

6. Bill Clinton asks rhetorically what the meaning of "was" was
Correct, 2 pts - Bill did say that he "was" against the Iraq War, when in fact he was for it. I suppose it depends on the meaning of the word "was."

7. Denver blizzard of 2006 was result of global warming according to New York Times
2 pts - Can't everything be blamed on Global Warming?

8. Minimum wage bill amended to $109.50/hr... Pelosi says, "Hell, why not?"
Close, but only up a couple of bucks. 1 pts

9. DJI reaches 15,000 - Senate Democrats predict impending economic doom
Without the subprime mess, you'd probably be right. 0 pts

10. Unemployment rate reaches 2.5% - see 9 above
Still at record lows, but not that low. 0 pts

11. Inflation rate 1.5% - see 9 above
Actually higher... 0 pts

12. Home sales reach record levels - see 9 above
Way off... 0 pts

13. English becomes official second language in California
1 pt - nah, nothing will ever be official... It'll just happen slowly. (Although, the Spanish-only NFL ad could be considered as close to official as we'll get.

14. John Kerry is beheaded by Osama bin Laden
0 pts

15. William Jefferson D-La announces he is running for president as he has plenty of cold cash on hand
0 pts(although he's still in Dem leadership, right?

16. Robert Byrd D-WVa sponsors anti-earmarking legislation and attaches rider that will fund the Robert Byrd Skyway from Charleston WVa to Washington DC
Earmarks? We don't have those anymore, right?

While not Byrd specifically, they all have their hands in the till while they excoriate earmarks - 2 pts



Now for Brian:
  1. Rosie O'Donnell will "retire" from the view. She begins working on a film project. [this is a ripoff from St Wendeler]
    Good prediction, 2 Pts - Shame that you stole it from St Wendeler.

  2. Moqtar al-Sadr will be killed.
    0 pts

  3. Violence will escalate in Iraq in the first half of the year, followed by a lull.
    Absolutely correct - 2 Pts (Despite Juan Cole's protestations to the contrary)

  4. Minimum wage bill will be signed into law. (oooh out on a limb aren't I)
    2 Pts... You're like Cleo on that one.

  5. Prescription drug benefit will be re-examined by Democrats in the house, but will go no where.
    0 Pts (Did the Dems do anything this year?

  6. Bush will veto at least 3 bills this year
    2 pts - Bush finally figures out that he can veto some things.

  7. Case against Scooter Libby is withdrawn. Fitzgerald cites the lack of evidence he is able to put on due to restrictions from the CIA on classified information. Media takes this as Scooter winning on a technicality, but is happy to have the case go away (technically innocent, but we all know he's guilty). Joe Wilson's civil suit is dismissed with a summary judgement.
    0 Pts - Scooter is still a pariah, and I believe Wilson & Plame's suit is still on the table.

  8. Barack Obama's presidential prospects peak in 2007.
    Prospects may peak in 2008, but he's still a rock star in 2007 and positioned well for the primaries - 0 Pts

  9. Newt Gingrich does not announce a candidacy for the presidency.
    2 pts

  10. Colin Powell makes an announcement that he will NOT run for president despite no-one asking him to run.
    0 Pts

  11. Michelle Malkin will do Pulitzer Prize level work while being embedded in Iraq, but will be ignored by everybody but Fox News.
    2 Pts

  12. Dick Cheney leaves the VP office. Conspiracy theories abound on how Karl Rove a) gave him an offer he couldn't refuse or b) offed him.
    Cheney certainly has been out of the news cycle, but he's still in office - 0 pts


Now for Saint Wendeler:
  1. Rosie off view - in order to pursue her next ambitious project
    Correct - 2 Pts

  2. Air America really out of business
    Somehow still kicking, despite lack of ratings and a talent. 0 Pts

  3. MSM undermines war effort more than in 2006
    Correct - 2 Pts Once things started turning around in Iraq, it disappeared from view and the MSM pretended that nothing had changed.

  4. Nifong found guilty of ethics violations
    Partially Correct - 1 Pt. Nifong disbarred, but Feds aren't going to prosecute him.

  5. Duke lacrosse players cleared of all remaining charges
    Correct - 2 Pts

  6. Osama is confirmed dead; Libs don't think it's a big deal even though they've been bitching about him being alive for 4 years.
    Incorrect - 0 Pts. (Although I don't think we'll ever know when he dies.)

  7. President Tom gets whackier; continues to lose support within country
    Partially Correct - 1 Pt. A visit to Columbia where he gets support from US college students is about as whacky as I can take.

  8. Jimmy Carter asserts himself in foreign policy (aka makes an ass of himself)
    Correct, 2 Pts - This was like shooting fish in a barrel.

  9. Mexico will be a larger concern in the War On Terror, through unholy alliance of drug kingpins, international terrorists, and revolutionary leftists
    0 Pts - While this is true, no one is concerned at all.

  10. Hugo Chavez will expand his influence over South America
    0 Pts - If only I had said that Hugo would've expanded his influence over the Leftists on college campuses. The voters in Venezuela even kept him from increasing his influence there.

  11. Castro will die; Raul will pick up where he left off - no democracy for Cuba
    1 Pt - The man is still alive, but Raul has been running the country.

  12. Hamas ousts Fatah for control of Palestine. Pacifists around the world don't understand why the Israelis can't sit down and negotiate with the new government.
    0 Pts - Palestine is still split between Hamas and Fatah, although Hamas seems to have the upper hand.

  13. Chris Matthews announces that he's running for President as a Green b/c he's tired of how conservative and weak the Dems are. Keith Olberman follows suit.
    0 Pts - Matthews and Olberman are still an idiots, but they're not running.

  14. Obama is still a rock star.
    2 Pts

  15. Tax cuts do not become permanent, but Bush does not allow tax increase - veto pen is ready (Tim Russert has a conniption).
    2 Pts

  16. Guest Worker program doesn't pass - status quo.
    2 Pts - Although it did ruin McCain's chance at the Presidency.

  17. Unemployment rate inches up to 5% - MSM doesn't know how to cover, since Dems control Congress.
    Partially Correct, 1 Pt - Unemployment slightly below 5% and the MSM still covering the economy as if it's 1931.

  18. Annual economic growth is 2.5%
    0 Pts - It looks like I may have misunderestimated as last quarter the annual forecast was 4.9%, although final numbers won't be out for some time. MSM still covering this as the Great Depression. I may come closer as 4th quarter numbers come in.

  19. DJIA approaches 14,000
    2 Pts - Started the year at 12,500, crossed 14,000 in October, slipped to just 13,264 on the last day of trading.

  20. Bush appoints 3rd SCOTUS nominee - minority or woman with no track record, scaring Dems & GOP.
    0 Pts

  21. More "youth" riots in France
    2 Pts - Although Sarkozy is handling better than predecessor

  22. Terrorist attack in EU
    1 Pt - Glasgow was the only "major" attack in Europe? Hmmmm.... perhaps the War On Terror is actually working. Partial credit because of the fact that the damage was relatively minor.

  23. Congress approves increase in troops, with conditions of a timetable for exit.
    1 Pt - They didn't even get a timetable or tie the hands of Bush or Petraeus.

  24. Significant Troop level still in Iraq by end of 2007.
    2 Pts - Although it's driving the Left absolutely bonkers.



And the results are:

Monterey John
Total Pts = 11
Score = 34% (11 out of 32 possible)

Brian
Total Pts = 11
Score = 45% (11 out of 24)

St Wendeler
Total Pts = 26
Score = 54% (26 out of 48 possible)


WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOT!!!!

Saint Wendeler takes the title from Brian for 2007.

To my fellow conspirators, it was a great year. Good luck in 2008!

Up Next - 2008 Predictions! Bye-Bye!!

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

Saint Wendeler's Presidential Pick - Fred Thompson

Fred Thompson has this excellent video on YouTube which makes the case for his candidacy for President. It's 17 minutes, but worth the time; it will be interesting to see if this has any impact on Iowa voters.



I'm mixed between supporting Romney and Thompson. In the end, Thompson is closer to my views and my only concern is his ability and drive to close the deal should he win the nomination.

But, after a slow start, I think he makes an excellent case and he has my support. No doubt the Thompson campaign has been eagerly awaiting this endorsement...

;-)

Key reasons are:

  • His tax reform proposal is excellent (better than the Fair Tax proposal of Huckabee)
  • He understands the strategic implications of the War On Terror
  • Correct philosophy regarding judiciary
  • Doesn'nt have the troublesome economic populism of Huckabee
  • Has the correct view of our problems with the education system, etc, etc.
Romney is the best alternative to Thompson in my opinion, primarily due to his policy positions, management experience, background in business.

Overall, I rank the candidates in the following way:
  1. Thompson
  2. Romney
  3. Giuliani
  4. McCain
  5. Huckabee

I also think that Thompson could be a distinct choice when positioned against Clinton or Obama.

I'll provide my prediction for the caucuses and primaries in a subsequent post, along with all of my 2008 predictions.

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

Thursday, December 27, 2007

The Bhutto Assination - Very Bad News Indeed

I woke up here on the West Coast to the horrifying if predictable news that Benazir Bhutto had been assinated. The talking heads are babbling their usual vapid platitudes. Turning to The Corner I found this from Mark Steyn, and it is about as good a first impression as I have seen or heard:

Benazir Bhutto [Mark Steyn]


Benazir Bhutto's return to Pakistan had a mad recklessness about it which give today's events a horrible inevitability. As I always say when I'm asked about her, she was my next-door neighbor for a while - which affects a kind of intimacy, though in fact I knew her only for sidewalk pleasantries. She was beautiful and charming and sophisticated and smart and modern, and everything we in the west would like a Muslim leader to be - though in practice, as Pakistan's Prime Minister, she was just another grubby wardheeler from one of the world's most corrupt political classes.

Since her last spell in power, Pakistan has changed, profoundly. Its sovereignty is meaningless in increasingly significant chunks of its territory, and, within the portions Musharraf is just about holding together, to an ever more radicalized generation of young Muslim men Miss Bhutto was entirely unacceptable as the leader of their nation. "Everyone’s an expert on Pakistan, a faraway country of which we know everything," I wrote last month. "It seems to me a certain humility is appropriate." The State Department geniuses thought they had it all figured out. They'd arranged a shotgun marriage between the Bhutto and Sharif factions as a "united" "democratic" "movement" and were pushing Musharraf to reach a deal with them. That's what diplomats do: They find guys in suits and get 'em round a table. But none of those representatives represents the rapidly evolving reality of Pakistan. Miss Bhutto could never have been a viable leader of a post-Musharraf settlement, and the delusion that she could have been sent her to her death. Earlier this year, I had an argument with an old (infidel) boyfriend of Benazir's, who swatted my concerns aside with the sweeping claim that "the whole of the western world" was behind her. On the streets of Islamabad, that and a dime'll get you a cup of coffee.

As I said, she was everything we in the west would like a Muslim leader to be. We should be modest enough to acknowledge when reality conflicts with our illusions. Rest in peace, Benazir.


Update from Cliff May also at The Corner:

Pakistan Lessons [Cliff May]

Bhutto's murder points to a lesson we (the Foreign Policy Establishment in particular) has been slow to learn:

This is not some extraordinary event. This is not the work of some lone madman. This is how militant Islamists contest elections – not just in Pakistan but also in Lebanon and Gaza and wherever they they get a foothold.

Why bother with opeds, TV commercials, high-priced campaign strategists, spin doctors and pollsters when with one suicide bomber you can eliminate your opponent entirely?

Hard to argue with the logic.


It amazes me that there are still people in this country that think we can reason with the terrorists or find some way to deal with them other than killing them.

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC:MontereyJohn

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Willing Suspension of Disbelief, Part 2

Part 1 here

Idiot professor of the Left tries to dispel the Top 10 Myths about Iraq today. Fortunately, Dr. Sanity weighs in with an excellent, point-by-point refutation of the lowly professor.

Here's my response to Dr. Cole:
10. Myth: The US public no longer sees Iraq as a central issue in the 2008 presidential campaign.

Ummm - What's with all the questions in the Presidential debates about Iraq? (And, why is it that the debate moderators ask questions that would indicate that the violence in Iraq has increased, not decreased?)

[Update - I realize that I misread Dr. Cole's Myth #10 - Iraq is still a main issue in the presidential election (although it seems like debate moderators are spending less and less time on the issue as it seems that success is being realized. Hey, at least Juan and I agree on something!]



9. Myth: There have been religious and political reconciliation in Iraq in 2007.

Religious reconciliation is certainly in its early stage. As I have argued, political reconciliation is taking place at the local level and must be successful there before it can be provided by a national government.



8. Myth: The US troop surge stopped the civil war that had been raging between Sunni Arabs and Shiites in the Iraqi capital of Baghdad

yeah... rrrrrrrrrright. I assume that if we had pulled out of Iraq in the Spring of 2007, the "civil war" would've simply disappeared.



7. Myth: Iran was supplying explosively formed projectiles (a deadly form of roadside bomb) to Salafi Jihadi (radical Sunni) guerrilla groups in Iraq.

Why is Cole so desirous of eliminating any responsibility from the blood-stained hand of the Iranian government? He no doubt thinks that the Iranian Revolutionary Guard is just some misunderstood version of the Boy Scouts. Why is it that Juan trusts President Tom more than anyone else?



6. Myth: The US overthrow of the Baath regime and military occupation of Iraq has helped liberate Iraqi women.

I know that the young girls who were abducted by the Hussein brothers to play their part with the Two Wild & Crazy guys (shortly before being shot in the back of the head) would agree with Juan.



5. Myth: Some progress has been made by the Iraqi government in meeting the "benchmarks" worked out with the Bush administration.

So, if the Iraqi government meets 3 of 5 benchmarks, do we simply throw our hands up, pull our troops out, and watch as the country disintegrates into an Al-Qaeda led rogue nation state of concern? Or do we attempt to assist the Iraqi government to achieve those benchmarks? And, given that relative stability in the security of the country are only recent achievements, it should be no surprise that some benchmarks have been unmet.



4. Myth: The Sunni Arab "Awakening Councils," who are on the US payroll, are reconciling with the Shiite government of PM Nuri al-Maliki even as they take on al-Qaeda remnants

Well, Sunni employment in Iraqi police forces and military is one step towards reconciliation with the national government (led by a Shiite). Baby steps, Juan... baby steps. I'm sure you didn't become an avowed anti-American socialist overnight. No, it took you some time to develop into an America hating idiot. Give them some time, dear boy. Look - they're starting to make some movement... Just need some time.



3. Myth: The Iraqi north is relatively quiet and a site of economic growth. Juan makes this ridiculous claim: The north is so unstable that the Iraqi south is now undergoing regular bombing raids from Turkey.

(The Turks are bombing the South of Iraq? WHAT?!?

Besides this idiotic statement, Cole points out that the Kurdish region is a political minefield because of the historical antagonism between the Kurds and the Turks. This is true and is a situation which the US is working with the Turks, the Kurds, and the national Iraqi government to resolve. But be sure that Turkish bombing of the Iraqi North is not happening without our knowledge.

[Update - Apparently Juan has fixed his mistake in his original post. Glad I could help. However, it doesn't minimize the fact that Turkey, the US, and the central Iraqi government have an interest in making sure the PKK does not destabilize the relatively quiet north and will likely work together to achieve that goal.]



2. Myth: Iraq has been "calm" in fall of 2007 and the Iraqi public, despite some grumbling, is not eager for the US to depart.

Iraq has been calm and average Iraqis (and especially those who've lived under the AlQaeda yoke) recognize that our pullout would insure their doom.



1. Myth: The reduction in violence in Iraq is mostly because of the escalation in the number of US troops, or "surge."

Wait... wasn't this Cole's point number 8? What is it about the Left that makes them go apesh!t over the Surge? They have to recognize that they are wrong. Even John Murtha, former champion of the White Flag, recognizes that the Surge has worked.

In fact, some Leftards are taking credit for the success of the Surge (even though it isn't working), because without the Democrat takeover in 2006, the change in strategy wouldn't have occurred, so any credit for the surge (which isn't working, by the way) should go to the Democrats.



A bit of tortured logic, but we shouldn't be surprised by anything that comes from the Left.

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

Friday, December 21, 2007

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and Happy New Year to All

From the High Sierra, wishes to all those unfortunates in the flatlands :) (See more pix here.)




Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: MontereyJohn

Christmas Tag

Ok, Saint Know It All tagged me yesterday (in this comment). Since he's the other Saint in the blogosphere, I suppose I should comply, so here are my responses:

1. Wrapping or gift bags?
It depends. Typically wrapping, but some things just have to be bagged.

2. Real or artificial tree?
Every year our extended family makes a trek to the Pea Ridge tree farm to cut down some live trees. We've been going there since I was an infant and I fondly remember the hot chocolate in the barn on a snowy winter's day. (And Don't let anyone tell you that tree hunting isn't a sport; those trees can be tricky to catch! Just ask this family!). This year, the weather was so bad at the tree farm that we had to settle for one of the pre-cut trees that they had. :-(

3. When do you put up the tree?
Have an argument every year in our household on when to get the tree - Thanksgiving weekend or the first weekend in December. I prefer the latter; since my Mom's birthday is in early December, Christmas decorations didn't normally go up until after her birthday when I was growing up. This year, we didn't cut and put up the tree until the weekend AFTER Thanksgiving weekend - but it was still November!

4. When do you take the tree down?
Depends on how the tree is doing; typically just before New Year's Eve.

5. Do you like eggnog?
When I do buy eggnog, I have a glass or two and then it just sits there. A touch of whiskey doesn't hurt, either.

6. Favorite gift received as a child?
Hmmm... I've repressed so many childhood memories. One year my brother (Brian) and I got Star Wars blasters and had a good time; here are some modern versions. Perhaps my fondest memory was when Santa brought us a puppy. He was delivered in a box (with holes) and I kept saying "that present is moving!!" (However, it's tough to tell whether I actually remember this or just remember my brother and parents telling me about it.)

7. Do you have a nativity scene?
Yes, a large one with figurines that my son likes to play with; he likes to fly the angel around.

8. Worst Christmas gift you ever received?
Ummm, I don't know. There have been plenty of socks, underwear, handkerchiefs, etc over the years.

9. Mail or e-mail Christmas cards?
Mail... I'm in charge of getting the picture that we can put on the card; Wife actually writes the cards and sends 'em out.

10. Favorite Christmas movie?
Probably Blazing Saddles, Blade Runner, or Apocalypse Now. Those aren't Christmas movies? Oh... Um, does the Life of Brian count? Ok, fine - The easy choice is It's a Wonderful Life, so I suppose I'll pick A Christmas Story. It was funny when I first saw it and is still entertaining.

11. When do you start shopping for Christmas?
I do clicks & mortar shopping. Online up until a week out from Christmas and then finish up in the hustle & bustle of Christmas Eve.

12. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas?
Christmas cookies... My mom continues to make the best chocolate chip cookies (with or without nuts), along with a variety of others. Fortunately (or unfortunately for my waistline), my wife's chocolate chip cookies are simply unbelievable.

13. Clear lights or colored on the tree?
Clear on the tree; multi-color on the house.

14. Favorite Christmas song?
Probably The Christmas Song. Not sure "song" is the correct classification, but Handel's Messiah (and especially the Hallelujah chorus) is also my favorite.

Now, to share the love, I tag:

Here are the rules:
  1. Link to the person that tagged you, and post the rules on your blog.
    2. Share Christmas facts about yourself.
  2. Tag random people at the end of your post, and include links to their blogs.
  3. Let each person know that they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

Yet Another Inconvenient Truth - Part 1,771

Previous Truth postings here and general enviro-whacko posts here and here.

It seems that there are plenty of scientist who will actually eschew the faith-based dogma of Global Warming being peddled by Divinity School Dropout Algore.

It seems that some scientists are actually willing to, you know... remain skeptical about proposed theories and wait for data to actually support it:

Scientists doubt climate change
December 21, 2007

By S.A. Miller - More than 400 scientists challenge claims by former Vice President Al Gore and the United Nations about the threat of man-made global warming, a new Senate minority report says.

The scientists — many of whom are current or former members of the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) that shares the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize with Mr. Gore for publicizing a climate crisis — cast doubt on the "scientific consensus" that man-made global warming imperils the planet.

"I find the Doomsday picture Al Gore is painting — a six-meter sea level rise, 15 times the IPCC number — entirely without merit," said Dutch atmospheric scientist Hendrik Tennekes, one of the researchers quoted in the report by Republican staff of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.

"I protest vigorously the idea that the climate reacts like a home heating system to a changed setting of the thermostat: just turn the dial, and the desired temperature will soon be reached," Mr. Tennekes said in the report.

Sen. James M. Inhofe of Oklahoma, ranking Republican on the Environment and Public Works Committee, said the report debunks Mr. Gore's claim that the "debate is over."

"The endless claims of a 'consensus' about man-made global warming grow less-and-less credible every day," he said.

After a quick review of the report, Gore spokeswoman Kalee Kreider said 25 or 30 of the scientists may have received funding from Exxon Mobil Corp.

Exxon Mobil spokesman Gantt H. Walton dismissed the accusation, saying the company is concerned about climate-change issues and does not pay scientists to bash global-warming theories.

"Recycling of that kind of discredited conspiracy theory is nothing more than a distraction from the real challenge facing society and the energy industry," he said. "And that challenge is how are we going to provide the energy needed to support economic and social development while reducing greenhouse-gas emissions."

The Republican report comes on the heels of Saturday's United Nations climate conference in Bali, Indonesia, where conferees adopted a plan to negotiate a new pact to create verifiable measurements to fight global warming in two years.

In the Senate report, environmental scientist David W. Schnare of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said he was skeptical because "conclusions about the cause of the apparent warming stand on the shoulders of incredibly uncertain data and models. ... As a policy matter, one has to be less willing to take extreme actions when data are highly uncertain."

The hundreds of others in the report — climatologists, oceanographers, geologists, glaciologists, physicists and paleoclimatologists — voice varying degrees of criticism of the popular global-warming theory. Their testimony challenges the idea that the climate-change debate is "settled" and runs counter to the claim that the number of skeptical scientists is dwindling.

The report's authors expect some of the scientists will recant their remarks under intense pressure from the public and from within professional circles to conform to the global-warming theory, a committee staffer said.

Several scientists in the report said many colleagues share their skepticism about man-made climate change but don't speak out publicly for fear of retribution, according to the report.

"Many of my colleagues with whom I spoke share these views and report on their inability to publish their skepticism in the scientific or public media," atmospheric scientist Nathan Paldor, professor of Dynamical Meteorology and Physical Oceanography at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, said in the report.

The IPCC has about 2,500 members.

HEATED DEBATE

The following are comments from some of the more than 400 scientists in a Republican report on global warming:

•"Even if the concentration of 'greenhouse gases' double, man would not perceive the temperature impact."

Oleg Sorochtin of the Institute of Oceanology at the Russian Academy of Sciences

•"I find the Doomsday picture Al Gore is painting — a six-meter sea level rise, 15 times the [U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change] number — entirely without merit. ... I protest vigorously the idea that the climate reacts like a home heating system to a changed setting of the thermostat: just turn the dial, and the desired temperature will soon be reached."

Atmospheric scientist Hendrik Tennekes, former research director at the Netherlands' Royal National Meteorological Institute

•"The hypothesis that solar variability and not human activity is warming the oceans goes a long way to explain the puzzling idea that the Earth's surface may be warming while the atmosphere is not. The [greenhouse-gas] hypothesis does not do this. ... The public is not well served by this constant drumbeat of false alarms fed by computer models manipulated by advocates."

David Wojick, expert reviewer for U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change

And the fact that they said that the scientists are funded by the oil & coal industry is just rich... these global warmers are such idiots.

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

Monday, December 17, 2007

Krugman - Tool of the Left

Or perhaps I could just title this one: "Krugman - Tool."

Paul Krugman has completely gone of the deep end. Each column, he makes idiotic statements which are extremely surprising coming from someone who is supposed to be a brilliant economist. This column is no exception:

December 17, 2007
Op-Ed Columnist

Big Table Fantasies
By PAUL KRUGMAN

Broadly speaking, the serious contenders for the Democratic nomination are offering similar policy proposals — the dispute over health care mandates notwithstanding. But there are large differences among the candidates in their beliefs about what it will take to turn a progressive agenda into reality.

At one extreme, Barack Obama insists that the problem with America is that our politics are so “bitter and partisan,” and insists that he can get things done by ushering in a “different kind of politics.”

At the opposite extreme, John Edwards blames the power of the wealthy and corporate interests for our problems, and says, in effect, that America needs another F.D.R. — a polarizing figure, the object of much hatred from the right, who nonetheless succeeded in making big changes.

Over the last few days Mr. Obama and Mr. Edwards have been conducting a long-range argument over health care that gets right to this issue. And I have to say that Mr. Obama comes off looking, well, naïve.
[...]
Mr. Edwards replied, “Some people argue that we’re going to sit at a table with these people and they’re going to voluntarily give their power away. I think it is a complete fantasy; it will never happen.”

This was pretty clearly a swipe at Mr. Obama, who has repeatedly said that health reform should be negotiated at a “big table” that would include insurance companies and drug companies.

On Saturday Mr. Obama responded, this time criticizing Mr. Edwards by name. He declared that “We want to reduce the power of drug companies and insurance companies and so forth, but the notion that they will have no say-so at all in anything is just not realistic.”

Hmm. Do Obama supporters who celebrate his hoped-for ability to bring us together realize that “us” includes the insurance and drug lobbies?

O.K., more seriously, it’s actually Mr. Obama who’s being unrealistic here, believing that the insurance and drug industries — which are, in large part, the cause of our health care problems — will be willing to play a constructive role in health reform. The fact is that there’s no way to reduce the gross wastefulness of our health system without also reducing the profits of the industries that generate the waste.
[...]
I'm sorry, but it's Mr. Krugman who is being completely naïve. If there is so much gross wastefulness in our health system, it's precisely due to government regulation and the cure is the profit motive, not more government regulation. If the drug companies or other healthcare providers had waste which they could actually control and minimize, it would behoove them to eliminate it since that would only mean higher profits (resulting in higher bonuses, stock prices, reinvestment in R&D, and potentially lower prices to attract more customers, etc, etc.)

That Krugman argues that businesses (which presumably operate in a competitive environment) have an incentive to generate waste is simply a ridiculous argument. While I might expect such an argument from some uneducated rube (Lou Dobbs, perhaps?), that it is being made by someone trained in the field of economics either means that Krugman is lying for political, social, or monetary gain or is simply too stupid to retain the designation oof economist.

The fact that theories such as Six Sigma, LEAN Manufacturing, and the on-going pursuit by businesses of strategies to reduce costs while increasing quality demonstrate this fact. Meanwhile, government bureaucracies are typified by mismanagement, waste, lack of innovation, and poor customer service.

As I've stated numerous times here on ARC, the problem with healthcare costs in the US isn't that there's too much free market activity - it's that there is too little. We can see that in other countries where governments are the sole provider (or payer) of health services that the costs for healthcare are growing just as rapidly as here in the US. If we were to remove the fact that much of US spending on healthcare (and especially drugs) subsidizes the rest of the world, the increasing costs would be very similar.

I just don't understand how any economist can reasonably propose that the government, with its army of bureaucrats and antiquated management techniques, can reduce the waste compared to a business with a profit motive.

Perhaps Krugman is merely hoping that Hillary!TM will name him as Secretary of the Treasury... While this column was an attack on Obama (in comparison to Edwards), the clear intended beneficiary of Krugman's comments are Hillary.

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

Friday, December 14, 2007

The French Elite: We Fear Innovation!

Or, how governments harm consumers at the expense of the politically connected.

This little story from the New York Times about booksellers in France is just one example of how governments will rarely take action to protect the consumer, preferring instead to protect the interests of those that are politically connected.

December 12, 2007
Amazon Ordered to End Free Delivery on Books in France
By PETER SAYER, IDG News Service\Paris Bureau, IDG

Amazon.com may not offer free delivery on books in France, the high court in Versailles has ruled.

The action, brought in January 2004 by the French Booksellers' Union (Syndicat de la librairie française), accused Amazon of offering illegal discounts on books and even of selling some books below cost.

The court gave Amazon 10 days to start charging for the delivery of books, which should at least allow the company to maintain the offer through the end-of-year gift-giving season. After that, it must pay a fine of e1,000 (US$1,470) per day that it continues to offer free delivery. It must also pay e100,000 in compensation to the booksellers' union.

Retail prices, particularly of books, are tightly regulated in France.

Using "loss-leaders," or selling products below cost to attract customers, is illegal. Other restrictions apply to books retailers must not offer discounts of more than 5 percent on the publisher's recommended price. Many independent booksellers choose to offer this discount in the form of a loyalty bonus based on previous purchases. Larger booksellers simply slash the sticker price of books.

But the free delivery offered by Amazon exceeded the legal limit in the case of cheaper books, the union charged.

The union said it was pleased with the court's ruling, which would help protect vulnerable small bookshops from predatory pricing practices.
Nevermind that such a ruling simply forces French consumers to subsidize sub-standard bookshops into perpetuity.
Amazon.com did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Earlier this year, the union won a similar legal victory against Alapage.com, an online bookseller with operations in France, Spain and the U.K. The appeals court ruled that Alapage must pay a fine of e50,000 for illegal pricing practices including the offer of free delivery.

It's not been a good month for U.S. e-commerce sites doing business in France: last week, the French auction regulator sued eBay France for breaching rules on the conduct of auctions. The regulator said that eBay's failure to comply exposed consumers to the risk of fraud. In its defense, eBay France maintained that it is not an auctioneer and that it has "invented another way of buying and selling" not covered by the rules.
If only the French would allow the free market to work. Alas, many in this country would probably love to see similar regulation of companies (aka Wal-Mart) in order to "protect the consumer."

As Milton Friedman pointed out in this excellent video from his 1980 series Free to Choose, the free market (through the threat of competition) provides more protection for the consumer than any government can.

I hope the French citizens will enjoy the higher costs of reading. Perhaps this will provide Sarkozy with yet another area of France which requires reform and liberalization.

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Romney Endorsed by National Review

I'm inclined to agree with the Editors at National Review which endorsed Mitt Romney for the GOP nomination. I think it's surprising given the amount of support that they have provided to Giuliani over the past year. Here's an excerpt:

Romney for President
By the Editors

Many conservatives are finding it difficult to pick a presidential candidate. Each of the men running for the Republican nomination has strengths, and none has everything — all the traits, all the positions — we are looking for. Equally conservative analysts can reach, and have reached, different judgments in this matter. There are fine conservatives supporting each of these Republicans.

Our guiding principle has always been to select the most conservative viable candidate. In our judgment, that candidate is Mitt Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts. Unlike some other candidates in the race, Romney is a full-spectrum conservative: a supporter of free-market economics and limited government, moral causes such as the right to life and the preservation of marriage, and a foreign policy based on the national interest. While he has not talked much about the importance of resisting ethnic balkanization — none of the major candidates has — he supports enforcing the immigration laws and opposes amnesty. Those are important steps in the right direction.

Uniting the conservative coalition is not enough to win a presidential election, but it is a prerequisite for building on that coalition. Rudolph Giuliani did extraordinary work as mayor of New York and was inspirational on 9/11. But he and Mike Huckabee would pull apart the coalition from opposite ends: Giuliani alienating the social conservatives, and Huckabee the economic (and foreign-policy) conservatives. A Republican party that abandoned either limited government or moral standards would be much diminished in the service it could give the country.

Two other major candidates would be able to keep the coalition together, but have drawbacks of their own. John McCain is not as conservative as Romney. He sponsored and still champions a campaign-finance law that impinged on fundamental rights of political speech; he voted against the Bush tax cuts; he supported this year’s amnesty bill, although he now says he understands the need to control the border before doing anything else.

[...]

Fred Thompson is as conservative as Romney, and has distinguished himself with serious proposals on Social Security, immigration, and defense. But Thompson has never run any large enterprise — and he has not run his campaign well, either. Conservatives were excited this spring to hear that he might enter the race, but have been disappointed by the reality. He has been fading in crucial early states. He has not yet passed the threshold test of establishing for voters that he truly wants to be president.

Romney is an intelligent, articulate, and accomplished former businessman and governor. At a time when voters yearn for competence and have soured on Washington because too often the Bush administration has not demonstrated it, Romney offers proven executive skill. He has demonstrated it in everything he has done in his professional life, and his tightly organized, disciplined campaign is no exception. He himself has shown impressive focus and energy.
[...]
Some conservatives question his sincerity. It is true that he has reversed some of his positions. But we should be careful not to overstate how much he has changed. In 1994, when he tried to unseat Ted Kennedy, he ran against higher taxes and government-run health care, and for school choice, a balanced budget amendment, welfare reform, and “tougher measures to stop illegal immigration.” He was no Rockefeller Republican even then.

We believe that Romney is a natural ally of social conservatives. He speaks often about the toll of fatherlessness in this country. He may not have thought deeply about the political dimensions of social issues until, as governor, he was confronted with the cutting edge of social liberalism. No other Republican governor had to deal with both human cloning and court-imposed same-sex marriage. He was on the right side of both issues, and those battles seem to have made him see the stakes of a broad range of public-policy issues more clearly. He will work to put abortion on a path to extinction. Whatever the process by which he got to where he is on marriage, judges, and life, we’re glad he is now on our side — and we trust him to stay there.
[...]
More than the other primary candidates, Romney has President Bush’s virtues and avoids his flaws. His moral positions, and his instincts on taxes and foreign policy, are the same. But he is less inclined to federal activism, less tolerant of overspending, better able to defend conservative positions in debate, and more likely to demand performance from his subordinates. A winning combination, by our lights. In this most fluid and unpredictable Republican field, we vote for Mitt Romney.
I too was attracted to the thought of Thompson, but "Lazy Like a Fox" may be more descriptive of his work ethic than some "OODA-loop" campaign strategy (the "A" in OODA standing for Act and there hasn't been much action by the Thompson campaign).

McCain had his shot in 2000 but thought his constituency was the press corp riding along in his bus and not the voters. His stalwart positions on the War On Terror are admirable, but his positions on Campaign Finance and Illegal Immigration are inexcusable. We called his candidacy doomed in May of this year.

I also am attracted to Huckabee and think he would fare well against Hillary!TM or Obama. He certainly has excellent debating skills - similar to those of a Baptist preacher. However, his gut instinct on economics is protectionism and that is the last thing that our economy needs in the 21st century. Protectionism is an easy philosophy to push, since few in the electorate understand the true implications of such policies. Standing up for free trade and continuing to eradicate trade barriers (which still exist in the US) is desperately needed - not the opposite. Similarly, Huckabee's penchant for using the government to "do good" are a cause for concern - especially to those of us who've bit our tongues during W's presidency. His "F" rating from the Cato institute on Spending and Tax policies certainly does not impress me. (Perhaps we could get Matt Blunt (R-MO, A-Rating) to run?)

As NR points out, there isn't a perfect conservative in the field... However, the past two GOP Presidents have been far from perfect. While W was unabashed about "compassionate conservatism" during the 2000 campaign, we were reassured that this meant that Bush would demonstrate that conservatism (specifically free market principles) is more compassionate than government intervention - especially when one looks to the results. While W. made attempts in this regard with his tax cuts, the possibility of vouchers through No Child Left Behind, and the ownership society, his continually expansive government spending have been anything but conservative. From prescription drugs to the ballooning of Federal funds in education, W. has been anything but conservative.

Mike Huckabee would be a continuation (or perhaps an expansion) of this trend kicked off by Bush. Giuliani would most likely begin the reversal of that trend and remain vigilant in the War On Terror. But NR is right to point out that many social conservatives would not show up to support Giuliani, especially with the likely retirement of one or more Supreme Court Justices on the horizon.

The only concern that I have with a Romney nomination is his Mormon faith - specifically how it would be received by conservative evangelical voters. I'm also concerned with how the MSM and bloggers will cover Mormonism and how the Democratic nominee will use it in 527 ads in key districts. Romney has started to address those concerns, but there is plenty of work left for him to do in this regard.

Iowa and New Hampshire certainly will be interesting!

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

Holiday Greetings

To All My Democrat Friends:

Please accept with no obligation, implied or implicit, my best wishes for an environmentally conscious, socially responsible, low-stress, non-addictive, gender-neutral celebration of the winter solstice holiday, practiced within the most enjoyable traditions of the religious persuasion of your choice, or secular practices of your choice, with respect for the religious/secular persuasion and/or traditions of others, or their choice not to practice religious or secular traditions at all. I also wish you a fiscally successful, personally fulfilling and medically uncomplicated recognition of the onset of the generally accepted calendar year 2007, but not without due respect for the calendars of choice of other cultures whose contributions to society have helped make America great. Not to imply that America is necessarily greater than any other country nor the only America in the Western Hemisphere. Also, this wish is made without regard to the race, creed, color, age, physical ability, religious faith or sexual preference of the wishee.


To My Republican Friends:
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!


Thanks and a hat tip to my buddy Desert Rat.


Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: MontereyJohn

On Waterboarding

From today's Wall Street Journal comes this excellent analysis regarding the fact that the Congressional Dems (who now have their panties in a bind) actually encouraged the use of waterboarding throughout some 30 briefings. (Subscription required)

Waterboarding: Congress Knew
December 11, 2007; Page A26
[...]
Porter Goss, the former chair of the House Intelligence Committee who later served as CIA director from 2004 to 2006 is explicit about what happened in these meetings: "Among those being briefed, there was a pretty full understanding of what the CIA was doing. And the reaction in the room was not just approval, but encouragement."

In all, the CIA provided Congress with some 30 briefings on waterboarding before it became a public issue.

Why would the CIA want to tell the most senior members of Congress about anything so sensitive? No doubt in part because senior officials at the CIA, not to mention the interrogators themselves, assuredly did not want to begin any such policy absent closing the political and legal loop on it.

The Congressional briefings touched the political base, and a Justice Department memo at that time deemed the interrogation methods legal. Most crucially, bear in mind that when pressed about all this at his confirmation hearings, Attorney General Michael Mukasey pointedly said he would not make a post-facto condemnation of the techniques, thereby putting the "freedom" of the interrogators at risk, "simply because I want to be congenial."

At the time, we wrote that this was a sign of Judge Mukasey's character. That word would not spring to mind in describing what the Post's account says about Congress.

One certainly may hold as abhorrent the idea of aggressively interrogating any terrorists ever, either for fear of what they might do to our people, as John McCain does, or because one thinks this violates our values. What one may not do -- at least not if one wants the system to function -- is assent to such a policy in 2002 and then, when the policy is made public, put up the pretense that one is "shocked" and appalled to learn of it.

This is bad faith. Worse, it risks setting in motion the ruin or eventual criminal prosecution of CIA employees who in 2002 did what the Bush Administration, Congress and indeed the nation wanted them to do to protect the American people from another September 11.

It has been widely reported by now that waterboarding was used on only three individuals -- Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who planned the airliner attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon; Abu Zebaydah, an Osama bin Laden confidante captured in Pakistan 2002 and described as a director of al-Qaeda operations; and a third unidentified person. If Speaker Pelosi and her colleagues want the handling of such terrorists conformed to what they call "our values," then she should define that and put it in an explicit piece of legislation. Then let the Members vote yea or nay, in public, on the record.

But don't sign off on such a sensitive policy at a moment when the nation's "values" support it, then later feign revulsion when you can't take the heat from the loudest in your political constituency. There was a time when politics at least assumed more backbone than that.
Now,
One thing consistent about the Dems, the MSM, and the Nutroots is that they will always act in bad faith, driven by their derangement over W's very existence.

But, one reason for this is the fact that no one appears to be willing to actually consider whether water boarding is torture. I wrote back in 2005 that the 6 CIA interrogation techniques (which had recently been brought to light) could hardly be described as "torture" - especially not when the use of the worst techniques like water boarding were reserved for only the highest value illegal combatants. As I wrote back then:
[...]
"They would not let you rest, day or night. Stand up, sit down, stand up, sit down. Don't sleep. Don't lie on the floor," one prisoner said through a translator. The detainees were also forced to listen to rap artist Eminem's "Slim Shady" album. The music was so foreign to them it made them frantic, sources said.
This is terrible... no one should be forced to listen to such noise. Of course, this may be the claims of a terrorist prisoner or that of a raver on ecstasy from Aurora, Illinois - who can be sure?
[...]
The CIA sources described a list of six "Enhanced Interrogation Techniques" instituted in mid-March 2002 and used, they said, on a dozen top al Qaeda targets incarcerated in isolation at secret locations on military bases in regions from Asia to Eastern Europe. According to the sources, only a handful of CIA interrogators are trained and authorized to use the techniques:
1. The Attention Grab: The interrogator forcefully grabs the shirt front of the prisoner and shakes him.
holy cow!!! they're shaking a guy and touching his clothing!! l'horreur!!! l'horreur!!!
2. Attention Slap: An open-handed slap aimed at causing pain and triggering fear.
I believe this is referred to as a "b!tch slap" and is common among 6th graders.
3. The Belly Slap: A hard open-handed slap to the stomach. The aim is to cause pain, but not internal injury. Doctors consulted advised against using a punch, which could cause lasting internal damage.
It's a good thing they're not using a closed fist... just a slap to the abdomen. I bet it leaves a red mark - kind of like when you do a big belly flop into a pool??
4. Long Time Standing: This technique is described as among the most effective. Prisoners are forced to stand, handcuffed and with their feet shackled to an eye bolt in the floor for more than 40 hours. Exhaustion and sleep deprivation are effective in yielding confessions.
Prisoners are forced to stand in a single spot? Yes, 40 hours seems like a long time and this is probably excruciating... but, so is dying from ball-bearings and bone fragments flying through your body after an explosion.
5. The Cold Cell: The prisoner is left to stand naked in a cell kept near 50 degrees. Throughout the time in the cell the prisoner is doused with cold water.
Sounds like a weekend at my house, frankly... Wife can sometimes go overboard...
6. Water Boarding: The prisoner is bound to an inclined board, feet raised and head slightly below the feet. Cellophane is wrapped over the prisoner's face and water is poured over him. Unavoidably, the gag reflex kicks in and a terrifying fear of drowning leads to almost instant pleas to bring the treatment to a halt.
Ok, this one sounds pretty bad... No doubt college fraternities are taking notes for their next hazing ritual.

Of all of the techniques described above, the water-boarding sounds like it's the worse... woops, forgot about the Eminem.... nah, I would still prefer Slim Shady over waterboarding.

But seriously folks... when the Dems and the Media talk about torture, images of much worse come to mind. I know I normally have visions of car batteries... fingernails being pulled off, etc. And it's important to note that these techniques have only been used on 12 - count them, 12 - of Al Qaeda's top leadership. These are not employed for your average terrorist caught in the field. The fact that most of these techniques are rather milquetoast (shirt grabbing?!?!) and authorized only for the top leaderhsip makes me question our seriousness when interrogating prisoners.
And, I think it's also important to point out the actual designation of terrorists as illegal combatants. I firmly believe that when a combatant is not abiding by the rules contained in the Geneva Convention regarding on how to be considered a legal combatant (who is therefore granted the legal protections provided in the Convention), then they should be handled as illegal combatants and need not be provided the protections that the Geneva Convention requires.

An illegal combatant in World War II (e.g., someone who donned civilian clothes and then attacked) could be summarily shot.

Yes, a Geneva Protocol was created in the late '70s to provide protections to illegal combatants, but it is not part of the Convention. It is still a Protocol and the US has never signed up to its language. (Jimmy Carter had some sense after all!)

Any protections we extend to terrorists are only because we are more humane and more compassionate than we are required to be.

We don't torture our captives because it is against our nature. Of the "enhanced interrogation techniques" described above, only waterboarding approaches the line where a technique could be considered torture. Whether it is or not can be debated...

The fact that Congress was aware and supportive of such techniques throughout 30 briefings either removes their ability to criticize the practice or condemns them along with the Bush administration.

Which is it?

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Solar's Alright

But Nukes Do It All Night

Finally, some sanity and rational discussion on energy. From Wired Magazine:

Former 'No Nukes' Protester: Stop Worrying and Love Nuclear Power
By John Borland Email 12.07.07 | 12:00 AM

The only way to rescue our plug-hungry planet from catastrophic global warming is to embrace nuclear power, and fast.

That's the argument of Gwyneth Cravens, a novelist, journalist and former nuke protester. Her new book, Power to Save the World: The Truth About Nuclear Energy, is a passionate plea to understand, instead of fear, atomic power. In her book, Cravens is guided Dante-like through the entire life cycle of nuclear power -- from mining to production to waste disposal -- by one of the world's foremost experts on risk assessment and nuclear waste.

Her conclusion? Every day spent burning coal for power translates into damaged lungs and ecosystem destruction. If the world wants to keep plugging in big-screen TVs and iPods, it needs a steady source of power. Wind and solar can't produce the "base-load" (or everyday) steady supply needed, and the only realistic -- and safe -- alternative is nuclear.

Wired News talked with Cravens on the phone from her home in New York.

Wired News: You don't argue that nuclear power is entirely safe, but that it's vastly better than coal and fossil fuels. Do we have to choose between them?

Gwyneth Cravens: I used to think we surely could do better. We could have more wind farms and solar. But I then learned about base-load energy, and that there are three forms of it: fossil fuels, hydro and nuclear. In the United States, we're maxed out on hydro. That leaves fossil fuels and nuclear power, and most of the fossil fuel burned is coal.

Wow! Someone finally recognizes that we'd have to blanket the entire country with wind and solar farms to power a hair dryer.
In the U.S., 24,000 people a year die from coal pollution. Hundreds of thousands more people suffer from lung and heart disease directly attributable to coal pollution.

WN: That's opposed to a minuscule number of people who have been directly harmed by nuclear power?

Cravens: It's zero in the United States. Of course there is the occasional industrial accident amongst the workers. But over the lifetime cycle of nuclear power, if you go cradle-to-grave with uranium, the total carbon emissions are about those of wind power.

WN: You have an interesting statistic comparing the waste levels produced by individuals over a lifetime.

Cravens: A family in four in France, where they reprocess nuclear fuel, would produce only enough waste to fit in a coffee cup over a whole lifetime. A lifetime of getting all your electricity from coal-fired plants would make a single person's share of solid waste (in the United States) 68 tons, which would require six 12-ton railroad cars to haul away. Your share of CO2 would be 77 tons.

WN: What about clean coal plants, and carbon-sequestration technologies? Aren't they a practical alternative?

Cravens: At this point, no. There's one prototype in Colorado that the government is trying to sponsor. From a practical point of view, I think nuclear plants could be up and running and replacing fossil-fuel plants sooner than we get clean coal.

WN: People still fear Chernobyl and Three Mile Island. You say neither of these catastrophic events was as harmful as widely believed.

Cravens: Chernobyl's reactor had no containment building. If they had had that reactor in a containment dome, we wouldn't be talking about it the way we are. But there was a radioactive release, and people were affected. So far about 60 people have died, most of them -- almost all of them -- from immediate exposure when they were fighting the fire in the reactor, and the emergency workers. Nine children, unfortunately, developed thyroid cancer that was not treated.

We had a Chernobyl in the United States, it was called Three Mile Island. But you have to look at risk and benefit, and you have to do comparisons. Three Mile Island really scared people, partly because it was so badly bungled by nuclear industry and regulatory commissions. The psychological effects were real, but in a dozen independent studies, no health effects have been found as a result of the Three Mile Island event.

Radiation was never a risk at Three Mile Island. People in New Mexico, every day of their lives, get from nature maybe 100 or 300 times more exposure than citizens around Three Mile Island got during that event.

WN: Along with engineering failures -- the lack of a containment building is stunning -- Chernobyl and Three Mile Island both stemmed from what in retrospect were very stupid operator decisions. Can we ever avoid that kind of human error?

Cravens: The nuclear navy has operated more than 250 reactors since the 1950s, and they have never had an incident involving a release from a reactor. This is because (naval nuclear chief Adm. Hyman) Rickover ensured that every individual was considered accountable.

When Three Mile Island happened, and there was a commission held to investigate why it happened, Rickover basically said you need to do things the way we do in the nuclear navy. The nuclear utilities and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission took that advice to heart.

If you just leave a reactor alone, it will shut itself down. If a reactor doesn't have enough water, it will shut itself down. Humans probably do make mistakes, but they have tried to make these reactors as human-proof as possible, and I think everyone has learned from Three Mile Island.

WN: Waste, both transporting it and storing it, remains extraordinarily controversial. Some will remain radioactive for tens or hundreds of thousands of years. You say you're not worried. Why not?

Cravens: First of all, it's small in volume. Uranium is dense, so the waste is dense. The waste from one average reactor, the spent fuel, per year could fit in the back of a standard pickup truck. This small volume of nuclear waste is always shielded, always isolated, transported in thick casks. Radiation is stopped by a few inches of steel and concrete and water and so on.

WN: But people still worry about having it stored next to them. Critics say Yucca Mountain (the planned nuclear-waste facility in Nevada) isn't safe enough.

Cravens: I'm quite satisfied about Yucca Mountain. They have worked not only on putting it deep inside the mountain, a thousand feet below the top of the mountain, and a thousand feet above the water table; they are putting it inside steel casks. It's just really going to remain where it is. They've calculated out the risks.
[...]

It's good to see that facts can trump the incoherence of the No Nukes crowd. Let's just hope that there are enough brain cells in the Green movement to recognize that it's time to move on expanding nuclear energy in the US. I doubt many of them would be willing to look and investigate the facts regarding nuclear energy the way that Cravens did.

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

On the Mormon Thing

Jonah Goldberg weighs in on the Mitt Romney speech. Here is an excerpt of Jonah's perspective, but recommend that you read the whole thing:

[...]
Irving Kristol has cited the fight over Utah's statehood as a quintessential expression of how America practices theological pluralism while insisting on moral conformity. It is the American way to care about what people do, not about what they think. Every religion's theology has some wacky stuff in it, not only from the atheist's perspective but from the perspective of pretty much every other religion. Muslims were indeed mortified by the spectacle).

I have liberal Jewish friends who are sometimes flummoxed as to how I could hang out, ideologically or personally, with "Christian fundamentalists." My short answer is: Have you ever met any? I may not want some of them planning my next trip to Vegas, but the ones I've met couldn't be nicer or more polite.

And the same goes for Mormons. Yes, I think there's some weird stuff in Mormonism, but they might say "Same to you!" about Jews. Still, all of the Mormons I've met have been serious, kind and morally upstanding. Republicans might also note that Mormons are among the most reliably conservative senators and congressman.

I think the objections to Mormon theology are often sound. But I think there are sound objections to pretty much every theology. It's a good thing for Romney that while theology isn't relevant to picking a president, morality is.

Romney is lucky that Mormonism doesn't have a bunch of whackos threatening to behead seemingly anyone who might offend the religion - or dare to leave it like this young Brit whose father is trying to find her so he can kill her. And, Islam Means PeaceTM is accurate like dalling someone "phat" means someone is obese. In reality, Islam means submission and if we must recognize that such a religion (in the extreme) means not a dual, co-existence of religious and political life, but complete submission of all human activity.

With regard to Mormonism, I'm not that hung up on it. Each and every Mormon that I've ever met (and I've had several friends who are adherents of the Mormon faith) have been decent and fun people. Sure, I don't agree with anything in the Book of Mormon nor many of the tenets of the Mormon Church. But, that has little bearing on whether Romney will be an effective President.

However, there is a segment of evangelicals who view it as a cult and it's unlikely that Mitt's speech will bring them to vote for him. Whether they do vote for anyone or whether endorsements from "leaders" in the evangelical community will overcome this objection, I don't know. I would hope that they'd recognize Jonah's points that actions are more important than one's beliefs.

Perhaps Romeny could promise that the Mormon Tabernacle Choir would perform at the Inauguration.... Or perhaps he could get Donny & Marie to join him on the campaign. Then again, that might not be a good idea.



Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Yet Another Inconvenient Truth - Part 1,770

Previous Inconvenient Truths here



Excellent article by Roy Innis over at Townhall regarding the structural difficulties associated with "Alternative" energy.

The Truth About "Alternative Energy"
By Roy Innis
Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Every week brings new claims that clean, free, inexhaustible renewable energy will soon replace the “dirty” fuels that sustain our economy today. A healthy dose of reality is needed.

Over half of our electricity comes from coal. Gas and nuclear generate 36% of our electricity. Barely 1% comes from wind and solar. Coal-generated power typically costs less per kilowatt hour than alternatives – leaving families with more money for food, housing, transportation and healthcare.

By 2020, the United States will need 100,000 megawatts of new electricity, say EIA, industry and utility company analysts. Unreliable wind power simply cannot meet these demands.

Wind farms require subsidies and vast stretches of land. To meet New York City’s electricity needs alone would require blanketing the entire state of Connecticut with towering turbines, according to Rockefeller University Professor Jesse Ausubel. They kill raptors and other birds, and must be backed up by expensive coal or gas power plants that mostly sit idle – but kick in whenever the wind dies down, so factories, schools, offices and homes don’t shut down.

On a scale sufficient to meet the electricity needs of a modern society, wind power is just not sustainable.

For three decades, US demand for natural gas has outpaced production. In fact, gas prices have tripled since 1998, to $13 per thousand cubic feet today, and every $1 increase costs US consumers an additional $22 billion a year.

With Congress and states locking up more gas prospects every year, this trend is likely to continue – further driving up prices and forcing us to import increasing amounts of expensive liquefied natural gas, often from less than friendly nations.
[ed - Buy XTO!!!]

We simply cannot afford to halt the construction of new coal-fired power plants, though some are trying to do exactly that.

Chesapeake Energy Corp. masterminded and bankrolled anti-coal initiatives in Oklahoma, Kansas and Texas. The scheme was intended to drive up the price of natural gas, and thus profits, by making coal less available and more expensive – with little regard for poor families.
Ahhh, it's great to see the effects of big business and politicians joining hands to make things better.... for the children. If only we had a free market economy.
As Kansas discovered after its environmental chief blocked a proposed new coal generator, coal projects also come with transmission lines to carry intermittent wind-generated electricity and more reliable coal-generated power. Wind farms typically do not. Now a dozen Kansas wind projects are also on hold.

Former Clinton Administration environment staffer Katy McGinty engineered the lockup of 7 billion tons of low sulfur Utah coal, worth $1 trillion. Current and proposed air and water quality rules would make it even more difficult and expensive to provide adequate coal-fired electricity. But the facts support more coal use, not less.

Power plants fueled by coal are far less polluting than 30 years ago. Just since 1998, their annual sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide emissions have declined another 28% and 43% respectively, according to air quality expert Joel Schwartz – and new rules will eliminate most remaining emissions by 2015.

Coal-fired power plants are now the primary source of US mercury emissions only because the major sources (incinerating wastes and processing ores containing mercury) have been eliminated. US mercury emissions are now down 82% since the early 1980s; America accounts for only 2% of all global mercury emissions; 55% of global emissions come from volcanoes, oceans and forest fires; and two-thirds of mercury deposition in America comes from other countries, Schwartz adds. (Compact fluorescent lightbulbs or CFLs could become a more serious potential source of mercury than power plants.) Nevertheless, new EPA rules require a further 70% reduction in mercury from power plants by 2015.

That leaves carbon dioxide and catastrophic climate change as rationales for opposing coal. The latest UN-IPCC report again reduces projections for future temperature increases, polar melting and sea level rise. Moreover, increasing scientific evidence suggests only slight warming, climate change controlled primarily by solar cycles, and no storm, drought or sea level trends that exceed historical experience.

Yet, claims about imminent catastrophes have become increasingly hysterical, as a prelude to international climate negotiations in Bali.

The inconvenient truth is that these climate chaos horror stories are based almost entirely on computer models and digital disaster scenarios. They are no more real than the raptors in “Jurassic Park.”

Nevertheless, politicians are promoting initiatives like the Lieberman-Warner bill and Midwestern Governors Association climate pact, which they say will prevent a cataclysm, by slashing CO2 emissions by 60-80% and generating “thousands of megawatts” from wind energy.

If these initiatives become law, experts say electricity rates would soar another 50% by 2012. Labor unions predict millions of lost jobs, as companies shift operations to foreign countries.
Don't worry, Roy... The Congress will pass a law that will make it illegal for any company to move its operations overseas.
Preeminent alarmists Al Gore and Hillary Clinton emit more CO2 in a week from the private jets they take to campaign, lecture and fund-raising events, than the average American does in a year. And yet they’re demanding a wholesale “transformation” of our economy and living standards.

Mrs. Clinton says she is switching to CFLs, to save a few kilowatts, which brings us full circle on the mercury issue. Mr. Gore justifies his emissions by noting that he gets “carbon offset” indulgences from his company.

China and other rapidly developing countries will build 1,000 new coal plants during the next five years – with few of the pollution controls that we require. That means even major sacrifices by American workers and families won’t affect global temperatures, even if CO2 is the primary cause of global warming – which numerous scientists say is not the case.

And, you know where all of the emissions from China's high-sulfur coal end up, right? It takes just 5 days for the pollutants to hit the US.
We need every energy resource: oil, gas, coal, hydroelectric, nuclear – and wind, solar and geothermal.

We cannot replace 52% of our electricity (the coal-based portion) with technologies that currently provide only 1% of that power (mainly wind). Wind is a supplement, not an alternative.

We cannot generate electricity with hot air from politicians eager to create tax breaks, subsidies and “renewable energy mandates” for companies that produce alternative energy technologies – in exchange for campaign contributions from those companies.

We cannot afford to trash the energy we have, and substitute energy that exists only in campaign speeches and legislative decrees.

Poor and minority families can least afford such “energy policies.”

I have little hope for any rational discussion regarding the environment or our energy needs. We've already seen that the focus of the Moonbats is to reduce our consumption through No Impact lifestyles and sterilization, which will only result in shorter lifespans, a deteriorating quality of life, and fewer of us.

Me? I propose that we start building some nuclear plants (and/or restart to study the possibility of power through fusion). If you're so hung up on reducing emissions, nuclear is the best option.

As the saying goes, Solar's all right, but Nukes do it all night!

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

Monday, December 03, 2007

Sub-prime Mess

Interesting article in today's WSJ and you should read the whole thing... (Paul Krugman took the opportunity to blog on this article and then reference post by a Moonbat blogger called Atrios, further damaging his credibility outside of the Manhattan bubble.)

But, here's a snippet that I'd like to analyze:

Subprime Debacle Traps Even Very Credit-Worthy As Housing Boomed, Industry Pushed Loans To a Broader Market
By RICK BROOKS and RUTH SIMON
December 3, 2007; Page A1

One common assumption about the subprime mortgage crisis is that it revolves around borrowers with sketchy credit who couldn't have bought a home without paying punitively high interest rates. But it turns out that plenty of people with seemingly good credit are also caught in the subprime trap.

An analysis for The Wall Street Journal of more than $2.5 trillion in subprime loans made since 2000 shows that as the number of subprime loans mushroomed, an increasing proportion of them went to people with credit scores high enough to often qualify for conventional loans with far better terms.
[...]
The surprisingly high number of subprime loans among more credit-worthy borrowers shows how far such mortgages have spread into the economy -- including middle-class and wealthy communities where they once were scarce. They also affirm that thousands of borrowers took out loans -- perhaps foolishly -- with little or no documentation, or no down payment, or without the income to qualify for a conventional loan of the size they wanted.

The analysis also raises pointed questions about the practices of major mortgage lenders. Many borrowers whose credit scores might have qualified them for more conventional loans say they were pushed into risky subprime loans. They say lenders or brokers aggressively marketed the loans, offering easier and faster approvals -- and playing down or hiding the onerous price paid over the long haul in higher interest rates or stricter repayment terms.
[...]

The article continues and provides additional information about how these credit-worthy borrowers ended up with sub-prime loans. I point to the following two causes:
  1. Average person in the US doesn't understand finance, interest rates, mortgages, etc thanks to a sub-par education system.
  2. Many people were enticed into the sub-prime, "state your income", interest only loans primarily because they viewed the risk of an increasing interest rate as minimal when compared to the rate of return on the increasing value of their home.
As someone who's gone through the mortgage process four times in the past 10 years (2 new loans, 1 re-fi, and 1 home equity), I have to say that it increasingly involved questions from lenders as to whether I preferred to simply state my income or whether I wanted to fill out a lengthy form. I was asked several times whether I would like an interest-only loan, a higher Loan-To-Value ratio, or something less "boring." Of the 4 loans that I've taken out, only one was a 5 year ARM (fixed for 5) with a cap on the interest rate over the life of the loan. And, since the home we were living in was well within our means, even the highest interest rate possible after 10 years would have been possible for us. Add to this the fact that we knew we would probably move within a few years and we made out like bandits.

I compare my experience with the final paragraphs of the story:
[...]
Often such loans involve fraud, says Peter Fredman, a California attorney who has two clients who wound up with loans with high interest rates despite good credit scores. "Because these people had decent credit scores, the lenders said they would do a 100% no-documentation loan and that opened the door for mortgage brokers to do whatever they wanted to do," he says.

Mr. Fredman is representing a couple in their sixties with a monthly income of less than $2,500 but mortgage payments of roughly $3,400, not including taxes and insurance. The husband and wife, first-time home buyers with credit scores of 680 and 667, expected payments of $1,500 a month. They tried refinancing to lower the cost, to little effect. They haven't made a mortgage payment since January.
I assume that their expected $1,500 per month is not including taxes or insurance, but regardless: someone with a combined total income of less than $2,500 per month should not be taking on a monthly mortgage payment of $1,500!

That leaves them very little for food, clothing, transportation, etc. That this was their expected payment shows that they are not responsible borrowers. Some quick math (using an estimated 6-7% interest rate and the $1500/month payment) shows that the minimum value of the house they bought was anywhere from $225 - $250k if they had a conventional, 30 year loan. The fact that they opted for one of the "teaser" loans (with what they thought would be a $1500/month payment) suggests that the house was probably valued higher than that!

Someone with a combined annual income of less than $30,000 should not be getting a mortgage on a house valued at more than $250k. Just saying...

Perhaps Congress can make the inability to budget or understand basic finance illegal. Just package it as being "for the children" and I'm sure it'll fly through.

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler