Archive for December, 2009
December 17th, 2009 at 11:33 am
Prosecutions Possible Amid Climategate Revelations

A hat tip to James Delingpole of The Daily Telegraph (UK) is in order for his continuing coverage of the metastasizing Climategate controversy. The Russians are now weighing in with charges that global warming alarmists used only 25% of data reported by Russian scientists; intentionally leaving out information showing no signs of warming. Much of this doctored research was in turn folded into the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) report, the definitive statement supporting the calls for international regulation of energy consumption. (For a counter-argument using all the available climate data, see this report published by the Heartland Institute.) With the Copenhagen climate conference degenerating into anarchy and finger-pointing soon there may be another appellation added to “discredited” and “fraudulent”: convicted.

As Lord Christopher Monkton explains in this interview, he and another climate skeptic are requesting prosecution of the researchers responsible for destroying information sought through Britain’s version of the Freedom of Information Act. Others are calling for investigations into whether there is a case for criminal fraud against scientists using government grants to produce misleading reports. Many of the people who’ve profited from this scurrilous research are present or arriving in Copenhagen. When looking back on the group photos a few years from now, one wonders how many of them will be behind bars, owing millions in damages, or drummed out of office. Most likely, not enough.

December 17th, 2009 at 10:36 am
CBO: Cap-and-Trade Will Cost Taxpayers
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The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) forecasts that current climate change legislation in the Senate will increase spending by $833 billion.

According to the budget office, not only would Cap-and-Trade legislation effectively tax and regulate all carbon emissions in the country, but it would also add $854 billion to federal coffers.

The cost estimate concluded, “CBO estimates that the annual cost of [cap-and-trade] would amount to tens of billions of dollars for private-sector entities and hundreds of millions of dollars for public entities… Public and private entities would also be required to report information on greenhouse gases to a federal registry.”

In short, the bill is an unmitigated disaster and must be defeated.

Click here for the CBO study.  More of CFIF on climate change here and here.

December 17th, 2009 at 8:51 am
Morning Links
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Sen. Tom CoburnThe Health Bill is Scary
National Review OnlineThe Value-Added Tax
PoliticoGary Johnson as the Next Ron Paul?
Howard DeanSenate Bill Wouldn’t Bring Real Reform

Michael BaroneDems Head for the Exits
George WillWhen the Charm Rubs Off
Pittsburgh Post-GazetteCongress Raises Debt Ceiling
The HillHouse Passes Pelosi’s $174 Billion Jobs Bill

Federal Debt: $12.130 trillion

December 16th, 2009 at 4:55 pm
If It Sounds Too Good to be True, It’s Probably a Sales Pitch from Dubai

It turns out money can buy neither happiness nor certainty.  As information continues to leak out about the desert kingdom’s financial mirage, the overleveraged city state of Dubai is proving to be an object lesson in the importance of free markets.  In about five years’ time the second largest member of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) went from off the map to the center of attention for the world’s glitterati.  In the face of opulence, many disregarded obvious contradictions.

Neo-conservatives were willing to overlook its dictatorial government on the grounds that it promoted an alternative to political Islam.”

Also overlooked were the inhumane conditions inflicted on the hundreds of thousands of foreign workers, most from India and Pakistan, imported to construct the place to awe-inspiring effect. Nature was stage-managed at great expense, both financial and environmental: lush golf courses in the desert; a ski hill inside the world’s biggest shopping mall; sand rearranged on offshore islands that replicated a map of the world (with Israel notably absent). No expense was spared to bring celebrities to burnish the Dubai brand—among them Tiger Woods, Roger Federer, and Clinton. Dubai proposed a new oxymoronic economic model: state-owned capitalism. It was a trade-off: personal freedom for the promise of the best “quality of life on the planet,” like George Orwell’s 1984 with Gucci, McDonald’s, and a happy ending.

Yet, the end to Dubai’s financial crisis is far from happy; especially if negotiations with other UAE members stall, and Dubai seeks a bailout – and closer ties with – Iran.  Like security, many people (and nations) will trade their freedom for “guaranteed” prosperity.  Let’s hope that in the wake of Iran’s latest missile test-firing Dubai doesn’t increase the Islamic Republic’s sphere of influence any further down the Arabian Peninsula.

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December 16th, 2009 at 3:50 pm
How You Too Can Cash In on Global Warming Alarmism

Cold weather got you down?  Is your child distraught and having trouble sleeping because of the government’s global warming scare tactics? 

Watch the clever video below, put together by our friends at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, and learn how you too can cash in on global warming alarmism.


December 16th, 2009 at 3:03 pm
Update: Senate v. Tom Coburn
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The Senate can be a magical place sometimes. Taking advantage of a clever procedural tool, Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) has forced the upper chamber to read a 767-page amendment out loud.  (One has to feel sorry for the people reading the amendment.)

Senator Bernie Sanders (Socialist-VT) introduced his single-payer amendment to the health care bill but Senators DeMint (R-SC) and Coburn put their foot down.  They are now using all available procedural tactics to kill the bill, even if they have to kill the voice of a few Senate staffers in the process (a worthy sacrifice).

Senator Coburn commented, “We’re going to understand what single-payer is all about and read the bill.”

If you’d like to understand more about socialist health care, click here or here.  More of CFIF on health care here.


Senator Coburn did battle once again with Senator Max Baucus (D-MT) and the exchange was priceless.  Senator Coburn asked that Senators fully read and understand the bill before they voted.

Senator Baucus, we’ll say, was less than optimistic about the comprehension level of his colleagues. The video (one minute mark) displays our nation’s sad state of affairs.

December 16th, 2009 at 2:43 pm
Rubio, Williams Could Make Red States Scarlet

Even though there isn’t much hope of Republicans winning a majority in the U.S. Senate after the 2010 election, President Obama may have a few new conservative voices critiquing his administration. Of the four Republican candidates endorsed by the Senatorial Conservative Fund, the two most likely to get elected are running to replace moderate members of the GOP. But while replacing Kay Bailey Hutchison with Michael Williams would be an improvement for Texas conservatives looking for a more aggressive advocate, that scenario pales in comparison to the starkly different paths confronting Florida’s Republican primary voters.

In that race former Florida house speaker and Tea Party darling Marco Rubio just pulled even with Charlie Crist, the current Republican governor and a closet liberal. CFIF has previously covered the National Republican Senatorial Committee’s decision not to endorse in contested primaries. Now, it looks like that decision, coupled with Rubio’s successful linkage of Crist to Obama, is hurting the once front-running Crist. After Doug Hoffman’s narrow loss in the New York 23rd congressional special election, many pundits opined that conservatives like Rubio would be persona non grata in the GOP. Like everything else coming out of Washington these days, the “experts” were wrong about what Americans want.

December 16th, 2009 at 8:47 am
Morning Links
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December 15th, 2009 at 1:40 pm
“Arnold the Barbarian”
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barbaric:   (1) Of, relating to, or characteristic of barbarians.   (2) Crude or unrestrained in taste, style, or behavior.

Perhaps California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is simply desperate to retain some element of his fading spotlight as he drifts toward political retirement?  After all, we live in the age of reality TV, in which even self-embarrassment such as White House party-crashing is an acceptable price for publicity.

Sadly, that possibility would be preferable to the possibility that he’s simply lost what remained of his intellectual bearing.

Appearing today on ABC’s Good Morning, America, Schwarzenegger attempted to outdo even the Obama White House on the topic of climate change absurdity.  Even though he has presided over California as it has hemorrhaged jobs and descended to economic basket-case status, partly due to costly state environmental policies, he denied any contradiction between the global warming agenda and economic prosperity, saying, “we in California have proven it over and over that you can protect the economy, and you can protect the environment.  I don’t think you have to choose.  I think it is nonsense talk to say ‘let’s talk first about the economy.'”

Apparently oblivious to the Climategate scandal surrounding the global warming activists at Britain’s University of East Anglia, he went so far as to say that on the issue of global warming, we should “pay more attention to the universities.”  And ignoring California’s catastrophic loss of jobs to surrounding business-friendly states, Schwarzenegger continued, “in California, the biggest job creation is in green technology, we have seen an increase there of over 36%, we have been increasing the amount of jobs in all those different areas.”

Perhaps most preposterously, the man who played Conan the Barbarian had the audacity to label anyone who rightfully questions man-made global warming hysteria as “still living in the Stone Age.”

No, Governor Schwarzenegger, you’re the one who has continuously regressed back to the Stone Age with such profoundly mindless comments as these during your tenure.  What a sad, sad spectacle for a once-promising political newcomer and purported reformer.

December 15th, 2009 at 10:21 am
Passing Health Care Reform Even If It Kills Them

Byron York posts a great article today culled from his discussion with an anonymous Democratic strategist. The topic is the rationale motivating Democrats to pass comprehensive health care “reform” over the vociferous objections from a majority of the public. For the White House, it’s the fierce urgency of now. In the Senate, it’s the calculation that senators vulnerable in next year’s election will be at risk of losing their seats with or without passing the bill. And in the House, it’s the belief by party stalwarts like Henry Waxman (D-CA) and Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) that the 20 or 40 members likely to be defeated because of the bill are nominal players.

But when pressed by York to explain why Democratic leaders keep pushing for something a majority of the public doesn’t want, his interlocutor reveals the essence of the liberal conceit.

“Because they think they know what’s best for the public,” the strategist said. “They think the facts are being distorted and the public’s being told a story that is not entirely true, and that they are in Congress to be leaders. And they are going to make the decision because Goddammit, it’s good for the public.”

How democratic.

December 15th, 2009 at 9:58 am
NYT Misunderstands Personal Discretion

Despite a catchy tease about New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg being a do-as-I-say-not-as-I-do carbon emitter, the New York Times goes out of its way to minimize criticizing him. Sure, the self-made billionaire frequently travels to Bermuda and other international locales on a private jet while urging others to conserve energy. And yes, he preaches the virtues of public nutrition while emptying the salt shaker on his pizza. But, cautions the Times, you must understand: Mayor Mike is rich, and rich people like riding on private jets. They’re comfortable, quick, and apparently serve sushi. Besides, you’d ride in one too if you could.

This is not Bloombergian hypocrisy; it is a paradox, shared by most of humankind. I’ve lived within a block or two of a subway station since birth, yet owned a car since I got a driver’s license. There is a long list of public figures — from movie stars to politicians to journalists — who preach conservation for everyone else, while living in mega-homes and flying in Gulfstreams. It is probably not a good idea for the rest of us to look down our noses at people who cannot resist such temptations until we can afford them ourselves.

At which point the newly wealthy would succumb to the temptation to indulge in similar naughty expenditures?

The truth is that Bloomberg and the author of this tortured article aren’t engaging in hypocrisy or a paradox. They’re just opting out. Instead of abiding by the logical conclusions stemming from Nannystate environmental and food policies, they are choosing to exercise their freedom of discretion. Kudos to Bloomberg for saving rainwater to reduce his foundation’s energy costs. Bravo to the author for keeping autoworkers, road maintenance staff, and car dealers employed by owning a car instead of using the subway. But they should recognize that in each case it is the combination of personal wealth and a lack of prohibitory laws that allows each to adopt the level of self-imposed denial they deem sustainable.

December 15th, 2009 at 9:08 am
Morning Links
December 14th, 2009 at 8:02 pm
Tiger Woods Inspires Libertarian Case for Legalizing Blackmail
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Here in Los Angeles, talk radio guru Bill Handel conducted a provocative interview today with Stephan Kinsella, an intellectual property lawyer from Texas who is also a libertarian legal theorist associated with the Ludwig Von Mises Institute.

Kinsella is an interesting guy. He is a patent lawyer, yet doesn’t believe in the legitimacy of intellectual property rights.  But his current cause is making the case that blackmail should be legal.  Kinsella points to the recent sex scandals surrounding Tiger Woods and David Letterman and notes that Woods bribing former paramours to keep quiet would be legal, whereas Robert Halderman’s attempt to solicit a bribe from Letterman in exchange for his silence got him arrested. 

Kinsella is in favor of extortion laws that seek to deter the use of force, but sees no reason to prohibit seeking money for the preservation of someone’s reputation (making the interesting case that no one has a right to what other people think of them).  Many (maybe even most) listeners will disagree, but there’s plenty of interest to listen to here.

December 14th, 2009 at 4:56 pm
Quote of the Day
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Reason’s Matt Welch on President Obama and the “Economic Consensus” of his fiscal policy:

Obama is a political master at drawing boundaries around the “respectable” debate and marginalizing a swath of his critics as being beyond the pale. Will he succeed at doing it with economics, too? We only know that he will try.

December 14th, 2009 at 4:31 pm
Job Growth Coming… So Let’s Pass Another “Stimulus?”
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The Obma White House has long followed the idea that there’s no problem that the federal government shouldn’t fix.

Now, it’s telling us that there’s no improvement that the federal government shouldn’t fix, either.

That appeared to be the message from White House Council of Economic Advisors Chairman Christina Romer and National Economic Council Chairman Lawrence Summers, both of whom made the rounds on yesterday’s Sunday talk shows.  In his comments to George Stephanopoulos on ABC’s This Week, Mr. Summers said that, “most professional forecasters are now looking for a return to job growth by spring.”  And appearing on NBC’s Meet the Press, Ms. Romer predicted “positive job growth sometime in the first quarter.”

But as noted by The Wall Street Journal today, we must ignore federal deficits in favor of more “stimulus” spending.  According to both Summers and Romer, shifting focus to the deficit instead of spending even more during a period of record deficits would be “suicide.”

So let’s get this straight:  Obama’s first “stimulus” was supposed to cap unemployment at 8%.  It’s now at 10%.  But despite the fact that the White House expects job growth to return in the next quarter, it wants to spend even more to “stimulate?”

One is left to wonder whether the Obama Era more closely resembles a work of Orwell or merely an issue of The Onion.

December 14th, 2009 at 2:33 pm
White House: Debt? What Debt?
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The White House has made the decision that debt, all $12 trillion worth of it, no longer matters in America.  Instead of attempting to lower the $1.4 trillion annual budget deficit, the White House is looking for another round of stimulus pork.

According to White House Economic Advisor Christina Romer, it would be “suicide” to focus on deficit reduction to the exclusion of “job creation.”  Her solution, of course, is to repeat the past two/three failed stimulus bills and spend another $50 billion on infrastructure.   In Washington, D.C. that means $5 billion on infrastructure and $45 billion on pork and other preferred government handouts.

Romer’s solution is odd considering this paper she authored with her husband in April (after she began working at the White House) that concluded each dollar of tax cuts historically raised Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by $3, greater than many similar estimates of government stimulus spending.

Romer also concluded that tax increases can easily lower GDP.  As she wrote, “Our results indicate that tax changes have very large effects on output.  Our baseline specification implies than an exogenous tax increase of 1% of GDP lowers real GDP by almost 3%.”  There appears to be a big difference between Doctor of Economics Romer and White House employee Romer.

With all this knowledge about the virtues of tax cuts and the harm of tax increases, Dr. Romer should pay a visit to the West Wing occasionally and remind President Obama that his policies will continue to shrink GDP and impede job creation.

December 14th, 2009 at 11:07 am
Obama Is the One Who Doesn’t “Get It”
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Barack Obama has done little, if anything, right during his year in office, but he’s obviously perfecting the art of shameless hypocrisy.

Appearing on CBS’s 60 Minutes yesterday, Barack Obama said with a straight face that “the people on Wall Street still don’t get it.  They don’t get it.” For good measure, he also broadly labeled bankers “fat cats” who have behaved in an “irresponsible” manner and not shown “a lot of shame.”

Let’s see.  This is the same Barack Obama who promised to address the $0.4 trillion deficit, only to add a trillion to make it $1.4 trillion in just his first year.  In other words, he is addressing the deficit by…  tripling it.  Lest one reflexively attribute that to his inheritance, this year’s deficit is on an even worse trajectory.  He is also the man who proposes adding an endless array of new entitlements and highly-paid new federal employees to an already-unsustainable budget trajectory.  He is also the man who seeks to reward the same federal bureaucracies that failed to recognize the financial bubble, and even abetted it, by granting them nearly plenary powers over the entire struggling economy.  He is also the man who aims to compound the nation’s economic woes by imposing catastrophic healthcare costs and carbon taxes upon it.  He is also the man who seeks to increase taxes on broad swaths of struggling individuals and small businesses by allowing rates to increase next year. He is also the man who promised to usher in a new era of international diplomacy and peace, only to see rogue regimes such as Iran increase their menace since his inauguration.

Yet he says that others “don’t get it?”

Laughably, he mocked bankers for being “puzzled” why the public is “mad” at them.  Perhaps he was merely projecting his own puzzlement at his record-low poll numbers, which similarly reveal a public “mad” at him?

December 14th, 2009 at 8:59 am
Morning Links
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December 11th, 2009 at 5:13 pm
Bad News from the House Floor
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In the never ending succession of bad legislation coming out of Congress, the Democrats added another one to the list today.

By a 223-202 vote, the House passed the “Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2009.”  Twenty-seven Democrats joined every single Republican to oppose the legislation.

The bill is a hodgepodge of more regulations, higher taxes and new government.  After Sarbanes-Oxley, Congress thought it had effectively ended the debate over financial regulations.  For Congress, it’s never too late to re-regulate.

You can read the Congressional Research Service summary of the legislation here.

Here is the CBO’s cost estimate of the bill.

December 11th, 2009 at 3:47 pm
Professor Obama Goes Back to School
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Foreign Policy Initiative’s Abe Greenwald does an excellent riff on President Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize acceptace speech today on National Review’s website. The upshot: Greenwald wonders whether Obama’s stark articulation of evil’s presence in the world (and its impact on international affairs) shows a president who’s starting to rethink some of the first principles of his foreign policy.

Greenwald sees some promising signs, but still wonders whether Obama can ever fully turn the corner. In one bravura passage:

“Irving Kristol said, almost too memorably, ‘A neoconservative is a liberal who has been mugged by reality.’ With that definition in mind, an eminent national-security personage put this perfectly phrased query to me over the summer: ‘Is Obama too arrogant to get mugged by reality?'”

“An excellent question. What the president calls his “philosophy of persistence” looks increasingly like the vice of conceit. The new White House imperiousness explains Obama’s inability to offer full-throated praise for the Iraq War — an undertaking he staunchly opposed. It also explains his devotion to de-fanging Iran through the voodoo of his personal allure (and to his correspondent obtuseness on Iran’s democrats).”

Today’s best piece on foreign policy (apart from this one). Read it here.