Sunday, February 28, 2010

A Meddlesome White House

Sestak flap amplifies questions about Obama's political operation:
Rep. Joe Sestak’s admission that the White House tried to lure him out of a primary challenge to Sen. Arlen Specter made Pennsylvania the fifth state this cycle in which the Obama administration has tried unsuccessfully to clear the field for Democratic senate candidates.
The big takeaway for most from Sestak’s admission Thursday – he said the White House offered him a high-profile government appointment to move him out of the Pennsylvania Democratic primary – was that it amplified ongoing questions about the potency of the Obama political operation.
Yeah, yeah. The "big takeway" was "ongoing questions about the potency of the Obama political operation." In the part of the country that's outside the beltway, I think the quid pro quo was the "big takeway". It's a tipoff from the political class that nothing's changed.

St. Louis Tea Party under the Arch

The pictures above are from Leaning to Starboard he also has great video coverage of the Tea Party up on Vimeo. I was unable to attend Saturday's festivities. Here's some more coverage of yesterday's Tea Party:
Update: Here are some more pictures. These are from Kelly at Gateway2Liberty.

Update 2: Keyboard Militia sent along this slide show:

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Interview with Edward Crim (Part 1)

In part one of my two part interview we learn why Edward Crim, a professional photographer, has decided to put down his camera and challenge incumbent Russ Carnahan (D-MO) in the August 3rd Democrat primary. This interview was conducted 1/21/10.



Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Profile of Dana Loesch

Dana Loesch

The River Front Times has a great profile of St Louis Tea Party leader Dana Loesch. My favorite bit in the RFT piece is her comment about C-SPAN:
Stylistically, Loesch says she sought to emulate entertainers like Howard Stern and Jon Stewart. Her daily prep consists of reading widely online, from NPR to to the New York Times to coverage from ABC's Jake Tapper. C-SPAN? Rarely. "I could sound all academic and say I like watching it because it's good for our democracy," says Loesch. "But honestly I like it best when they diva out and start hollering. I like it the way I like to watch Cops."
Dana has several comments.

Charles Jaco Charged with Assault

Mike Anderson of reports that assault charges have been filed against legacy media personality Charles Jaco. Jaco allegedly assaulted St. Louis area journalism entrepreneur, Adam Sharp of SharpElbows.Net.

With the Communists recently encouraging violence as a means to advance their progressive agenda, keeping a lid on peaceful protests has to remain a high priority for law enforcement. Hopefully, the assault charges leveled in this case will deter future violence.

Introducing Edward Crim

In mid-January, Edward Crim (D) announced that he would be running to represent Missouri's Third Congressional District. Crim is running as a Democrat, so he will face Russ Carnahan (D-MO) in the August 3rd primary.

I interviewed Crim and will be releasing more video from that interview in the coming days. You can find out more about Crim at

Monday, February 22, 2010

Layers of Editors and Fact Checkers

24thState offered some shooting tips after the Post Dispatch reported on Congressman Russ Carnahan's handgun skillz. Now, Jake Wagman is back peddling the PD's story:
Those in our comments section who questioned whether U.S. Rep. Russ Carnahan really was firing a pistol in a photo at the police academy were right on target.

I, however, was not.
Good for Wagman! A lesser journalist would've left this mess to the ombudsman to mop up or blamed the "layers of editors and fact checkers."

Unfortunately, Wagman still hasn't offered an explanation for the three holes in the target. Who shoots three bullets? I mean, I've heard of a double tap, but I've never heard of a triple tap. The target pictured at right was found in a dumpster behind the Police Academy (or, perhaps, Photoshopped). It's believed to be the work of Congressman Carnahan because it bears his signature campaign message: "I <heart> PELOSI" They don't call him Rubberstamp Russ for nothing!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Racism and the Zernike Kerfuffle

Instapundit has links to Roger Simon ("So what’s the deal with this clinging to racism – or racial accusations – on the part of some liberals? Well, I think it reflects a significant and growing insecurity that they are no longer the cool guys.") and Dan Riehl:
I’d bet money that were Zernike to hear similar rhetoric with the same dialect from a friend or colleague, she wouldn’t give it a second thought, let alone mis-characterize it as racist. One way or another, that is what they do to all of us on the Right. And whether they do it intentionally, or not, doesn’t matter. We can’t allow them to keep getting away with it.
And what if citizens left, right, and center realize that racial reconciliation will not come from a benighted leader, but that a step toward a more perfect union can be taken by we the people?

Years ago we were segregated by law. Today we are segregated by our choices—where to live, where to go to school, where to worship, who to spend our free time with. But, there is one thing which unites us: we are the American race. We need to crowdsource racial reconciliation because we all have contributions to make. The first contribution is to self identify to pollsters and the census as "American".

Over many years, probably decades, the data collected will show which communities have trended from racial animosity towards a united American identity and which haven't. At that point we will learn what drives racial reconciliation and what stymies it. What we take away from this racial introspection will drive policy, lifestyle, religious, and charitable decisions and take us, yes, imperfectly, toward that more perfect union.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Report on Race to the Top

A friend at sent me a report on a meeting about Missouri state sovereignty, Race to the Top (RTTT), and the Governor's Council. I've excerpted only the part about Race to the Top:
Kasey Brzycki followed Senator Lembcke's presentation. [Kasey] is the Education Advisor for the Missouri Sovereignty Project and you can find more information about Kasey and the Project here. Kasey became increasingly disturbed about what she read in the 15 page Executive Summary and the subsequent 300 page RACE TO THE TOP application. When you read these documents, pay attention to what this document states. It will allow the wresting of local school board control, unfunded federal mandates, and the underlying premise of this document...Cass Sunstein's assertion (page 10 of the application) that we, as a state, "need to be nudged" to provide excellent education (the theme of the Federal Government) This is an attempt to take away our local power in our schools. Education decisions will be made on a "consortium" level, NOT on your local level. School boards will, in effect, become obsolete.

This document was first given to school boards, superintendents, and teacher union representatives in November 2009. The 300 page document was not yet available, just the 15 page executive summary. By the time the deadline approached on January 19, 2010, the 300 page document was ready, but it is not specific on how these programs are to be implemented, nor how they are to be funded. School districts were pressured into signing because if they did not sign, they would not be considered for these funds. The second round of signatures are due in MARCH 2010. Time is of the essence. Call your school district TODAY. As 99% of Missouri school districts signed on to be considered for these funds, chances are YOUR school district is part of this group.

Folks, this is a 300 page report that not ONCE refers to parents. This is a document that talks about our students as human capital, and our society as social capital. If nothing else in this document gives you pause, these chilling sentences should create concern. Our society is based on "we the people". Our children and we DO NOT serve a consortium of states or a government. People are not commodities to serve the government, the government was developed to serve the people.

The document also refers to the redistribution of teachers. This means highly effective teachers can be transferred to lower performing classrooms to even out the testing results of classrooms. Teachers, YOU ARE NOT PROTECTED BY YOUR UNION. YOUR STATE UNION REPRESENTATIVE SIGNED ON TO THIS DOCUMENT through the local school board levels.

So, what are we to do now? Good question. We are contacting the MO Sovereignty Project for advice, talking amongst our townships, trying to figure out our next step. The first step is educating yourself. I believe our readers do not need a "nudge" to find out what this mandate means for our children and giving away our sovereignty. We can figure out what is happening behind the scenes. We are not stakeholders. We are citizens who are concerned about this push toward federalization of our programs. You need to call your School District today. You need to ask them if it signed on to this document and why. Call your legislator. Call the State Board of Education. Call the governor. Tell your neighbors. This is akin to the ramming through of the health reform bill. Secrecy, vagueness, and sense of "crisis". As 93% of Missouri school districts are performing well, perhaps we should focus on the 7% of the districts which are struggling.

If you missed Kasey's presentation, she will be speaking on this issue again on Wednesday, February 24, 7PM at the Kisker Library in St. Charles. Address: 1000 Kisker Road.
I haven't followed the RTTT issue closely. I've gotten about a dozen emails about it—everyone intent on stopping it. That's fine, I just think there's a better strategy. Working to stop RTTT is a defensive move against Leviathan, but we need to attack, attack, attack. We can't let the left define the battle space. In early January, I sketched a strategy in a post about my Vision for the New School. Here's the key point of that post:
Sooner or later someone is going to upload a complete high school curriculum to YouTube. Perhaps someone has. They'll build a website that supplements the video material with an open source textbook, homework, readings, and testing—a virtual learning environment... Over time, the best video lectures on a subject will be remixed together to produce an even better educational experience. New material will be integrated as it is created and unaccredited school districts will replace their teachers with bouncers to maintain order during the video lecture. Homeschoolers will have an Internet based educational alternative—one that might be configured to help them avoid incarceration in backward states like Maryland. Families will work with like minded religious institutions to create al a carte educational curricula that meet their shared academic, civic, and religious priorities. Churches, synagogues, and mosques around the country will become venues for education, just as they once were hundreds of years ago. School boards will set grade appropriate testing requirements in academic fields (including civics) that meet the needs and demands of the local community, but the curriculum will be crowdsourced by those that choose to contribute content to this educational approach.
Imagine a completely transparent educational system. Now consider the impact this could have on public employee pension plans. Dreamy, isn't it?

Thursday, February 18, 2010

The Employment-Population Ratio

On February 16th, Persident Obama's Organizing for America sent an email to its list of subscribers hailing the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act a success. The email included a graph of monthly job losses for the last 14 months of President Bush's term and the first twelve months of Obama's Administration. However, the chart is misleading because it does not account for the much greater number of discouraged workers who have stopped looking for work.

A better measure of the country's employment situation is the employment-population ratio. This is simply the number of people employed dived by the population. What we see over the past 26 months is that President Obama has not yet reversed the downward trend.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The Columbia Journalism Review on the IPCC Story

Curtis Brainard of the Columbia Journalism Review digs into the IPCC story:
A couple of America’s leading media outlets finally dug into the recent controversy surrounding the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change last week. The Observatory first criticized U.S. news outlets two weeks ago for not paying more attention to the issue.
So far, so good.
Last Tuesday, The New York Times ran a front-page article by Elisabeth Rosenthal under the headline, “U.N. Panel and Its Chief Face a Siege on Their Credibility.” On Wednesday, the Associated Press ran one over the wire headlined, “Scientists seek better way to do climate report.” The difference between the two headlines—the Times focused on the panel’s faults, the AP on its attempts to address them—is important. Each tells half the story, but it is the latter that should lead.
What!? Lead with the soft peddled AP story!? Clearly, you want to provide editorial cover for scientists that may have committed fraud. Fortunately for the fraudsters, the statute of limitations ran out.
That focus would defy the media’s preference for a conflict narrative and the “front-page thought,” but the story here is not the fact that the IPCC and climate scientists have made mistakes. From the batch of e-mails taken from the University of East Anglia in November to more recent allegations of errors and poor sourcing in the IPCC’s Fourth Assessment Report, these mistakes have done little to undermine the fundamental theory that human industry is contributing to global warming, or prove that the field of climate science is riddled with corruption. The story, properly told, is about whether or not the responsible parties are responding appropriately to flaws in the system (correcting the record where necessary and working to prevent the recurrence of past mistakes).
Brainard misrepresents the leak from East Anglia as being a "batch of e-mails" when the leak also included poorly written source code. Code that could drive the allocation of billions of dollars around the world. But how on earth can Brainard write "these mistakes have done little to... prove that the field of climate science is riddled with corruption"? In light of ClimateGate, GlacierGate, RainforestGate, HurricaneGate, and especially the corruption of the peer review process that statement sharpens the old saw: "there are none so blind as those that will not see." As for preventing "the recurrence of past mistakes", that's not really necessary—you can only lose your primary data once.
Bearing this in mind, it is easy to see why—as Climate Progress blogger Joe Romm first pointed out—Rosenthal buried her lede in the ninth paragraph, which reads:
The panel, in reviewing complaints about possible errors in its report, has so far found that one was justified and another was “baseless.” The general consensus among mainstream scientists is that the errors are in any case minor and do not undermine the report’s conclusions.
Consensus... ugh. Science is about gathering facts running them through the scientific method and establishing new, repeatable facts. Scientific consensus leads to error cascades.
That is something that needs to be mentioned in the first few paragraphs. From there, a reporter can explain that errors were nonetheless made, which should remind the world of three things: that the exact timing and scale of certain impacts of climate change are subject to a lot of uncertainty; that some scientists will behave defensively, even to the point of negligence, when they feel threatened; and that all quality control-systems sometimes fail. Thereafter, the question becomes: What is being done about these problems?
I think that Brainard is on target here and remains (mostly) on target to the end. The last few paragraphs of his article are particularly interesting:
...the Guardian “will allow web users to annotate the manuscript to help us in our aim of creating the definitive account of the controversy. This is an attempt at a collaborative route to getting at the truth.” The approach seems effective....

It is this kind of detailed, intellectually honest (even technologically innovative) reporting that news outlets like The New York Times should be striving for with their coverage of the recent controversies related to the IPCC. Coverage in the U.S. still feels like the proverbial tale of blind men examining different quarters of an elephant. Readers need the point-by-point master narrative. How exactly did this crisis in public confidence crystallize over the last month or so? How did various criticisms of the IPCC roll out? Which of those are legitimate? Which false? And what, if anything, can be done to improve the IPCC’s work?

It is not a story that can be told without a significant amount of context, but news outlets have a responsibility to get it right. If that means sacrificing the front-page thought and running a twelve-part series online instead, so be it.

Government's Good Intentions

Hot Air notes that Obama is borrowing Jimmy Carter's jobs bill:
This bill has the same structural problems as Carter’s, which is that it targets a business decision on which it will have little influence. No business will hire someone and pay them $106,000 to get $6000 back in only one year without additional demand to support the $106,000 salary...

The effect of a tax benefit will be to further subsidize the already successful and to put struggling businesses at a greater disadvantage. If two entities in a market already have a competitive mismatch, the hiring tax credit will aggravate it by allowing the better business to slightly reduce costs while bringing more forces and product to market. That will allow them to lower prices (or not hike them) more readily than their competitors, which would create a government-induced bias that could drown the disadvantaged entity.
In order to have companies that are "Too Big to Fail" you have to foster them along the way.


The Register questions the IPCC conclusions drawn from hurricane data:
More trouble looms for the IPCC. The body may need to revise statements made in its Fourth Assessment Report on hurricanes and global warming. A statistical analysis of the raw data shows that the claims that global hurricane activity has increased cannot be supported.


"When you average the number of storms and their strength, it almost exactly balances." This isn't indicative of an increase in atmospheric energy manifesting itself in storms.


The IPCC does indeed conclude that "there is no clear trend in the annual numbers of tropical cyclones." If only the IPCC had stopped there. Yet it goes on to make more claims, and draw conclusions that the data doesn't support.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Time, Money, and Oil

Bloomberg reports that the US will pay dearly for its drilling bans: "Restrictions on oil and gas drilling will cost the U.S. economy $2.36 trillion through 2029..." By 2012, $2.36 trillion could be smaller than our annual deficit, so I can't imagine what a pittance it will be by 2029... assuming the country's still solvent.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Lasing Mosquitos

Nathan Myhrvold of Intellectual Ventures uses lasers to zap mosquitoes:
The laser detection is so precise that it can specify the species, and even the gender, of the mosquito being targeted. “The women are bigger. They beat at a lower frequencies,” Mr. Myhrvold said. Since it is only the female mosquitoes who bite humans, for the sake of efficiency, his system would leave the males alone.
Read the whole thing to learn how many mosquitoes it can shoot down per second.

Former VP Dick Cheney Praises President Obama

Instapundit reports Cheney ‘a complete supporter’ of Obama Afghanistan Strategy:
In an exclusive interview this morning on [ABC's] “This Week,” former Vice President Dick Cheney got behind President Barack Obama’s strategy in Afghanistan.

“I’m a complete supporter of what they are doing in Afghanistan. I think the President made the right decision to send troops into Afghanistan,” Cheney said. “I thought it took him a while to get there.”
It's nice to finally see some bipartisanship in Washington, DC, especially since this well-timed Valentine from Cheney to the president will likely tarnish The Won's image with his supporters.

Is there anything they got right?

Reuters reports that the IPCC has admitted an error about Dutch sea levels:
The U.N. panel of climate experts overstated how much of the Netherlands is below sea level, according to a preliminary report on Saturday, admitting yet another flaw after a row last month over Himalayan glacier melt.

A background note by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) said a 2007 report wrongly stated that 55 percent of the country was below sea level since the figure included areas above sea level, prone to flooding along rivers.

The United Nations has said errors in the 2007 report of about 3,000 pages do not affect the core conclusions that human activities, led by burning fossil fuels, are warming the globe.
Of course, they don't "affect the core conclusions," because those core conclusions are based entirely on confirmation bias.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Turning up the Heat on the IPCC

Charlie Martin at Pajamas Media reports that Senator James Inhofe has turned up the heat on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC):
Wednesday afternoon, Senator Inhofe gave a floor speech (watch on YouTube here) in which he summarized the rapidly accumulating evidence of severe flaws in the IPCC assessment reports, along with the other issues uncovered by the release of the University of East Anglia Climate Research Unit (CRU) emails.


Inhofe’s speech didn’t directly call for any particular action on the part of Congress, but it did point out that the Obama administration has asserted that if a cap and trade bill doesn’t pass, it could achieve similar effects by a simple finding by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that carbon dioxide is a pollutant — a finding the EPA actually made late last year. However, as Inhofe pointed out in his on-floor remarks, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson had testified to his committee that the CO2 finding was largely based on the IPCC reports.

Inhofe noted that Pachauri had testified on climate change in front of his committee, saying:
Dr. Pachauri should come clean and respond directly to the numerous charges made against himself and the IPCC. Given that Dr. Pachauri has testified before Congress, including the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, we should hear directly from him as soon as possible as to how he can salvage the IPCC’s vanishing credibility.
With the media ignoring the climategate story, it falls on the minority party to speak truth to power. It will be interesting to see if Inhofe's efforts are effective. I doubt that the EPA would reconsider its finding of CO2 as a pollutant. To do so, would mean that they had to give up some power.

Nonetheless, legislators like Inhofe need to continue to hit the climategate, glaciergate, and the rest. Ideally, the MSM will continue to ignore the story while the steady drumbeat from both state legislators and congresspeople will add pressure, causing the story to breakthrough this summer. In primaries and the November election, legislators like Russ Carnahan (D-MO), who have tied their career to the the fraud of climate science, will face a reckoning at the polls.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Gallup Buries the Lead

Gallup reports that Republicans and Democrats are tied on the generic ballot: 45-45. The real news is the chart above which appears at the end of the Gallup post. There's almost a 30 point difference in party enthusiasm.

America's Third Great Awakening

Glenn Reynolds argues that the Tea Party is America's Third Great Awakening:
And the biggest action item that she presented the crowd with wasn’t to support Sarah Palin, as most politicians would have asked, but to challenge incumbents in primary races. Primary battles aren’t “civil war,” she said. They’re the kind of competition that produces strength in the end.
I think that's right. As for Glenn's argument that the Tea Party is America's Third Great Awakening, only time will tell.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Loss of Climate Credibility

The UK's Globe and Mail reports on the great global warming collapse:
"The global warming movement as we have known it is dead," the brilliant analyst Walter Russell Mead says in his blog on The American Interest. It was done in by a combination of bad science and bad politics.
And Walter Russell Mead didn't stop there. Mead writes in the Great IPCC Meltdown Continues [emphasis in original]:
It’s not just the threat of Himalayan glaciers disappearing by 2035.

Now another headline grabbing IPCC scare story is melting away. A report in Sunday’s London Times highlights new humiliations for the IPCC.

The most important is a claim that global warming could cut rain-fed north African crop production by up to 50% by 2020, a remarkably short time for such a dramatic change. The claim has been quoted in speeches by Rajendra Pachauri, the IPCC chairman, and by Ban Ki-moon, the UN secretary-general.
Is there any credibility left in climate science?

Donnie Stevens and Barack Obama

In his SOTU address, President Obama remarked that he needs to better explain healthcare reform to the American people. In the video above, that comment is contrasted with Donny Stevens comments at Ed Martin's mid-January townhall.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Reform in Jefferson City

Patrick Tuohey at the Missouri Record has some compelling thoughts on ethics reform:
A better solution would involve a complete deregulation of campaign finance coupled with much stricter reporting requirements. If Jim Nutter or Rex Sinquefield want to write fat checks, that is their right. And partisans, bloggers and special interests should be able to know of it immediately and act accordingly. This better fits the political skepticism that has characterized the American citizen since before we were a country.

Any other approach is reactive, makes compliance an expensive insiders' game and lacks credibility because it tells voters that the legislature can act ethically even if individual legislators cannot.

As for those legislators with a "personal value system," they should step forward and tell us who among them are the bad guys. Anything less makes them complicit in unethical behavior, and proves that this drive toward more and more ethics regulation is political theatre.

Audi's Green Police Ad

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Environmental Complexification Revisited

Just the other day I was blogging about the environmental complexification of cars and, now, another data point has appeared in the news [emphasis added]:
...Ford has reportedly issued a Technical Service Bulletin outlining a software update for its 2010 Fusion Hybrid and Mercury Milan Hybrid sedans.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Project Vote Loots Missouri Taxpayers

Big Government is investigating a robbery in Jefferson City. Apparently, an ACORN spin-off, Project Vote, pillaged $450k:
In March 2007, Project Vote contacted Missouri SoS Robin Carnahan about possible violations of the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 (NVRA). In the following months, employees of the SoS were in contact with Project Vote to address these possible violations. After various Sunshine Requests and “investigative” studies, Project Vote along with its allied organizations sued Deborah Scott, Director of the Missouri Department of Social Services (DSS). An initial court order in July of 2008 forced DSS to comply with Project Vote’s interpretation, but that wasn’t enough. Faced with a change in governor (and party), a judge with a history of favorable Carnahan rulings, a lack of money, and without the protection, guidance or assistance from Robin Carnahan’s office, Missouri’s Department of Social Services settled in June of 2009. Project Vote and its teams of lawyers were able to plunder $450,000 from Missouri taxpayers in attorneys’ fees for a case they never had to prove – namely a preposterous reading of the ”motor voter” law that puts the burden of registration on state officials as long as they aren’t the Democratic Secretary of State.
Notably, this occurred on Robin Carnahan's (D-MO) watch since she's been the Secretary of State in Missouri since 2004.

Friday, February 5, 2010

The Politicization of Peer Review

Jonathan Adler at the Volokh Conspiracy has short post on the politicization of the peer review process:
Among other things, the release of e-mails and documents from the University of East Anglia’s Climate Research Unit has laid bare the efforts of a handful of climate scientists to manipulate how the peer review process handled research that could undermine claims of a climate science “consensus.” As climate scientists David Douglass and John Christy detail here, the CRU e-mails reveal a concerted effort to sandbag one of their publications, both in the peer-reviewed scientific literature as well as on the purportedly neutral climate science blog RealClimate. Patrick Michaels and Roger Pielke Jr. have more.

What these and other episodes reveal was that there was a concerted effort to stage-manage the appearance of an ironclad consensus at the expense of the scientific process.

Enviromental Complexification

Holman Jenkins writes in the WSJ about Toyota and the Curse of Software [emphasis added]:
Complaints of sudden unintended acceleration afflict all car makers and, as Toyota advised Congress recently, the cause is "very, very hard to identify." This reality, forensically and politically, is coming into collision with the growing reliance on computers and software in the vehicles we drive, which can now account for 40% of the value of a new car. And, yes, "feature wars" play a role, but we're here to tell you the biggest reason is government regulation requiring cleaner emissions.

A decade ago, what were single-purpose computers, each with its own software, began to merge into systems with many millions of lines of code...

But implementing so many vital and not-so-vital control features as a network system also creates complexity and multiplies the opportunity for unpredictable software bugs and circuitry mishaps.

Take Toyota's latest troubles with its marquee car, the Prius. Even amid its runaway-acceleration traumas, the company was hit this week with Japanese and U.S. government investigations of brake failures in the 2010 version of its iconic hybrid.

A bit of history: Brakes were first introduced to computers and software for the relatively simple purpose of anti-lock braking. Then came stability control, giving brakes an additional computer-and-software controlled duty to perform.

In the Prius, brakes have now acquired a third function, "regenerative braking," or generating electricity to recharge the batteries for fuel-saving purposes.

That's a lot of software that has to cooperate to decide how the brakes should behave from one nanosecond to the next. Toyota has yet to offer a detailed diagnosis of the latest Prius misbehavior, but it sure sounds like the trouble arises from some unexpected interaction of these systems—on slippery or uneven roads, at low speeds, the brakes reportedly refuse to respond to a driver's foot on the pedal.
Government mandated environmental requirements are one driver to the complexification of automotive software. As the intentions of those pushing environmental policy comes under greater scrutiny because of the loss of credibility associated with climategate, glaciergate, and the rest, we can expect a pull back from environmental regulation. As voters begin to understand that environmental legislation may harm them because their car's accelerator is more likely to fail and its breaks may not work, they'll vote for new legislators. Again, like other green issues, this is not going to help Russ Carnahan (D-MO) in this election cycle.

ClimateGate and Credibility

The Washington Post reported in mid-December that Obama and scientists had taken a hit in a recent poll:
There's also rising public doubt and growing political polarization about what scientists have to say on the environment, and a widespread perception that there is a lot of disagreement among scientists about whether global warming is happening.
In early January, Eric S. Raymond identified this phenomenon as the collapse of elite authority:
In yesterday's New York Times, David Brooks wrote perceptively about the burgeoning populist revolt against the “educated classes”. Brooks was promptly slapped around by various blogosphere essayists such as Will Collier, who noted that Brooks’s column reads like a weaselly apologia for the dismal failures of the “educated classes” in the last couple of decades.

Our “educated classes” cannot bring themselves to come to grips with the fact that fundamentalist Islam has proclaimed war on us. They have run the economy onto recessionary rocks with overly-clever financial speculation and ham-handed political interventions, and run up a government deficit of a magnitude that has never historically resulted in consequences less disastrous than hyperinflation. And I’m not taking conventional political sides when I say these things; Republicans have been scarcely less guilty than Democrats.

In the first month of a new decade, unemployment among young Americans has cracked 52% and we’re being officially urged to believe that an Islamic suicide bomber trained by Al-Qaeda in Yemen was an “isolated extremist”.

One shakes one’s head in disbelief. Is there anything our “educated classes” can’t f*ck up, any reality they won’t deny? Will Collier fails, however to ask the next question: why did they fail?
The short answer is that they fail because they commit what Friedrich von Hayek called the fatal conceit:
The curious task of economics is to demonstrate to men how little they really know about what they imagine they can design.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Green Issues

Green issues like cap and trade and "green jobs" will be featured in conservative attacks of liberals in this year's Congressional races. This is because climategate, glaciergate, and other seeming frauds of environmental science have undermined the public's faith in global warming. Candidates that have tied their careers to green issues will pay a price at the ballot box. One such candidate is Russ Carnahan (D-MO).

Eric S. Raymond identifies three groups that inadvertently enable each others groupthink. He places politicians like Carnahan in the "green-shirts" group. Here's his post about naming and shaming the AGW fraudsters:
First, the scientists. Most are caught up in, or struggling against, an error cascade of humongous proportions.... This is not conspiracy, it’s a result of a tendency to use seniority or authority as a shortcut when it’s technically difficult to evaluate evidence and socially difficult to be skeptical. All humans do this, even scientists.

Next, the Gaianists – term I made up for people in whom “Save the Earth!” has psychologically substituted for traditional religion (in more or less chiliastic forms). They mean well, they really do; they recycle as an act of virtue, they worry about composting and buying local produce — and they’re totally subject to being manipulated by the other players, which is important since most of the action is going on in democracies....

Next, the green-shirts. These are political hacks of all varieties who just love the ideas of more carbon taxes, more regulation, and the general expansion of state power, especially if they can posture as virtuous eco-saviors while they’re arranging this. They’re not a conspiracy either, just a bunch of careerists who compete for the Gaianists as a voting bloc.
Russ Carnahan supported cash for clunkers and cap and trade while directing $90 million of your stimulus dollars into his brother's windfarm business. Then there's Carnahan's 2007 climate change trip. His whirlwind tour hit several vacation hot spots: Italy, New Zealand, the South Pole, Australia, and Hawaii—all to save the environment.

Head of Greenpeace in UK calls for Rajendra Pachauri to Resign

Walter Russell Mead's blog reported UK Greenpeace Chief Calls on Pachauri to Resign: Al Gore Still Silent:
As the director of Greenpeace UK puts it: “The IPCC needs to regain credibility. Is that going to happen with Pachauri [as chairman]? I don’t think so. We need someone held in high regard who has extremely good judgment and is seen by the global public as someone on their side.”
That's interesting because there are about ten different addresses in the East Anglia CRU ClimateGate emails that end with "", so Greenpeace is (relatively) tight with the ClimateGate crowd. The fact that the UK's Greenpeace is moving to distance itself from the IPCC's Pachauri indicates a level of scientific integrity within Greenpeace that I had not expected. One wonders if this whiff of sanity will enlighten Greenpeace in the US or lead to a schism.


I just saw this over at the Young Democrats of St Louis website:
But first let's have some fun with Congressman Russ Carnahan.
WTH!?! Stealing the mission statement of the St Louis Tea Party Coalition like that... Shameless. Don't you lefties have any original thoughts?

ClimateGate Fallout

Neil Frank, former director of the National Hurricane Center, says you should be steamed:
Climategate reveals how predetermined political agendas shaped science rather than the other way around. It is high time to question the true agenda of the scientists now on the hot seat and to bring skeptics back into the public debate.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide

There appears to be no increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide levels over the last 150 years:
To assess whether the airborne fraction is indeed increasing, Wolfgang Knorr of the Department of Earth Sciences at the University of Bristol reanalyzed available atmospheric carbon dioxide and emissions data since 1850 and considers the uncertainties in the data.

In contradiction to some recent studies, he finds that the airborne fraction of carbon dioxide has not increased either during the past 150 years or during the most recent five decades.

State's Rights

Margaret Carlson writes that the Tea Party may be too hot to handle:
The National Tea Party Convention at Opryland in Nashville, Tenn., this week is unraveling. And no wonder. Herding cats is never easy, and a convention, as opposed to demonstrations, is antithetical to the anti-establishment Tea Party philosophy.

Who could hope to corral the disparate passions of Birchers and birthers, gold bugs, strict constructionists, secessionists, militiamen, vaccine deniers, anti-papists and flat-earthers? They collectively obscure the more silent majority of those legitimately concerned that America has lost its way.
It's true that there are a slew of strongly held beliefs that add distinct flavors to each of the many tea party organizations; however, as a movement, it is very narrowly defined. It's about restoring the 10th Amendment and state's rights, and, to a lesser extent, ending entrenched power and restoring fiscal responsibility. Tea Partiers don't always realize this. Sometimes they let their policy preferences out of the bag and contention ensues.

The State's Rights message should appeal across the political spectrum. If the Federal Government is checked and states gain power and standing, we will see conservative policies implemented in Texas and liberal policies in New York. What we cannot yet say is which state will implement the best policies; however, after ten or twenty years of conservative rule in Texas and liberal rule in New York, we'll be able to draw some conclusions based on crime rates, unemployment, taxes, life expectancy, GDP, income, etc.

This is why the Tea Parties must stay on message: state's rights. It's about restoring the Laboratory of Democracy.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Americans Worry about More Government Regulation

Gallup reports that Americans are leery of too much government regulation:
At a time when the debate over the optimal role of government involvement in regulating business is a prominent policy debate, new Gallup polling shows that 57% of Americans are worried that there will be too much government regulation of business...

Healthcare and State Sovereignty

On Tuesday, February 2nd, the Missouri Senate will consider SCR 34. This resolution is being sponsored by State Senator Jim Lembke. The legislation "reaffirms Missouri's sovereignty under the Tenth Amendment and demands that the federal government stop all activities outside the scope of their constitutionally-delegated powers."

Missouri is not alone in asserting its sovereignty. As the Washington Post reports, most states are trying to find ways to ban mandatory health insurance:
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- Although President Barack Obama's push for a health care overhaul has stalled, conservative lawmakers in more than two-thirds of the states are forging ahead with constitutional amendments to ban government health insurance mandates.
. . .
"We need to move ahead no matter what kind of maneuvering continues in Washington, D.C.," said Missouri Sen. Jane Cunningham, a Republican from suburban St. Louis.
. . .
"They are merely symbolic gestures," said Michael Dorf, a constitutional law professor at Cornell University. "If this Congress were to pass an individual mandate, and if it is constitutional - which I believe it is - the express rule under the supremacy clause (of the U.S. Constitution) is that the federal law prevails."
Michael Dorf's point about whether or not the healthcare legislation is constitutional is exactly why these efforts are not "symbolic gestures." When the constitutionality of a law is brought before the Supreme Court, the actions of the states often inform the opinions of the Justices. The point of state sovereignty movement is to bolster the tenth amendment in the eyes of the court so that state's rights are given greater weight in their opinions. Healthcare is merely the vehicle for this broader constitutional battle.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Runaway Train

Wendell Cox writes in the WSJ about the runaway subsidy train [emphasis added]:
In the other corridors where the administration plans to spend money—such as Charlotte to Raleigh and Chicago to St. Louis—projected train speeds won't be much faster than what the fastest trains in the 1930s were able to do. Some trains then topped 80 mph. As a result, car trips will normally be as fast door to door, and they will be far less costly than taking the train and then renting a car.

There is no need to subsidize intercity travel. Flyers pay for virtually all of the costs of running the airline system, including airports and air traffic control. Gasoline taxes and highway tolls built and maintain intercity roadways, and they also support mass transit with $10 billion in subsidies annually. Intercity buses require no taxpayer funds.

Only rail requires heavy subsidies. At the end of the day, the great danger is that true high-speed rail could cost taxpayers even more than the tens of billions in subsidies that have been paid to Amtrak since the 1970s.

Mr. Obama said in Tampa last week that we are "falling behind" other countries in high-speed rail. With a record budget deficit, it makes sense to fall behind in spending on high-speed rail that we don't need with money we don't have.