Squaring the Culture

"...and I will make justice the plumb line, and righteousness the level;
then hail will sweep away the refuge of lies,
and the waters will overflow the secret place."
Isaiah 28:17

07/30/2008 (9:04 am)

Obama's Stealth Socialism

The title of this post mirrors the title of an editorial at Investor’s Business Daily from Monday. I urge you all to read that editorial, which I’m quoting here.

The gist of it is to outline Obama’s economic proposals in light of his stated aim of “serving economic justice.” The phrase is a favorite of world socialists, who regard disparate wealth as an injustice and insist on government-enforced redistribution. Obama’s plans laid side-by-side make it clear that this is what he intends.

The editorial then proceeds to cite some of the details I’ve noted here about Obama’s upbringing and early employment, only adding some details I did not know. Apparently Obama’s first employer was a direct disciple of Saul Alinsky, who himself organized communities in Chicago, and the topic titles on the blackboard in an image of Obama teaching that I used in an earlier post are key phrases from Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals. See below:

He also recites communist ties to Obama’s father, and Obama’s support of Kenyan opposition candidate Raila Odinga, who has some communist connections. These two latter points are irrelevant, in my humble opinion; Obama’s father had no influence in his son’s life, and African politicians are mostly self-promoters rather than ideologues. However, it is certainly the case that Obama has moved consistently in radical circles around the world, and is known by them.

We have a public relations problem. Obama is a closet Marxist, and is openly, if obliquely, promising to institute Marxist-style socialism here in America. Yet, only about half of Americans even recognize Obama as liberal, let alone radical; and the number has dropped since Obama started swapping his positions to move to the center. We need to start sending the message out: Obama is not moderate, Obama is not liberal, Obama is Marxist. A vote for Obama represents, surprisingly, capitulation in the Cold War, a war we thought was over, and we had won.

Obama/Marx poster from CafePress, where you can buy bumper stickers and yard signs spreading the message. This may be a worthwhile contribution to the campaign, if you’re of a mind…

07/29/2008 (2:04 pm)

Drill Now, Lower Prices Now

Even though it will take new oil from 2 to 10 years to reach the market from projects started tomorrow, the effect on oil prices will be immediate.

I received a newsletter from Newt Gingrich’s American Solutions group containing a story that proves this in an amusing way. A paper was submitted to The Energy Journal, a peer-reviewed, scholarly publication, by Professors Morris Coats and Gary Pecquet of Nicholls State University and Gary Pecquet of Central Michigan University, arguing that higher production in the future would reduce prices today. The referee committee for the journal rejected the paper for publication, but not because it lacked technical merit; it was rejected because the conclusion of the paper was already so well established that the paper did not meet their editorial goal of adding new information to the body of scientific knowledge.

Read it for yourself:

Although the referees, and I, are in agreement with your basic argument, I regret to say that we will not be able to publish this work. Basically, your main result (the present impact of an anticipated future supply change) is already known to economists (although perhaps not to the Democratic Policy Committee). If Hotelling didn’t exactly spell this out in his original article, certainly Herfindahl and others had done so by the 1960s. It is our policy to publish only original research that adds significantly to the body of received knowledge regarding energy markets and policy.

This is hilarious! The Democratic party is arguing against something that’s been so well-known by economists since the 1960s that a major journal won’t even publish a paper establishing it; in effect, the Democrats are saying, “No, the sky is not blue.” (Update: Professor Coats notes that the original article by Hotelling was published in 1931, so this has actually been commonly understood since then. See comments below.)

An editorial by economist Kevin Hassett at Bloomberg.com confirms the story.

07/29/2008 (12:28 pm)

Progress in Climate Science

Very recent improvements in analysis techniques make it possible to measure how much current global temperature readings are affected by CO² — and it’s much less than previously assumed.

Strata-sphere posted testimony about a week ago that was delivered in front of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee on July 22 by Roy Spencer, one of the world’s leading climatologists and US Science Team Leader on NASA’s Aqua satellite instrumentation. Proponents of Anthropogenic Global Climate Change (AGW) hate Dr. Spencer, since he doesn’t agree that humans are at the root of it.

The testimony starts by reasserting Spencer’s 2008 research establishing that when the IPCC leaves ordinary, chaotic cloud formation out of climate models, which all their models do so far, it biases the models in the direction of high sensitivity to CO² changes. When natural cloud variations are included in the models, they all predict low sensitivity to CO² — which would mean that humans are not changing the climate much.

Spencer then adds very recent observed evidence showing a low sensitivity to CO² from his team’s satellite temperature readings. New mathematical analysis techniques developed by his team allow them to separate radiative forcing (Greenhouse Effect warming) from feedback effects in satellite temperature readings, and the results all say that the feedback effects are negative — they stabilize climate rather than forcing big changes. (Recall my lengthy discussion of feedback effects if you’re wondering why this matters.)

I’ll let Dr. Spencer speak for himself for a moment, from the transcript of the testimony:

… in the last several weeks, we have stumbled upon clear and convincing observational evidence of particularly strong negative feedback (low climate sensitivity) from our latest and best satellite instruments. That evidence includes our development of two new methods for extracting the feedback signal from either observational or climate model data, a goal which has been called the “holy grail” of climate research.

The first method separates the true signature of feedback, wherein radiative flux variations are highly correlated to the temperature changes which cause them, from internally-generated radiative forcings, which are uncorrelated to the temperature variations which result from them. It is the latter signal which has been ignored in all previous studies, the neglect of which biases feedback diagnoses in the direction of positive feedback (high climate sensitivity). (Spencer’s emphasis)

Based upon global oceanic climate variations measured by a variety of NASA and NOAA satellites during the period 2000 through 2005 we have found a signature of climate sensitivity so low that it would reduce future global warming projections to below 1 deg. C by the year 2100 … that estimate from satellite data is much less sensitive (a larger diagnosed feedback) than even the least sensitive of the 20 climate models which the IPCC summarizes in its report.

By “natural cloud variability,” Dr. Spencer is talking about all the natural agents other than greenhouse gases that go into forming clouds. In his testimony, he focused on two specific, known, natural patterns that affect cloud formation: the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO) and the El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO). The PDO is a decades-long shift from warm surface temperatures to cool ones, then back, in the northern Pacific Ocean that causes significant changes in weather. The ENSO is a much shorter shift in surface temperature (every 2-7 years) occuring east of Indonesia and moving east across the ocean that causes destructive weather changes lasting usually about a year. Both cause changes in cloud patterns, and are not caused by long-term global temperature.

Dr. Spencer’s point about clouds is pretty simple. The models used by the IPCC and AGW proponents assume that CO² in the atmosphere is the only relevant thing that causes clouds to increase or decrease. This assumption changes the outcome of the models in only one direction; it makes the climate seem to respond more wildly to changes in atmospheric CO². If changes in cloud cover are caused by things other than CO², then the model’s assessment of the climate’s sensitivity to CO² is too high. Spencer explains his point at greater length on his own blog site, if you’d like more detail.

Spencer claims that clouds are the major determinant of global temperature. He presents a very simple model that uses natural cloud variations from the ENSO and PDO to predict global temperatures. His simple model produces a global temperature pattern for the 20th century that fits the actual temperatures very neatly.

On this issue, it can be shown with a simple climate model that small cloud fluctuations assumed to occur with two modes of natural climate variability — the El Nino/La Nina phenomenon (Southern Oscillation), and the Pacific Decadal Oscillation — can explain 70% of the warming trend since 1900, as well as the nature of that trend: warming until the 1940s, no warming until the 1970s, and resumed warming since then.

The Strata-sphere article incorrectly claims this constitutes scientific evidence that 70% of the warming is not man-made. It doesn’t prove that; it simply presents a model that matches historical patterns. However, the success of this model in producing historical patterns without having to deliberately “tweak” the model to match the patterns, the way the IPCC modelers have, suggests that the theory underlying the model is sound.

The norm for hard science is that it takes about 30 years for advances among the scientists to make it to the general population. The reason for this is simple; scientists as a group don’t communicate very well to the general public. There’s no mechanism for the progress in hard theory or mathematical representation to get explained clearly to non-scientists.

Unless, of course, somebody’s using science to grab political power. Then, it becomes crucial to understand the flow of scientific thought day-to-day. This is why we’re all staying right on top of the forward progress of climate research.

In my humble estimation, there remain no observed data pointing to a primarily human cause of global climate change. The most likely contributors to global climate patterns are the things we would naturally assume control such things: the sun, cosmic rays, normal, chaotic patterns on the earth (like clouds and ocean currents). Humans do produce some effects, but it’s unlikely that these effects are strong or lasting; we’re just not that powerful. Releasing human liberty into the hands of governments on the off chance that our industry is affecting the climate is a very bad bet, and should be resisted wholeheartedly. There simply isn’t enough evidence to support the claim, and the price of changing — the loss of our God-given liberty — is far too high.

07/28/2008 (7:35 pm)

Here's Why It's Close

Allahpundit at Hot Air notes recent polls by Gallup and Rasmussen showing not only that Obama did not receive a significant bounce in the polls from his European trip, but one even showing that McCain is leading among likely voters.

And Michael Barone explains
why that might be. The chart below tells the story succinctly. I’m sorry it’s a bit blurry, but if you click on the image you’ll get the .pdf file with the original image in it; the chart appears on page 2.

It’s a comparison between March and July of who’s certain to vote. Notice that Democrats who say they’re certain to vote have dropped, while Republicans who say they’re certain to vote have remained unchanged. Notice how many of those voters who no longer say they’re certain to vote are in the youngest demographic, where Obama leads by the largest margin.

I think it’s fairly straightforward and simple to understand. The kids who came out for Obama were excited by the prospect of a politician who “doesn’t suck.” When Obama began switching his positions on nearly everything to play to the middle, they realized he was just another politician, said “F*** it,” and decided there was no point in voting. They may come back, we don’t know, but if you recall, Obama seemed to have lost the ability to win a primary near the end of the primary season; Obama wears thin pretty quickly. If he’s counting on young voters to stick with him for the long haul, he may be disappointed.

Barone’s article discusses states with unusually large groups of either elderly or young voters. I suggest you keep your eyes on Pennsylvania. Obama pretty much has to win Pennsylvania to win the election, and there’s a very, very good chance he won’t. Pennsylvania has two large cities run by Democratic machines, and the rest of the state is Republican. Hillary Clinton had a lot of support in PA, and there’s a large fraction of her supporters, around 23% so far, who won’t support Obama. PA has an aging population (youngsters are leaving the state) which favors McCain. And sadly, PA is one of the more racist states in the union, so the Bradley effect is likely to eat Obama’s lunch there. The result will be a weaker-than-usual showing for Obama in the big cities, and PA will fall to McCain. I won’t call that a sure thing, but it’s the way it looks today.

07/26/2008 (3:14 pm)

Internet Brownshirts Protect Obama From Critics

I can see why the Obama campaign would not like the video that follows. It draws attention to the most frightening aspect of Obama’s campaign, the quasi-religious feel that has its roots in cynical Chicago power-broker politics. However, what we’re seeing in response to such things is even more frightening; internet Brownshirts moving to prevent people from seeing the video. In this instance, apparently Obama supporters on the internet organized to flag the video en masse as “offensive,” with the result that one has to verify one’s age just to view it on YouTube.

So, I’m offering the video embedded here on my blog in an effort to counter the mob rule tactics of the hard left. The embed should skirt any content filters.

Make no mistake; this sort of behavior will have the full support of an Obama presidency, in fact if not necessarily in word. As the video’s author observes at Cake Secret, this is not the first time we’ve seen censorial attacks from the Obama campaign. I drew attention to a similar event myself not long ago. The Clintonistas noted attacks like this during their primary campaign, and now we’re seeing it in the general election; it seems characteristic of Obama’s supporters. This is most emphatically not how democratic institutions get protected.

So, do your duty for liberty, and watch the video, Building a Religion.

The video itself is clever, ominous, and cynical. The two images of coke lines (which make an implicit accusation for which there is only disreputable support) would probably earn this an R rating from the MPAA, so it’s not entirely wrong to call it inappropriate; however, while I support content-based filtering, I’m also completely sure that is not why the video was flagged. In fact, I’d willingly make a large wager that if you could get them to answer honestly (which is doubtful), most of the people who flagged this as offensive would argue on other topics that content censorship is inherently wrong.

To add one of my pet peeves: please don’t call what they did “censorship.” Censorship is defined as content editing by a governmental entity. This is content editing by a mob, which is something different, and in fact more frightening.

07/26/2008 (9:05 am)

And the Crowd Goes Wild

Finally, a politician telling the relevant truth. In front of the American GI Forum Convention in Denver yesterday, McCain denounced “the audacity of hopelessness,” while comparing Obama’s dismal record on the Iraq war to his own. Text supplied by Power Line.

Senator Obama and I also faced a decision, which amounted to a real-time test for a future commander-in-chief. America passed that test. I believe my judgment passed that test. And I believe Senator Obama’s failed.

We both knew the politically safe choice was to support some form of retreat. All the polls said the “surge” was unpopular. Many pundits, experts and policymakers opposed it and advocated withdrawing our troops and accepting the consequences. I chose to support the new counterinsurgency strategy backed by additional troops — which I had advocated since 2003, after my first trip to Iraq. Many observers said my position would end my hopes of becoming president. I said I would rather lose a campaign than see America lose a war. My choice was not smart politics. It didn’t test well in focus groups. It ignored all the polls. It also didn’t matter. The country I love had one final chance to succeed in Iraq. The new strategy was it. So I supported it. Today, the effects of the new strategy are obvious. The surge has succeeded, and we are, at long last, finally winning this war.

Senator Obama made a different choice. He not only opposed the new strategy, but actually tried to prevent us from implementing it. He didn’t just advocate defeat, he tried to legislate it. When his efforts failed, he continued to predict the failure of our troops. As our soldiers and Marines prepared to move into Baghdad neighborhoods and Anbari villages, Senator Obama predicted that their efforts would make the sectarian violence in Iraq worse, not better.

And as our troops took the fight to the enemy, Senator Obama tried to cut off funding for them. He was one of only 14 senators to vote against the emergency funding in May 2007 that supported our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. …

Three weeks after Senator Obama voted to deny funding for our troops in the field, General Ray Odierno launched the first major combat operations of the surge. Senator Obama declared defeat one month later: “My assessment is that the surge has not worked and we will not see a different report eight weeks from now.” His assessment was popular at the time. But it couldn’t have been more wrong.

By November 2007, the success of the surge was becoming apparent. Attacks on Coalition forces had dropped almost 60 percent from pre-surge levels. American casualties had fallen by more than half. Iraqi civilian deaths had fallen by more than two-thirds. But Senator Obama ignored the new and encouraging reality. “Not only have we not seen improvements,” he said, “but we’re actually worsening, potentially, a situation there.”

If Senator Obama had prevailed, American forces would have had to retreat under fire. The Iraqi Army would have collapsed. Civilian casualties would have increased dramatically. Al Qaeda would have killed the Sunni sheikhs who had begun to cooperate with us, and the “Sunni Awakening” would have been strangled at birth. Al Qaeda fighters would have safe havens, from where they could train Iraqis and foreigners, and turn Iraq into a base for launching attacks on Americans elsewhere. Civil war, genocide and wider conflict would have been likely.

Above all, America would have been humiliated and weakened. Our military, strained by years of sacrifice, would have suffered a demoralizing defeat. Our enemies around the globe would have been emboldened. …

Senator Obama told the American people what he thought you wanted to hear. I told you the truth.

Fortunately, Senator Obama failed, not our military. We rejected the audacity of hopelessness, and we were right. Violence in Iraq fell to such low levels for such a long time that Senator Obama, detecting the success he never believed possible, falsely claimed that he had always predicted it. … In Iraq, we are no longer on the doorstep of defeat, but on the road to victory.

Senator Obama said this week that even knowing what he knows today that he still would have opposed the surge. In retrospect, given the opportunity to choose between failure and success, he chooses failure. I cannot conceive of a Commander in Chief making that choice.

This is the unvarnished truth, something depressingly rare from politicians.

From a tactical standpoint, it’s a good start. About a week from now, we need similar points added regarding Obama’s purely opportunistic shifts on FISA, Israel, abortion, campaign finance, gun control, NAFTA, and capital punishment (hat tip to Strata-Sphere for the flip-flop list.) I believe there are similar issues that can be drawn from Obama’s tenure in the Illinois Senate as well. However, Iraq is the keynote issue here, and deserves a little time standing on its own in the public eye. The fact is that Barack Obama is a shameless, opportunistic political chameleon, and will not tolerate well being painted as that.

What’s Obama going to say? In public, I imagine he’ll posture about the unfair attacks, “smears,” from his opponent, and remind us that he represents a break from those divisive politics of the past, probably with a veiled reference to his race to remind us what bigots we all are to criticize him. In private, this comment from a Progressive at Dean’s World gives us a view of the blow-back from the Left, and it’s not pretty.

So far, the Leftward blogs are silent. Score a solid punch for McCain.

Photo by AP/Carolyn Kaster.

07/25/2008 (9:21 am)

We Interrupt This Gush…

While the world is gushing about Obama’s speech full of leftist platitudes in Germany yesterday, I thought I’d toss this little treasure out here for your consideration. It’s from an article in The New Republic that expresses concern about how Obama’s relationship with the press has become arrogant and dismissive. The emphasis is mine.

Reporters who have covered Obama’s biography or his problems with certain voter blocs have been challenged the most aggressively. “They’re terrified of people poking around Obama’s life,” one reporter says. “The whole Obama narrative is built around this narrative that Obama and David Axelrod built, and, like all stories, it’s not entirely true. So they have to be protective of the crown jewels.” Another reporter notes that, during the last year, Obama’s old friends and Harvard classmates were requested not to talk to the press without permission.

07/24/2008 (7:00 am)

A Sober Reminder

In light of yesterday’s discussion of the EPA’s plan to institute central economic control in the US, I thought it would be worthwhile to review some features of the social and political pact under which our nation is organized. The emphasis is mine.

We hold these truths to be self-evident,

that all men are created equal,

that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights,

that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,

That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.

Consider these words carefully, and prayerfully.

07/24/2008 (6:59 am)

How Long Must This Go On?

Barack Obama made yet another gaffe yesterday, and yet another outright dishonest reversal of his previous statement. John Hinderaker at Power Line analyzes Obama’s current stance on Jerusalem, which turns out to be a somewhat softer version of “it should be undivided” than he originally claimed. Of course, he began his statement with the words, “I didn’t change my statement.” Liar.

Hinderaker further notes how Obama assigned himself membership of a Senate committee on which he does not serve, in order to claim its “deeds” as his own:

Now, in terms of knowing my commitments, you don’t have to just look at my words, you can look at my deeds. Just this past week, we passed out of the U.S. Senate Banking Committee, which is my committee, a bill to call for divestment from Iran, as a way of ratcheting up the pressure to ensure that they don’t obtain a nuclear weapon.

But Obama is not a member of the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee. Obama just made that up so he could count the committee’s action as one of “my deeds.”

Seriously, how long is this going to go on before the nation gets the message? This man is not qualified to be President; he’s not even qualified to be Senator. He’s a gaffe-prone empty suit, with no policy of his own, not enough scruples to stop himself from reflexive ass-covering, and not even enough force of character to sound credible without a teleprompter.

Nobody who votes for this creampuff deserves the right to vote.

07/23/2008 (1:00 pm)

Energy Oppressors On the March

The American version of Gosplan, the Soviet Union’s central economic planning agency, was unveiled about two weeks ago by, of all agencies, the Environmental Protection Agency. I’m not kidding.

The EPA released its Advanced Notice for Proposed Rule-Making earlier this month, declaring its intention to regulate… well, everything. Everything that has an engine, anyhow. And buildings. And cows. They’re going to regulate cows.

The story is that the International Center for Technology Assessment, an environmentalist group, petitioned the EPA back in 1999, asking them to regulate greenhouse gases from motor vehicles. The EPA denied their petition based on the claim that EPA lacked authority to regulate greenhouse gases. Several left-loon states took up their petition and marched it to the Supreme Court, where in 2007, deciding Massachusetts v. EPA, that infernal fool Anthony Kennedy joined the Seig Heil brigade of the Court leftists in declaring that yes, CO2 is a pollutant (it’s not — it’s plant food, but we can’t expect poor Anthony Kennedy to grasp this, can we?) and the EPA is authorized to regulate it.

So, now the EPA is unveiling its plans to regulate CO2. They plan to regulate every conceivable source of CO2. They plan to regulate it down to minuscule levels, far below the emissions levels that are currently, technologically possible. And in doing so, they plan to manage the entire US economy.

Here’s the description from the Heritage Foundation:

A few of the items the EPA wants to regulate: planes, trains, ships, boats, farm tractors, farm and mining equipment, lawn mowers, garden equipment, portable power generators, fork lifts, construction machines, and logging equipment. The EPA plan contemplates not only emission caps, but true central planning features such as mandated equipment redesign and operational changes. And that’s only the beginning.

The EPA plan also acknowledges that regulating carbon through the Clean Air Act would trigger regulation requirements under both the Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) and National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) programs. Under the PSD program, any building exceeding 100,000 square feet would be subject to an expensive permitting process for new construction or modification. The EPA conservatively estimates this item alone will bring 1 million new sources under its regulatory regime.

Just last month the Senate rejected, again, a cap-and-trade plan for regulating greenhouse gas emissions. But don’t fear, environmentalists: The EPA claims it can introduce a cap-and-trade plan by fiat. The EPA admits designing a cap-and-trade system “would entail working with a large number of diverse interest groups on difficult issues involving redistribution of wealth on a scale that typically is decided by Congress rather than the Executive Branch.”

But the bureaucrats at the EPA are undaunted. They fully believe they can and should design a system requiring massive “redistributions of wealth.”

Did you get all that? They’re going to mandate equipment designs. They’re going to dictate operational procedures. They’re going to regulate building sizes. They’re going to institute Cap and Trade by Executive fiat. They’re going to tell us what sort of LAWN MOWER we’re allowed to use.

It’s not law — yet. However, all it will take for this Beast to become the law of the land is for the EPA to issue its final version, and the Chief Executive to refuse to stop it. Stroke of the pen, law of the land. Kinda cool.

This is the way the American experiment in self-government ends: a President gets coerced into nominating a spineless judge to the Supreme Court (do you really think Robert Bork would be flip-flopping between the left and right the way Kennedy has?), then roughly 20 years later, the Court authorizes central planning in the form of carbon emission control, and then an agency of the Executive branch implements it by fiat. Poof! The experiment is over. Huzzah for the Commissariat!

I’m not convinced that the election of a Republican President can stop this. McCain has showed remarkable gullibility on the subject of carbon emissions; he might just agree to these shackles on American ingenuity. There’s absolutely no question, however, that Obama would allow these regulations to take effect; he dreams about central control at night. This is a neo-Marxist dream coming true — and a nightmare for free people everywhere.

The Bush administration has been fighting diligently on all our behalf to keep the hard leftists in the EPA under control; this is what that ugly Nazi Waxman has been griping about for all these years, the Bush administration preventing the leftists from saying whatever they like through the EPA. He calls this “censorship;” I call it “responsible administration,” noting that the EPA does, in fact, report to the President. However, President Bush’s term is nearly over, and as stressful and unsatisfying as his tenure has been, and if this EPA nightmare comes to pass we may look back and long for it.

Hat tip goes to the Wall Street Journal for bringing this to our attention. We need a groundswell of outrage to stop the American system from being shackled into poverty by bureaucrats. Take it to the streets, people.

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