masthead-highres

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Lift Federal Ban on Offshore Energy Production

The National Center issued a press release a few minutes ago on offshore drilling:
Policy Groups to Congress: Lift Federal Ban on Offshore Energy Production

Washington, D.C. - The National Center for Public Policy Research has delivered a coalition letter to all 435 members of the U.S. House of Representatives, urging them to remove the moratoria on offshore oil and gas production.

"States that wish to permit oil and natural gas leasing in their adjacent offshore waters should be afforded the right to do so," said Peyton Knight, director of environmental and regulatory affairs for The National Center. "It is far past time for the federal ban on such leasing to be lifted."

National policy organizations that signed the letter include: Coalitions for America, the American Conservative Union, FreedomWorks, Americans for Tax Reform, the Competitive Enterprise Institute, the Council for Citizens Against Government Waste and the National Defense Council Foundation.

State policy organizations, including the Mississippi Center for Public Policy, the Virginia Institute for Public Policy, the Maine Heritage Policy Center and Kansas Taxpayers Network signed the letter as well.

The letter notes that Cuba recently announced its intention to permit China to explore oil and gas production just 50 miles off the coast of Key West, Florida. America's self-imposed ban on offshore drilling means that Cuba can develop resources in its portion of the Florida Straits, yet the U.S. can't do the same on its side.

"Increased energy costs have become a burden for millions of Americans," said David Ridenour, vice president of the Center. "Developing these vital resources in the Outer-Continental Shelf would help lower energy prices for the over 60 million American homes that depend on natural gas for heating."

A copy of the letter can be found online at http://www.nationalcenter.org/OCSLetter0606.pdf.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 4:40 PM

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Peer Review

This is a very good idea:
In the interest of full disclosure, the AP should release the names of the "more than 100 top climate researchers" they attempted to contact to review "An Inconvenient Truth." AP should also name all 19 scientists who gave Gore "five stars for accuracy." AP claims 19 scientists viewed Gore's movie, but it only quotes five of them in its article. AP should also release the names of the so-called scientific "skeptics" they claim to have contacted.
Why not?

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 9:53 PM

Monday, June 26, 2006

Noteworthy

Noteworthy on global warming.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 2:23 AM

It's for the Children

...not.

The Wall Street Journal, through the National Center for Policy Analysis, shows how government-mandated minimum wages can hurt young people.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 2:14 AM

Sunday, June 25, 2006

The Era We Live In

I realize we live in an era in which people will publish nearly anything without a sense of shame, but even by that standard, this seems excessive.

I assume there is profit in it for them somehow, but I don't see precisely how. Web traffic, perhaps?

I wish they'd leave my name out of it, though.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:10 AM

A Terrifying Message from Al Gore

This "Futurama" spoof of "An Inconvenient Truth" (Al Gore's global warming movie) is pretty funny.

If yu haven't already seen it -- as I post this, I see over 350,000 people have already viewed it on YouTube -- it might give you a chuckle.

Hat tip: Don Surber and Lucianne.com.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:23 AM

Friday, June 23, 2006

Property Rights News from New London

Bizzy Blog is covering the negotiations and other news from New London, Connecticut, almost by the hour.

Plenty there -- please take a look.

Also included: Bizzy's (Tom's) take on President Bush's property rights Executive Order today.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 11:54 PM

Thursday, June 22, 2006

On Heritage Areas

Peyton Knight has a column on TownHall.com in which he examines the newly-proposed "Journey Through Hallowed Ground National Heritage Area."

National Heritage Areas often are marketed as the kinds of things everyone whould be for, but Peyton points out that it may not be neither wise nor fair to appropriate federal tax dollars to pre-selected groups of individuals to empower them to lobby local officials to enact policies they and their federal sponsors favor.

At best, these Heritage Areas are equivalent to earmarks. At worst, they are anti-democratic, anti-federalism and anti-Bill of Rights.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:31 AM

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Some Global Warming Scare Tactics are So Dumb, They're Funny

Tim Graham picks apart "Countdown to Doomsday," a Matt Lauer special on the environment.

This is an above-average read, because Tim contrasts the nonsense in this 2006 special with another too-typical burst of econutism, a special NBC three-part series on the environment in 1990 that made, as Tim puts it, "wild predictions of doom." Sixteen years later, as Tim notes, the doom has yet to appear...

...which brings me to nonsense from another network, the jaw-droppingly dumb attempt by ABC to illustrate the impacts of global warming by asking strangers operating without fact-checkers (for, as we know, real journalists use fact-checkers. ahem.) to email them anecdotes about "the impact of global warming in your life."

Anyone smart enough to take in O and emit CO2 knows you can't prove planetary warming (or planetary cooling, or planetary astonishment at ABC) from regional fluctuations, even IF ABC's "correspondents" get their facts right.

(Imaginary conversation: Sam: "Gee, Mabel, the tomaters ain't so big as last year's. It must be global warming." Mabel: "You planted them three weeks later this year, Sam, cuz you wuz glued to the telly." Sam: "Jus' waitin' fer the Matt Lauer special, Mabel. Ever since NBC tole me in 1990 I could soon tie my boat to the Washington Monument cuz of global warming, I bin waitin' for my chance to catch fish on the Mall. 'Bout time we got somethin' useful outa Washington.")

Rush Limbaugh had fun with this today, speculating that ABC isn't really expecting global warming anecdotes but instead is collecting the email addresses of the world's most gullible people, so ABC can send them spam.

If so, David Almasi will be getting a lot of spam, because he sent this message to ABC:
I lost all my bets at Preakness because Barbaro jumped the gate and could not compete. I blame global warming. It was a hot day.

When I was in Cape Cod a few weeks ago, it was too cold to go to the beach. It was also raining and we couldn't fully utilize the convertible we rented. I blame global warming.

Global warming caused Katrina. We gave money to charity that could have been spent on booze for me. I am adversely affected due to this reallocation of funds.
Poor David. Next, he'll probably be afflicted by poison ivy.

P.S. David Almasi tells me he sent ABC a second email telling them about the time he was was trapped in the NYC library after a tidal wave hit the city.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 5:40 PM

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Los Angeles Times Says Paulson Critics Dislike His "Hobby"

In so many ways does the mainstream press demean conservatives who work on environmental issues.

In this Los Angeles Times piece by Jim Puzzanghera, conservatives wary of the Henry Paulson nomination are described as "causing problems" for Paulson because Paulson likes to watch birds.

Here's how the article begins:
WASHINGTON - As a three-decade Wall Street veteran and chairman of one of the nation's premiere investment banks, Henry M. Paulson Jr. makes a living watching markets.

But it's his hobby of watching birds that is already causing problems for his nomination as the nation's next Treasury secretary.

An ardent environmentalist, Paulson is expected to be questioned during confirmation hearings about his role as chairman of the Nature Conservancy, and whether he adequately cleaned up the organization's questionable land sale and tax break practices. Another potential sticky issue: a decision by Goldman Sachs, the investment bank Paulson heads as chairman and chief executive, to donate 680,000 acres of land in a remote section of Chile to an environmental group with ties to his son...
Nice mental image the Times paints: Critics so extreme on environmental issues we find even bird-watching threatening.

If only we really were as petty as the Times paints us. The actual concerns of the conservative National Legal and Policy Center are here and here, the concerns of the Free Enterprise Action Fund are here, the Competititve Enterprise Institute's are here and our concerns are detailed here.

Birds don't seem to be the theme.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:16 AM

Monday, June 19, 2006

Glenn Reynolds: Easily Led?

No, no, no.

The line was "largely poor, uneducated, and easy to command."

Glenn Reynolds may have read Michael Kinsley.

That's always a bit of a risk.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:44 AM

Henry Paulson on Cap and Trade

Following up my post about the Weekly Standard's green praise of Treasury Secretary-designate Henry Paulson, I'm recommending this Grist article about Paulson, which says "Paulson also worked with environmental groups including the World Resources Institute and the Natural Resources Defense Council to develop a comprehensive environmental policy framework for Goldman Sachs, unveiled last November..."

Click on the link Grist kindly provides and you read what Paulson, the World Resources Institute and the Natural Resources Defense Council came up with.

An excerpt, as relating to global warming:
Goldman Sachs acknowledges the scientific consensus, led by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, that climate change is a reality and that human activities are largely responsible for increasing concentrations of greenhouse gases in the earth's atmosphere. We believe that climate change is one of the most significant environmental challenges of the 21st century and is linked to other important issues such as economic growth and development, poverty alleviation, access to clean water, and adequate energy supplies. How governments and societies choose to address climate change will fundamentally affect the way present and future generations live their lives. Goldman Sachs is very concerned by the threat to our natural environment, to humans and to the economy presented by climate change and believes that it requires the urgent attention of and action by governments, business, consumers and civil society to curb greenhouse gas emissions.

...As an institution that brings providers and users of capital together, we believe that capital markets can and should play an important role in creating opportunities to address today's environmental challenges. Markets are particularly efficient at allocating capital and determining the appropriate prices for goods and services we purchase. The government can help the markets in this regard by establishing a strong policy framework that creates long-term value for greenhouse gas emissions reductions and consistently supports and incentivizes the development of new technologies that lead to a less carbon-intensive economy. Working with governments, the private sector can then take the lead in further developing these markets, establishing better price transparency, creating incentives for innovation, and finding cost-effective alternatives. [Emphasis added] To that extent, we believe the following principles should guide public policy development:

* Policies and actions should be based firmly on science and rational economics.

* Policy frameworks should be based on market-based mechanisms to set clear, transparent and consistent price signals.

* Voluntary action alone cannot solve the climate change problem.

* Policies should encourage conservation and efficient use of energy as an important part of a comprehensive solution.

* Solutions must be global in scope.

* Climate change should be viewed in conjunction with other major challenges, e.g. conservation of ecosystems, access to water, poverty alleviation and economic growth.

* Implementation requires an integrated approach to identify where there is the greatest leverage to help mitigate potential problems.
In addition to the call for cap and trade, which I placed in italics for emphasis, I direct attention to the claim that "voluntary action alone cannot solve the climate change problem" and the notion that "scientific consensus" can be "led by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change."

It is a bit worrisome that a Bush cabinet official to-be believes scientific "consensus" comes from a U.N. agency. (For more on the merits of scientific consensus as a goal even when scientists are seeking it, go here.)

The Grist article, by the way, quotes an environmentalist vaguely implying that White House Chief of Staff Josh Bolten may have some environmental views similar to Paulson's. Bolten worked for Goldman Sachs from 1994-99. I have no idea, but I would not advise assuming that's true. For one thing, as this Washington Post article notes, Bolten has been known for his willingness to hear from dissenters; his proximity to someone holding a particular opinion should be be confused with his willingness to hold it himself.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:16 AM

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Weekly Standard: Adrift?

Quick on the heels of its recommendation that conservatives support the Senate pro-amnesty immigration bill (for political rather than principled reasons, yet), the Weekly Standard is apparently laying the groundwork for a change in the conservative position on global warming.

From the June 12 issue, in an article by Contributing Editor Irwin M. Stelzer praising Treasury Secretary-designate Hank Paulson with all the enthusiasm usually reserved for people named Bush, comes this:
Then there is the environment, a policy area in which the Bush administration is in something of a time warp. No honest person can with certainty assert that global warming is a threat. But any responsible person can see that the evidence is sufficient to suggest that it might be, and that some action to contain emissions of greenhouse gases is an insurance policy worth having. Paulson is Wall Street's greenest titan, chairman of the Nature Conservancy, a bird-watcher, an advocate of a greenhouse gas emissions trading system for the United States and of mandatory curbs on emissions if voluntary action proves inadequate. At Goldman, he allocated $1 billion for investment in renewable energy and energy-saving projects. He is likely to make his voice heard in an administration that is said to be ready to move from its justifiable opposition to the Kyoto treaty to more positive proposals for emissions reduction.
No word from the Weekly Standard on the price tag of the "insurance policy worth having" (known as 'cap and trade' to those of us speaking plainly) as if 1) the cost wasn't billions, to be borne mostly by those who can least afford it, and 2) the "insurance policy" would actually lessen global warming IF (a big IF) the environmental left's position on global warming is accurate.

Will we soon see the Weekly Standard join the New Republic in name-calling skeptics of the notion that slowing the U.S. economy would have a notably beneficial impact on the world's weather?

And, speaking further on the Weekly Standard, but not on global warming: After noting for some time Fred Barnes's fawning coverage of Karl Rove, I wondered in April: If Karl Rove were to be indicted, would Fred Barnes spin it as a positive development?

Based on the Fred Barnes/Weekly Standard coverage of Fitzgerald's reported decision not to indict Rove, I'm guessing "yes." Barnes begins his article with "The lefties and the media are right about Karl Rove. That's why they're in a dither now that Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald has cleared Rove of any criminal wrongdoing in the overblown leak case..."

I'm not a lawyer, but I believe a decision not to indict is not in any respect the same thing as being "cleared" of "any criminal wrongdoing." There is such a thing as an "immunity agreeement," after all, and I believe Fred Barnes and the editors who presumably check his copy most likely have heard of it, as Monica Lewinsky had such a deal in a case that received a tad bit of media coverage, including in the Weekly Standard.

I'm not saying Rove committed a criminal act, by the way, or signed an immunity agreement. When I'm not reading the Weekly Standard (a magazine that used to be my favorite, but which recently has caused my contrarian impulses to kick in), I actually tend, all things equal, to be a fan of Rove. But I am wondering why Fred Barnes seems to want Tony Snow's job so much, and why the Weekly Standard, a magazine that so often in the past published truly thought-provoking pieces, so frequently lately seems to be adrift.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:37 AM

Whole Foods Founder: Freedom Movement Needs to "Re-Brand" Itself

Inspired by a daughter who is a serious fruit-and-vegetable lover, over the last year or so I've been shopping semi-regularly at Whole Foods, but I always figured I was probably one of the few non-lefties there.

Guess not, as a recent speech-cum-essay by Whole Foods Founder John Mackey, brought to my attention by Professor Bainbridge, makes clear.

A few of many choice quotes:
At the time I started my business, the Left had taught me that business and capitalism were based on exploitation: exploitation of consumers, workers, society, and the environment. I believed that "profit" was a necessary evil at best, and certainly not a desirable goal for society as a whole. However, becoming an entrepreneur completely changed my life. Everything I believed about business was proven to be wrong.

The most important thing I learned about business in my first year was that business wasn't based on exploitation or coercion at all. Instead I realized that business is based on voluntary cooperation. No one is forced to trade with a business; customers have competitive alternatives in the market place; employees have competitive alternatives for their labor; investors have different alternatives and places to invest their capital. Investors, labor, management, suppliers - they all need to cooperate to create value for their customers. If they do, then any realized profit can be divided amongst the creators of the value through competitive market dynamics.

In other words, business is not a zero-sum game with a winner and loser. It is a win, win, win, win game - and I really like that.
and
Freedom from government coercion is clearly a very, very important goal. But unless you live in a country like China, North Korea, Cuba, or Iran that lacks many personal liberties that we Westerners take largely for granted, freedom is not usually an important goal. American citizens mostly take their liberties for granted. Unlike the people in this audience, most Americans forget that vigilance is the eternal price we have to pay for protecting liberties.

Once we are free, or relatively free, to live our lives in the manner we choose, we must answer the question, "How then shall we actually live our lives?" Will we live our lives as hedonists, indulging ourselves with various amusements, diversions, and pleasures? Or will we choose the more difficult path of personal development and acceptance of social responsibility?

The freedom movement needs to reposition itself and re-brand itself. Personal freedom may be the first goal we work towards - but we can't stop there; it isn't enough. There is so much more to life. Using our freedom to take on greater social responsibility, as well as striving to reach our fullest potential as humans, needs to be a goal we support just as much as freedom from government coercion.
and
Who among you believes that socialized medicine is the answer to the health care crisis in America? The Left believes this is the answer: equal access to the health care system for all Americans - no one denied for financial reasons, in a single-payer system. Socialized health care seems very idealistic, and as such, appeals to many people. However, as Milton Friedman taught us, there is no such thing as a free lunch - in health care or anywhere else. We know the single-payer system means health care rationing through queuing up in long lines for expensive treatments and denial of some services to many of the elderly as too expensive. We know that uncaring government bureaucrats will run a single-payer system and, without the discipline of competitive markets, won't provide quality customer and patient service. We know that health care innovation and progress will slow down tremendously, because much less money will be dedicated to medical research, since such research is long-term by nature and easily sacrificed to current budget limitations.

What would happen with true competition in school choice, with students and parents becoming truly empowered consumers instead of virtual prisoners and slaves? We would have an explosion in educational innovation.
The United States continues its steady movement toward socialized health care partly because the freedom movement has not articulated an idealistic vision of what would be possible if we deregulated health care. We have fought a strictly defensive battle on this issue, and that strategy needs to change.
and
Who among you has read Bjorn Lomborg's book, "The Skeptical Environmentalist"? I cannot recommend this great book to you more highly. It convincingly demonstrates that the doom-and-gloom, apocalyptic crowd has greatly exaggerated the decline of the global environment in many important areas such as air and water quality and the decline in natural resources. With that qualifier said, I still believe the freedom movement has erred strategically by letting the Left own the ideal of environmental sustainability.

The ideal of environomental sustainability is certainly going to grow in importance over the next several years. It isn't going to fade away. I personally think it is the Achilles heel of the freedom movement, and until it is proactively embraced as an important ideal by members of the freedom movement, the movement will become less and less relevant to the idealistic young in American society.

My company currently employs over 39,000 people. I estimate that nearly 100% of them care greatly about environmental sustainability. I know that I personally do. At Whole Foods, Team Members drift to the Left primarily because of the environmental issues.

Maintaining environmental sustainability is in the collective best interest of everyone. No one will argue that premise. The real question is, "What are the best ways to do it?" What are the trade-offs we need to make? When the freedom movement ignores the issue of environmental sustainability, the Left will dominate the discussion of the issues.

Remember that the Left's goal remains either to cripple or to destroy capitalism. The freedom movement must embrace the ideal of environmental sustainability but must bring to the debate its commitment to property rights, markets, and proper incentives to effectively resist the inevitable leftist arguments for more bureaucratic controls and regulations. Why should the Left own the ideals (and it does own them right now) of love, caring, and compassion - especially with its track record? How can a movement that in its extreme form is responsible for the murders of more than 100 million people, slaughtered in the name of its ideals, own those three words? What the Left has done is create a world of victims and a cult of victimology. Then the Left accuses everyone who disagrees with it of lacking love, caring, and compassion. What a bunch of baloney! The freedom movement must embrace the ideals of love, caring, and compassion, and return these words to their true meanings. Love, caring, and compassion do not equate to guilt, and they do not mean pandering to the demands of the various victims of the world. Spreading freedom through the world is the most loving, caring, and compassionate thing we can do for people. True freedom allows people to create prosperity and gives them the opportunity to move up Maslow's hierarchy of needs towards self-actualization. True freedom gives us the opportunity to take social responsibility and to work towards making the world a better place.
I could go on, but I risk violating copyright. (I do recommend the whole thing.)

Another aspect of Mackey's essay I want to draw attention to is his view that what he calls the "Freedom Movement" (he is a self-described Libertarian politically) spends too much time on some issues to the detriment of the movement's interests. Specifically, he says the movement spends too much time advocating legal drugs, porn, prostitution and guns and not enough time on issues such as educational choice, privatizing Social Security, deregulating health care and tort reform.

I agree with this, mostly (I would not include guns). I am not a libertarian, but I think the libertarian philosophy has much to offer that gets lost because the movement is identified with drugs and sex. Regardless of the merits of the Libertarian position on those matters, constant references to drugs and sex in libertarian periodicals, etc. tends in my view to make the movement look adolescent. A self-imposed ten-year ban on discussion of sex and drug issues would, in my estimation, truly help libertarians receive widespread acceptance of their ideas.

Hat tip: Professor Bainbridge

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:30 AM

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Canada Again

Yet another excellent global warming article appears in the Canadian Press.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 11:59 PM

Media Matters Misleads on CEI's Horner, Kyoto & Global Warming

Media Matters is criticizing the Competitive Enterprise Institute's Chris Horner for saying, on the Fox New Channel's Your World with Neil Cavuto, that ratification of the Kyoto global warming treaty was not a high profile for President Bill Clinton during the Clinton Administration. The Media Matters headline reads: "On Fox's Your World, CEI's Horner Misled on Kyoto, Global Warming."

Media Matters says, in part:
On the June 13 edition of Fox News' Your World with Neil Cavuto, Chris Horner, counsel for the oil industry-funded Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI), claimed falsely that the Clinton administration chose not to submit the Kyoto Protocol to the Senate for ratification because it did not consider global warming a "high-profile issue." In fact, Senate Republicans made clear at the time that Clinton would not be able to garner enough votes in the Senate to ratify the treaty...

Objecting to former President Bill Clinton taking credit for efforts to curb global warming during his presidency, Horner claimed that Clinton "set the U.S. policy, which was [that] for the final three years of his presidency, the U.S. would not seek participation in -- that is ratification of -- Kyoto." Horner made the claim to advance his suggestion that the Kyoto Protocol, a treaty mandating that countries reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, "was not a high-profile issue or a priority issue for the Clinton administration, like, say, school uniforms. It was not even a low-priority issue, like, say, finding Osama bin Laden."

But, contrary to Horner's assertion, it was in fact Senate Republicans who made clear that they would not ratify the Kyoto treaty. As The Washington Post reported on December 11, 1997, just before the Kyoto agreement was reached, key Senate Republicans declared the treaty "dead on arrival..."
The Washington Post on December 11, 1997 may indeed have said, as Media Matters later demonstrates, that "key Senate Republicans declared the accord 'dead on arrival,' and a leading Democratic supporter urged that the Senate delay a vote in light of its bleak prospects." However, the saying of a thing is less important than the doing of the thing.

The "doing of the thing" occurred July 25, 1997 with passage of the Byrd-Hagel Resolution (S. Res. 98). Byrd-Hagel "express[ed] the sense of the Senate regarding the conditions for the United States becoming a signatory to any international agreement on greenhouse gas emissions under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change," that is, told the Clinton-Gore Administration what 95 out of 95 Senators present and voting were prepared to vote to ratify in a global warming treaty expected to emerge at the then-upcoming December 1997 global warming conference in Kyoto, Japan.

Byrd-Hagel was approved 95-0. It says, in part:
Resolved, That it is the sense of the Senate that--

(1) the United States should not be a signatory to any protocol to, or other agreement regarding, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change of 1992, at negotiations in Kyoto in December 1997, or thereafter, which would--

(A) mandate new commitments to limit or reduce greenhouse gas emissions for the Annex I Parties, unless the protocol or other agreement also mandates new specific scheduled commitments to limit or reduce greenhouse gas emissions for Developing Country Parties within the same compliance period, or

(B) would result in serious harm to the economy of the United States...
President Clinton approved a Kyoto Treaty that violated two out of two of these bi-partisan Senate requirements. Then Clinton declined to put up a fight to get the Senate to change its mind.

It seems to me that Chris Horner is right and Media Matters is wrong to criticize him. Senate Republicans may well have told Clinton Kyoto couldn't be ratified, but Senate Democrats -- indeed, 95 out of 95 Senators present and voting in July 1997 -- told Clinton the very same thing. And, if Clinton disagreed, he didn't do much to fight them.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:32 AM

Galileo's Interrogators had a Consensus

Another noteworthy global warming article appears in Canada's National Post.

By Terence Corcoran, this one says, in part:
It is now firmly established, repeated ad nauseam in the media and elsewhere, that the debate over global warming has been settled by scientific consensus. The subject is closed...

Back when modern science was born, the battle between consensus and new science worked the other way around. More often than not, the consensus of the time -- dictated by religion, prejudice, mysticism and wild speculation, false premises -- was wrong. The role of science, from Galileo to Newton and through the centuries, has been to debunk the consensus and move us forward. But now science has been stripped of its basis in experiment, knowledge, reason and the scientific method and made subject to the consensus created by politics and bureaucrats.

As a mass phenomenon, repeated appeals to consensus to support a scientific claim are relatively new. But it is not new to science. For more than a century, various philosophical troublemakers have been trying to undermine science and the scientific method. These range from Marxists who saw science as a product of class warfare and historical materialism -- Newton was a lackey of the ruling classes and pawn of history -- to scores of sociological theorists and philosophers who spent much of the 20th century attempting to subvert the first principles of modern, Enlightenment science...

Global warming science by consensus, with appeals to United Nations panels and other agencies as authorities, is the apotheosis of the century-long crusade to overthrow the foundations of modern science and replace them with collectivist social theories of science...

In short, under the new authoritarian science based on consensus, science doesn't matter much any more. If one scientist's 1,000-year chart showing rising global temperatures is based on bad data, it doesn't matter because we still otherwise have a consensus. If a polar bear expert says polar bears appear to be thriving, thus disproving a popular climate theory, the expert and his numbers are dismissed as being outside the consensus. If studies show solar fluctuations rather than carbon emissions may be causing climate change, these are damned as relics of the old scientific method. If ice caps are not all melting, with some even getting larger, the evidence is ridiculed and condemned. We have a consensus, and this contradictory science is just noise from the skeptical fringe...
Please read the whole thing.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:25 AM

Friday, June 16, 2006

World War II Gasoline Rationing Redux?

Project 21 Senior Fellow Deneen Moore has a letter in today's Wall Street Journal:
Regulate Gasoline, Create a Nightmare

In regard to the June 5 editorial-page commentary 'Tradeable Gasoline Rights' by Martin Feldstein: Mr. Feldstein believes that the government should be the arbitrator of individual liberty by allowing government authorities to design an economic scheme to regulate drivers' behavior and thereby control the amount of gasoline used in the nation each year.

Let's not be deceived -- tradeable gasoline rights is socialism cleverly disguised as a free-market mechanism. Why not suggest 'tradeable calorie rights' to address the obesity issue. The surgeon general can declare an ideal weight for American citizens and obese individuals can buy calorie rights from thin people.

Deneen Moore
Senior Fellow, Project 21
New York
Dr. Feldstein is a reputable fellow, to say the least, but his idea in this case sounds awful. Reminds me of World War II gasoline rationing. (Yes, I know we won that war.) I suspect an unintended consequence of Dr. Feldstein's idea, should it ever be implemented, would be to teach a generation of young people to hate the federal government ("sorry, junior, we can't go, Mommy used up her TGRs"). However, surrendering freedom to teach people to love freedom would be throwing the baby out with the bath water.

P.S. Speaking of gas prices, husband David has an op-ed out about this topic this week. Here's a link to it as it appeared in the Biloxi Sun Herald.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 4:39 PM

Interesting

Quin Hillyer, writing on the American Spectator Blog, is sharing his notes from a quite candid dinner conversation with Senator Arlen Specter (R-PA), Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 3:12 AM

Food for Thought

Writing in Canada's National Post, Dr. Tim Ball is wondering why Canadians should object to global warming.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 2:52 AM

Art Gallery Displays Junk, Mistaking it for Art

A note from Ed Haislmaier, a member of our board of directors, was so funny I had to share it:
I give you, below, the modern art world's version of 'man bites dog.'

While stories about art gallery cleaning crews inadvertently disposing of modern art they mistook for junk are no longer a novelty, this is the first I've heard of curators inadvertently exhibiting junk they mistook for modern art.

Even more hilarious is the explanation. The excuse is that the art was separated from its display, and thus judged as two different art pieces, resulting in rejection of the art and acceptance of the display -- based on the perceived artistic merit of each.

I don't recall Michelangelo ever having these kinds of problems.

Ed

British Art Gallery Displays Slate as Art

One of Britain's most prestigious art galleries put a block of slate on display, topped by a small piece of wood, in the mistaken belief it was a work of art.

The Royal Academy included the chunk of stone and the small bone-shaped wooden stick in its summer exhibition in London.

But the slate was actually a plinth and the stick was designed to prop up a sculpture.

The sculpture itself - of a human head - was nowhere to be seen...
I enjoyed the comment by the art museum in its own defense: "It is accepted that works may not be displayed in the way that the artist might have intended."

No wonder the British have a reputation for understatement.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 2:39 AM

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Should We Keep Reducing Air Pollution?

Writing in the Washington Post, Joel Schwartz of the American Enterprise Institute says:
...in the real world, the costs of air pollution control mean higher prices, lower wages and lower returns on investments, reducing the resources we have available for everything else that affects our health, safety and quality of life. If our air is already safe to breathe, then the EPA's never ending war on air pollution is costing us much and providing little in return.
But is our air already safe to breathe? Read the entire piece here to find out.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 2:27 AM

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Katrina Fraud Response: We Could Call It "Insurance"

I have an idea for preventing problems like this.

Some entrepreneurs could set up risk pools for people who live in hurricane areas, and other areas subject to weather. People could participate by sending funds to the risk pools, which the companies could conservatively invest, yet tapping them when needed to reimburse participants for losses due to Acts of God. The people living in the highest risk areas could pay a little extra, just to make it fair for everyone.

Who's with me?

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 10:23 PM

Who Knew?

Does this mean socialism doesn't work?

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 9:56 PM

AP Opposes Misleading the Public (Officially, Anyway)

The AP is running an "analysis" by Pete Yost beginning:
The decision not to charge Karl Rove shows there often are no consequences for misleading the public.
I'd say the continuing existence of the Associated Press proves that just fine.

However, if the AP seriously advocates passage of legislation making "misleading the public" a felony, it will be mighty entertaining to read the AP's proposal.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 6:16 PM

What Sesame Street Can Teach Us About Immigration

Brief thoughts on immigration policy for the blog from husband David:
When I recently had occasion to see the Sesame Place amusement park's policy on line cutting, I just couldn't help thinking of the current debate over immigration.

The policy states that "line cutting is prohibited at all rides, attractions and shows. Line cutting for any reason can result in ejection from the park."

When you really think about it, line cutting is what the current immigration debate is all about.

Millions of Mexicans who have entered the United States illegally have essentially cut in line in front of all those who played by the rules, followed our laws and are patiently waiting in line to gain legal status in the United States.

But rather than do as Sesame Place does and eject line cutters from the park, so to speak, the U.S. Senate would grant them broad amnesty and a path toward citizenship. In so doing, it would legitimize line cutters everywhere.

No one appreciates line cutters...

...except, apparently, the U.S. Senate.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:54 PM

Monday, June 12, 2006

We Thought It Was Just a Car, They Said

This is pretty funny.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 10:14 PM

How to Lower Gas Prices

If Congress wants to lower gasoline prices, here are ways to do it, says Kenneth P. Green of the American Enterprise Institute, writing for the National Center for Policy Analysis.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:38 AM

Saturday, June 10, 2006

I Guess the True Story Had Too Many Big Words

Being Scottish means you don't respect historical accuracy?

That's moronic, even by filmmaker standards.

Hat tip: Lucianne.com

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:54 AM

Friday, June 09, 2006

For Al Gore, the Truth Really Is Inconvenient

Tom Harris takes apart Al Gore's movie "An Inconvenient Truth" in an article in Canada's National Post.

It begins:
Albert Einstein once said, "Whoever undertakes to set himself up as a judge of truth and knowledge is shipwrecked by the laughter of the gods."

While the gods must consider An Inconvenient Truth the ultimate comedy, real climate scientists are crying over Al Gore's new film. This is not just because the ex-vice-president commits numerous basic science mistakes. They are also concerned that many in the media and public will fail to realize that this film amounts to little more than science fiction.

Gore's credibility is damaged early in the film when he tells the audience that, by simply looking at Antarctic ice cores with the naked eye, one can see when the American Clean Air Act was passed. Dr. Ian Clark, professor of Earth Sciences at the University of Ottawa (U of O) responds, "This is pure fantasy unless the reporter is able to detect parts per billion changes to chemicals in ice." Air over the United States doesn't even circulate to the Antarctic before mixing with most of the northern, then the southern, hemisphere air, and this process takes decades. Clark explains that even far more significant events, such as the settling of dust arising from the scouring of continental shelves at the end of ice ages, are undetectable in ice cores by an untrained eye...
I especially appreciated the quotation section. A sample:
"I can assure Mr. Gore that no one from the South Pacific islands has fled to New Zealand because of rising seas. In fact, if Gore consults the data, he will see it shows sea level falling in some parts of the Pacific." -- Dr. Chris de Freitas, climate scientist, associate professor, University of Auckland, N.Z.

"We find no alarming sea level rise going on, in the Maldives, Tovalu, Venice, the Persian Gulf and even satellite altimetry, if applied properly." -- Dr. Nils-Axel Morner, emeritus professor of paleogeophysics and geodynamics, Stockholm University, Sweden.

"Gore is completely wrong here -- malaria has been documented at an altitude of 2,500 metres -- Nairobi and Harare are at altitudes of about 1,500 metres. The new altitudes of malaria are lower than those recorded 100 years ago. None of the "30 so-called new diseases" Gore references are attributable to global warming, none." -- Dr. Paul Reiter, professor, Institut Pasteur, unit of insects and infectious diseases, Paris, comments on Gore's belief that Nairobi and Harare were founded just above the mosquito line to avoid malaria and how the mosquitoes are now moving to higher altitudes.

"Our information is that seven of 13 populations of polar bears in the Canadian Arctic Archipelago (more than half the world's estimated total) are either stable or increasing..... Of the three that appear to be declining, only one has been shown to be affected by climate change. No one can say with certainty that climate change has not affected these other populations, but it is also true that we have no information to suggest that it has." -- Dr. Mitchell Taylor, manager, wildlife research section, Department of Environment, Igloolik, Nunavut.

"The oceans are now heading into one of their periodic phases of cooling.... Modest changes in temperature are not about to wipe them [coral] out. Neither will increased carbon dioxide, which is a fundamental chemical building block that allows coral reefs to exist at all." -- Dr. Gary D. Sharp, Center for Climate/Ocean Resources Study, Salinas, Calif.

"Both the Antarctic and Greenland ice caps are thickening. The temperature at the South Pole has declined by more than one degree C since 1950. And the area of sea ice around the continent has increased over the last 20 years." -- Dr. R.M. Carter, professor, Marine Geophysical Laboratory, James Cook University, Townsville, Australia.
Go here to read additional quotations and the entire article.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 4:46 PM

Wayne Hage: A Defender of Rights Moves On

In an editorial, Sean Paige of the Colorado Springs Gazette honors property rights hero Wayne Hage, who died this week, aged 69.

The editorial says, in part:
...Hage and other sagebrush rebels are to us a comforting reminder that some parts of the West remain untamed and unbowed -- and that vestiges of the rugged individualism forged in the opening of the frontier lives on. Some argue that such sentiments are based on legends and myths, which need to be shelved or stamped out in order to pave the way for a "post cowboy" West. But we find something exhilarating and reassuring about the occasional flaring of sagebrush rebellions -- in knowing that there are some Americans in the Wayne Hage mold, who aren't going to back down from what they see as Uncle Sam's bullying ways. Theirs is a spirit that's too stubborn to crush.
An obituary telling a brief part of the Wayne Hage story and why his work is so important to the protection of the Constitution can be found here.

A much fuller picture can be found here, where Hage is quoted, saying, "A right undefended is a right waived."

Absolutely. God Bless Wayne Hage.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:53 AM

Health Care Double-Take

This Pittsburgh Post-Gazette story by Joe Fahy about a labor union rally in Pittsburgh promoting the expansion of Medicare benefits to "all U.S. residents" caused National Center Executive Director David Almasi to do a double-take.

That's because the guy in the photo identified as a member of the National Association of Letter Carriers -- the fellow holding a sign calling for a national health care system -- is married to the lady who was maid of honor at David's wedding to his wife, Nancy.

On the other hand, the health care expert, Edmund Haislmaier, who is quoted in the paper explaining that this proposal would likely require a major increase in the payroll tax (so that Americans at all income levels would pay 8 to ten percent of their gross wages on health care alone) is a member of The National Center's Board of Directors.

So I could say that the National Center family is of two minds about this vital health care issue -- except, we're not.

Medicare is already insolvent. Extending it to every American -- let alone every American and every illegal alien, as the unions seek -- would be insanity.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:27 AM

Thursday, June 08, 2006

"Hallowed Ground": A National Heritage Area History Lesson



Peyton Knight and I have a disagreement. He thinks the biggest problem with National Heritage Areas is that they spur federal interference in local decision-making and undermine the private property rights of small landowners.

I, on the other hand, am concerned more by the notion that they are earmarks by another name: A way for elected officials to slip federal funds to a pre-selected group of politically-connected insiders.

Who's right? Maybe both. Decide for yourself as you read this blog entry submitted by Peyton Knight about a recent National Center event designed to educate Congressional staffers and others about National Heritage Areas:
Last Friday, a delegation of preservation activists and congressional staffers set out on a day-long bus tour of Virginia historic sites. The outing was spearheaded by the Journey Through Hallowed Ground Partnership, a consortium of preservation groups, congressmen and senators who are lobbying to create a "Journey Through Hallowed Ground National Heritage Area" along a massive 175-mile corridor that encompasses portions of VA, WV, MD and PA.

Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA) has authored legislation, H.R. 5195, to create the Journey Through Hallowed Ground Heritage Area. Though billed as an innocuous plan that would simply bring national prominence to the region (and supposedly enhance tourism), Wolf's bill really amounts to a pork-barrel earmark to the National Trust for Historic Preservation (NTHP) and the rest of the JTHG partnership to help them "manage" land use in the region. Various special interests have been lobbying for the designation for nearly a decade.

According to the text of the legislation, if H.R. 5195 is approved, a pre-organized group of preservationists and federal employees would form a "management entity" that would be given a federal mandate to create an "inventory" of all property in the area that it wants "preserved," "managed," or "acquired" because of its "national historic significance." The entity would receive federal tax dollars and authorization to distribute money to local policymakers to encourage the policymakers to impose the policies sought by the management group. Under the legislation, eligibility for membership in the board of directors of the "management entity" would be limited to members of the partnership at the time of the legislation's enactment.

The policies sought by the entity will be up to them, but are likely to including zoning restrictions, land acquisitions, and other activities.

That's the skinny on the boondoggle; now back to Friday's tour.

When the "tourists" rolled up to their Oatlands Plantation tour stop, they encountered a group of property rights advocates led by The National Center for Public Policy Research. Keeping with the theme of the tour, The National Center's Ryan Balis donned a uniform like that worn by General Robert E. Lee, and Peyton Knight wore an Army General's uniform to symbolize General George C. Marshall, whose Dodona Manor home the tourists had visited earlier in the day. Mike Hardiman of Hardiman Consulting dressed as Thomas Jefferson. Several local folks also showed up to voice their concern and displeasure with Rep. Wolf's National Heritage Area scheme.

These aforementioned historical Virginians distributed flyers to members of the tour, and explained why the Journey Through Hallowed Ground Heritage Area would be bad for property rights and would harm the ability of local citizens to influence land use policies in their own communities. They also urged the congressional staffers and their special interest hosts that as they tour Virginia's hallowed ground, they should not only enjoy learning about the extraordinary lives of great historical figures, but also bear in mind the principles that the Founders held dear -- namely, property rights and limited, local government.

On a side note, the tour, complete with a catered dinner at the end, was underwritten by the Virginia Tourism Corporation's Virginia Works Program, which is funded by the General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Virginia. In other words, Virginia taxpayers footed the bill for this lobbying junket that was designed to convince the U.S. Congress to erode Virginians' autonomy over zoning and land use policy.

Be advised, Virginia taxpayers: This wasn't just another instance of "your tax dollars at work." This was your tax dollars at work against you.

(Note: To read more about the negative implications of National Heritage Areas, click here, here and here. To learn more about The National Trust for Historic Preservation's crusade against property rights, click here.)

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 9:23 PM

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Universal Health Care: Only for the Politically-Correct

Steve Mosher has an essay on the Grove City College website providing more details about the pro-life activist, 75-year-old Edward Atkinson, whse health care coverage has been restricted by Britain's National Health Service because of his pro-life activism.

Lefties are fond of saying that health care is a human right. If so, in Britain it is one you get only if you trade in your rights to speak freely and engage in political dissent.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 9:04 PM

Monday, June 05, 2006

Race-Based Native Hawaiian Government Questioned by Project 21 Members

Project 21 members are questioning the wisdom of separating Americans of Native Hawaiian descent from the rest of us under the law:
Black Activists Say Proposal to Create Separate, Race-Based, Hawaiian Government Conflicts with America's "Melting Pot" Traditions

Members of the black leadership network Project 21 are expressing concern that legislation now under consideration in the U.S. Senate conflicts with America's "melting pot" philosophy.

Senators are expected to vote as early as this week on "The Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act" (S. 147). This bill would create a native Hawaiian government with sovereign immunity akin to that enjoyed by Indian tribes. This proposed government, however, is likely to be determined on racial terms, restricting eligible voters exclusively to those of Hawaiian ancestry. Experts say this limits the voting pool to approximately 400,000 Americans nationwide - roughly 160,000 of whom do not reside on the Hawaiian Islands.

Critics say the proposal would create a virtual caste system on the Hawaiian Islands and, perhaps allow those affiliated with this race-based government to ignore various laws and safety regulations.

A similar plan for Hawaiian racial governance was found unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court in the case of Rice v. Cayetano. A decisive 7 to 2 decision in 2000 overturned a "Hawaiian only" provision for voting for the trustees of the state's Office of Hawaiian Affairs (OHA), a quasi-governmental native Hawaiian lobbying organization. The OHA is now a chief proponent of S. 147.

"Allowing a race-based native Hawaiian government would create an Orwellian situation where equality and privilege is based on race and ethnicity," said Project 21 chairman Mychal Massie. "To think of such a thing in this day and age is abhorrent. To actually attempt to codify such a notion in America, after the abolition of such racial hierarchy as slavery here and apartheid abroad, is contemptible. This plan proves that racism and bigotry can still find a foothold in our society."

While this race-based government finds support among the Hawaiian political class and their paid advocates, a May 2006 poll commissioned by the Grassroots Institute of Hawaii found almost 67 percent of the population of Hawaii opposes S. 147, and over 80 percent generally oppose race-based preferences. Almost 70 percent of Hawaiian residents would also prefer to see a statewide referendum on the subject matter of S. 147 rather than having it decided solely at the federal level.

Furthermore, a majority of commissioners of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights recently approved a report critical of S. 147. Commission chairman Gerald Reynolds said the bill "would authorize a government entity to treat people differently based on their race and ethnicity."

"This proposal is evidence of the complete disregard elected officials, on all levels, appear to have for the will of the people they are sworn to represent," said Project 21's Massie. "Nearly 70 percent of all Hawaiians oppose the legislation, yet they seem to be ignored. Those who have taken an oath to act in the best interest of the people now appear poised to thumb their noses, turn their backs and do what will benefit them and their colleagues."
The entire press statement is here.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 4:33 PM

PC Weather Forecasts?

As the hurricane season begins, BizzyBlog reminds us that some environmentalists want to fire weather forecasters who call 'em as they see 'em.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:59 AM

Friday, June 02, 2006

Kelo Update: The Latest in New London

If you care about property rights and already subscribe to and read the New London (CT) Day newspaper, then don't bother clicking this link.

Otherwise, you might want to.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 2:10 PM

College Republicans Mock Global Warming Hysteria By Hosting Beach Parties

When it comes to College Republicans, environmental columnist Edward Flattau apparently has no sense of humor.

He writes:
Whatever happened to the Republican Party of Teddy Roosevelt, a political party distinguished by its forward-looking environmental policy? Today, we have the College Republican National Committee (CRNC) urging its 200,000 student members on 1500 campuses to hold beach parties to mock the threat of global warming. If this is representative of the generation that is going to inherit the earth, the earth is in trouble big-time.
Yet, of the Washington Times, Mr. Flattau reportedly once said, "I am not aware of any regular nationally syndicated environmental columnist emerging... In fact, the only daily newspaper I see that regularly runs at least three or more environmental op-ed pieces (albeit from different authors) a week is the Washington Times. I find most of the pieces repugnant from an ideological standpoint, but at least they are paying attention."

So, too, are the College Republicans.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 11:08 AM

Alarmist and Armageddonist Factoids Don't Write Themselves

As the Philadelphia Inquirer reports, it looks like Greenpeace was being unusually straightforward in Pennsylvania on Wednesday.

Hat tip: Commenter Brian at Balloon Juice.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:31 AM

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Wondering About the New Republic

David Hogberg, writing for the American Spectator, wonders about a certain lowbrow cast to the New Republic lately.

Specifically, David wonders if TNR is attempting to recoup circulation losses by imitating the Daily Kos.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:31 AM

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