Schumer’s post-election epiphany. My comment yesterday on Senator Schumer’s belated insights on Obamacare is being echoed today in various national media outlets that have added some revealing detail. Besides the senator from New York admitting that “the law has been disastrous for Democrats”, he now, yes now, acknowledges what the rest of us argued years ago. The most important statistic he redredges is that only “about 5% of the electorate” benefits from Obamacare. The more important truth is that in the large, 100% of the electorate and everyone else suffers from the steady destruction of one of the world’s finest healthcare systems. And this plague has yet to run its course over our fair land.
The liberal leader of the Senate rues the mistake Dems made in overlooking the economy during the 2009 depth of the depression, and instead focused on something that only appealed to the nation’s weak thinkers. In Schumer’s words – “Unfortunately, Democrats blew the opportunity the American people gave them. We took their mandate and put all of our focus on the wrong problem: health-care reform.” (more here)
We’re back in illegal alien season again. The lamestream has turned up the volume on referring to them as ‘undocumented immigrants’. This invokes images of old photographs of European refugees in shabby clothes, holding their few suitcases and bundles, waiting patiently and hopefully in line for one last screening by US officials before being granted entry into America. This scene was repeated for decades at ports of entry like New York (Ellis Island and Brooklyn Navy Yard), Boston, and San Francisco. Not everyone made it, hence the worried looks on most faces; some were put back on ships and sent home.
Retired lawyer and Union editorial board member Norm Sauer wrote another letter to the editor yesterday (here) about crime rates and gun ownership that predictably tied some undies of the looney Left in knots. A correspondent advised me that this caused one of these worthies, a critic and former employee of the newspaper, to even (gasp!) cancel his subscription. The point here again is that the Left demands that such voices as Sauer’s should not see print in a community newspaper. As the Gipper said, “There you go again.”
While we’re on The Union, the paper’s 20nov14 edition featured its lead editorial written by hard Left syndicated columnist Amy Goodman railing against the Keystone XL pipeline. Her argument centers on the claim of massive environmental damage that the pipeline will cause. Peripheral implications in the piece are the insane economic arguments made by our President and other prominent socialists. What she and her ilk will never understand is that it is only the richer and freer countries that can afford to maintain a good environment. Poor countries, especially of the collectivist kind, have had no ability whatsoever to successfully manage their environments. The poster children here are the USSR (now Russia) and China. Destroying a country’s economy is a sure way to guarantee that the country’s environmental concerns will disappear from its list of public priorities.
On amnesty and immigration reform we heard from President Obama last night that legalizing the residency of millions of illegal aliens is now something that he wants to abet, continue, and institutionalize in America’s new immigration policy. The actual process that this now formalizes consists of three steps – 1) get pregnant and sneak across the border, 2) lay low and give birth to a new American citizen, 3) apply for permanent residency as parents of an American child. The process, of course, has more steps that are the real reasons why our America Last political factions are in favor of Obama’s executive orders. For the recently interested in national affairs, these consist of 4) vote the Democrat ticket, and 5) support the Reconquista goals of La Raza and MALDEF.
Democrats are already denigrating their constituents by lying to them that Presidents Reagan and Bush1 did the same thing as President Obama. The truth is that the former presidents fixed an amnesty law with some oversights that was initially passed by Congress. This president is overwriting existing immigration law with imperial diktats fashioned from whole cloth - Congress has had no part in what Obama now intends.
In opposition to the continued porous border and lax immigration law enforcement policies is a growing group of the nation’s sheriffs and members of Congress. Organized by Sheriff Tom Hodgson of Bristol County, Massachusetts, they will gather on the steps of the Capitol on 10 December 2014 to join their voices in protesting the unconstitutional actions of our current federal government (more here). Sheriff Hodgson writes –
“As you know, the policies of recent years that encourage immigrants to illegally enter our country have created serious threats to our domestic and national security. The citizens of our nation are counting on the American Sheriffs to fulfill our oath to preserve law and order and live up to our responsibilities as guardians of the United States Constitution. Given the fact that 25 people in the United States are killed each day by illegal immigrants, and our schools are becoming overcrowded and more costly, our public health is threatened by new diseases and ailments introduced by people living in our communities illegally, and the fact that benefits are being given and violations of laws forgiven for a select group of non-citizens, makes clear our obligation to act now before we erode the confidence and faith citizens have in Sheriffs across the country and throughout our history.”
[update] Congressman Tom McClintock made this statement regarding the President's new immigration decree -
Last night, the President asserted a power to nullify existing immigration law by ordering the executive branch to ignore it. Further, he has ordered 34 million green cards to make possible the employment of illegal immigrants despite federal law that makes their employment a crime. This is a direct violation of his responsibility under Article II to “take care that the laws be faithfully executed,” and a usurpation of legislative authority which Article I grants solely to Congress.
The rule of law established in our Constitution forbids the President from selecting which laws he will enforce and which he will ignore or from choosing who must obey the law and who is above the law. It explicitly forbids him to make law by decree. This is the fundamental difference between a nation of laws and a nation of men.
Fortunately, the American Founders provided a variety of checks available to both the legislative and judicial branches. I expect these will begin now to be invoked.
[24nov14 update]RR reader/commenter and Union columnist George Boardman wrote what could be considered a hit piece on Sheriff Keith Royal in this morning’s paper. He led with the child porn investigation of county supervisor Terry Lamphier, but then spread out to cover other cases that Boardman thought was overreach by the Sheriff’s Department. The charge regarding Lamphier was that the sheriff, with undue haste, started what may turn out to be an unwarranted investigation that is now being pursued with unusual vigor.
What I missed in the column was the mention of any evidence that the sheriff had a choice in the matter of launching an investigation. Today the trafficking in and consuming of child pornography is a serious crime which when reported, especially in connection with a public official, must be duly investigated. In short, Keith Royal had no choice but to start an investigation as required by law.
And I also saw no evidence presented to back the column’s allegation that somehow the investigation has been prosecuted in an imprudent manner. To my knowledge there has been a minimum of information about the investigation released by the sheriff’s office, and most voices in the community are willing to wait for the facts and where they may lead. Supervisor Lamphier is innocent until proven otherwise, and would benefit from a timely resolution of this cloud over his head.
So the bottom line is that, while impugning Sheriff Royal, George Boardman did not connect the sheriff to the disclosure about Lamphier’s computer that led to the allegations and subsequent investigation. And neither did he substantiate anything amiss with the ongoing investigation. (But I will join Mr Boardman in being somewhat surprised that it required five, count them, five sheriff’s cruisers to assault the supervisor's residence in order to search the premises. By nature, experience, and reputation in the community, Mr Lamphier has been a most agreeable and non-violent person imaginable.)
[This is the transcript of my regular KVMR commentary broadcast of 19 November 2014.]
Last night, after six years of delays, Dirty Harry finally brought the Keystone XL pipeline vote to the floor of the Senate where it failed to pass by one vote. This vote has been put off for more hokey reasons than you can count, and was finally allowed by the Democratic Senate only to give Senator Mary Landrieu of Louisiana one last chance for re-election on the claim she has been a strong proponent of our national fossil fuels energy program, which is not even close to being true. But such is politics.
Had the bill passed, it would have joined its twin in the House, and wound up on the president’s desk. There, according to the president’s own words and recent pronouncements from the WH, it would have been vetoed. Now why, you ask, would President Obama veto the construction of an obviously beneficial piece of national infrastructure that creates jobs, carries crude in the most environmentally safe way, while generating revenues and taxes in the process?
Taking the president at his word, the answer lies in some combination of the man’s profound ignorance of economics, his embrace of leftwing ideology, and/or an utter contempt for the intellectual acumen of his voter base. First, he has no idea how global markets work when he claims that the piped Canadian oil would be exported from Louisiana refineries, thereby having “no effect on fuel prices in the United States”. The rest of us know that crude oil is a fungible commodity on the world market – supply or demand in one part quickly affects prices all over.
In the revelation of this ignorance the president was joined by Sen Markey of Massachusetts and a number of other Democratic senators. Still, some wonder why we have had the slowest economic recovery on record, and that leftwing governments worldwide continue to have problems with their economic policies.
Then there’s our own Senator Barbara Boxer opposing the pipeline on environmental grounds, citing that fracked oil is the “dirtiest” crude in the world, and concluding that stopping the pipeline would somehow reduce production of such oil and protect our environment. The fact that Keystone would have no impact on the amount of fracked oil produced and its transport to market is a foregone conclusion. Regardless that eventually it will be safely piped across the US or Canada, makes no impact on the mind of this woman. She is ignorant or a cynical liar, you decide.
Finally, the Democrats hold their voters in the lowest regard when it comes to debating the pros and cons of their socialist agenda for the country. This was most recently confirmed as Obamacare was sold to the demonstrated and subsequently admitted “stupid American voter” with the biggest pack of government lies in recent memory. And according to the administration’s arguments against Keystone XL, stopping that pipeline deserves nothing less.
But today not all the news from the energy sector is bad. While America’s energy reserves and production are approaching all-time highs, we hear that Sunfire, a German company in Dresden, has finally demonstrated a commercially viable way to convert water and CO2 into synthetic petroleum-based fuels like diesel and kerosene. The process involves using electricity to convert water to steam from which the oxygen is removed leaving hydrogen. Using what is known as the Fischer-Tropsch process, CO2 which is harvested from the atmosphere, is then combined with the hydrogen to produce the end products. The potential for this method of making synthetic fuels has been known, studied, and variously applied for years, but now Sunfire has finally shown how it can be done at commercially viable conversion efficiencies. And the environmental benefits of its large scale applications using wind and solar sourced electricity are obvious. (H/T to reader and more here)
But not so fast. Given the perfidy of governments, the way to market for such a technology is yet not certain. Sunfire’s CTO says, “It is now a matter of regulatory factors falling into place in a way which gives investors a sufficient level of planning reliability. Once that has occurred, it will be possible to commence the step-by-step substitution of (extracted) fossil fuels.”
My name is Rebane, and I also expand on this and related themes on georgerebane.com where the transcript of this commentary is posted with relevant links, and debated extensively. However my views are not necessarily shared by KVMR. Thank you for listening.
RR has reported on the many studies that show people of conservative bent vastly outspend liberals in contributions to private charities (and that, dollar for dollar, private charities are enormously more effective in helping the poor and disadvantaged than are government programs). The intuitive reasons for that are easy to grasp, at least for many of us, and they are backed by an analysis of the data.
The 2013 report - ‘Who Really Gives? Partisanship and Charitable Giving in the United States’ - from MIT by Michele F. Margolis and Michael W. Sances attempts to recover from this embarrassment by arguing that if you control for certain factors, then we can see both the Left and Right in a more equitable light, even though the Right still gives more than the Left. (H/T to a reader working on a related report for the link to this one.)
For those recently arrived on Earth, the proximal reason for the disparate giving is that liberals, who are mostly secular humanists, look to an all-encompassing and providing government to take care of the needy, while conservatives are taught and practice that it is an individual responsibility to fill that gap. The interesting corollary is that most of the tax dollars for such ‘government giving’ then also comes from the conservatives as implied by Margolis and Sances. (BTW, to see where in the country who gives how much, here is an interesting website by Chronicle of Philanthropy.)
In any event, the Margolis and Sances report turns out to be a secular humanist bamboozle of the kind in which the Left is a demonstrated and practiced expert (cf. most recently MIT’s Jonathan Gruber’s apologetics for lying about the construct and operation of Obamacare to the “stupid American voters”). They use a lot of statistical mumbo-jumbo to paper over their revealing introductory admission that the results come about by having ‘controlled’ for disparities in income/wealth and religiosity between the two ideological cohorts.
Well yes, in the aggregate conservatives have life philosophies that to a greater degree promote individual initiatives and risk taking enterprises that garner more income and wealth, all which then allows them to give a larger dollar amount to the charities of their choice. And yes, conservatives are more religious, therefore they do a lot of their giving through faith-based organizations like churches and synagogues. And, of course, they do not trust wealth redistribution through government or lackey NGOs, so they don’t direct their monies to the needy through those channels – that’s what makes them conservatives in the first place.
But what the non-technical reader (let alone the nation’s innumerates) don’t catch in such reports is the statistical bamboozle of ‘factoring out’ or ‘controlling for’ to achieve support for your desired conclusion. These processes have the panache of rigorous science that the layman seldom questions. You should know that it is always possible to factor out the main causal variables in a dataset so that you can essentially wind up with a blob of scattered noise equally distributed between contending cohorts that then appears to give any level of desired parity – in the present case that there’s not much difference in the giving behaviors of conservatives and liberals.
The conclusion is so much bovine scat as any tally of sourced monies going to the poor and needy through (secular or religious) private charities demonstrates. And this conclusion is even visible in the contorted presentation by Margolis and Sances. ‘Touche Monsieur le Puuzy Kat!’ (Remember the famous musketeer Tom & Jerry cartoon?)
Random thoughts on a Saturday morning. The beautiful fall foliage on our trees is now on the back side of the power curve, but still saying ‘look at me’ as the last leaves drift to the ground. At our house I make a big breakfast on Saturday morning. It is always a panful of vegetables sautéed in spices and olive oil, and then my piece de resistance Eggs Rebane. The latter is a multi-layered frittata that has all kinds of goodies in it of different kinds of meats, cheeses, spices, layered squashes in season, etc. During the summers starting about the end of June, Jo Ann’s ‘farm’ starts pumping out veggies of marvelous varieties that overwhelm our table and larder, and become a steady supply to friends who are similarly addicted. Sunday was the last harvest of late tomatoes and squashes. Now the farm will be readied for the long winter with just a few ‘perennials’ like chard and parsley left to weather the weather.
This morning was double duty for me since it was also Bread Day at our house. When Jo Ann decides we need more bread, she takes out my two jars of sourdough starter from the bottom drawer of the frig, and sets them on the counter. That tells me that the next day I make bread, a process that begins with recharging the starters in the evening and letting them bubble up overnight. First thing in the morning I start my process of making two to four loaves of the requested breads, usually of two types. I am now into my 17th year of being the family’s baker of literally all the bread we have eaten. I use only my own natural leaveners and make the whole thing by hand, not even the KitchenAid mixer gets to play. Our neighbor has also caught the baking bug, and we often ‘talk bread’. Some day I threaten to make an outdoor baking oven that I can pump up to 700+F for that awesome oven spring.
We eat breakfast with our print copies of The Union, the WSJ, and the everpresent iPad for online news, commentary, and answers to reference questions served up by the very responsive Siri, Ms Google, and WolframAlpha. This morning’s WSJ front page had the nearby picture of Germany’s Angela rubbing noses with a Maori dancer during her New Zealand visit. I thought it wonderful how a European head-of-state (OK, Chancellor) can easily pay her respects to a foreign culture through such ceremonies and observing other local customs while on their travels.
Our presidents and diplomats have also shown such deference in similar situations – I always note how our guys and gals awkwardly keep both feet flat on the floor when sitting with Arabs and other Muslim notables. Showing the soles of your shoes communicates disrespect in the world of Islam.
But these thoughts always remind me how asymmetrical are such international displays of cultural sensitivity. On our part, we don’t ask or even expect our foreign guests to reciprocate our American customs. From less developed countries their diplomats almost always arrive wearing some trappings of national or ethnic dress. And when we feed, entertain, lace their palms with cash, or sit with them, we continue to defer to their sensitivities. There is no reciprocal ‘When in Rome …’ behaviors required of or extended by our visitors (save wearing the odd cowboy hat at a ranch BBQ). It is as if we were ashamed of our own cultural customs both overseas and at home. For some reason we have to be the ever-sensitive ones while they bear no such burdens. I don’t much cotton to such kow-towing because it brings us no profit here or around the world.
You are spared more because my bread dinger-ding just went off.
[Obamacare architect Jonathan Gruber admits multiple times that "stupid Americans" had to be lied to in order to get President Obama's 'landmark achievement' into a law that now daily exposes how cynical and autocratic our government has become, and how the lickspittle lamestream is supporting the Big Lie (more here). But then RR reported that way back when it was happening.]
Income inequality in America was badly misrepresented in the recent book by Piketty and Goldhammer. Their Capital in the 21st Century (2014) continues to receive progressive paeans and lamestream’s lip service on a daily basis. Therein the authors cite the now notorious study by Piketty and Saez that is so full of holes in both reasoning and facts that it has motivated other economists to reexamine the data and point out the obvious fallacies with which Capital is littered.
What the hockey-stick portrayal of global temperatures did in bringing a sense of crisis to the issue of global warming is now being replicated in the controversy over income inequality, thanks to a now-famous study by Thomas Piketty and Emmanuel Saez, professors of economics at the Paris School of Economics and the University of California, Berkeley, respectively. Whether the issue is climate change or income inequality, however, problems with the underlying data significantly distort the debate.
Collectivists of every stripe have latched on to their erroneous conclusions to justify a new bevy of socialist economic policy initiatives that they would like to have made into law and imposed on the ever shrinking cohort of Americans who create the country’s wealth. Gramm and Solon remind us again that –
Simple statistical errors in the data account for roughly one third of what is now claimed to be a “frightening” increase in income inequality. But the weakness of the case for redistribution does not end there. America is the freest and most dynamic society in history, and freedom and equality of outcome have never coexisted anywhere at any time. Here the innovator, the first mover, the talented and the persistent win out—producing large income inequality. The prizes are unequal because in our system consumers reward people for the value they add. Some can and do add extraordinary value, others can’t or don’t.
How exactly are we poorer because Bill Gates , Warren Buffett and the Walton family are so rich? Mr. Gates became rich by mainstreaming computer power into our lives and in the process made us better off. Mr. Buffett’s genius improves the efficiency of capital allocation and the whole economy benefits. Wal-Mart stretches our buying power and raises the living standards of millions of Americans, especially low-income earners. Rich people don’t “take” a large share of national income, they “bring” it. The beauty of our system is that everybody benefits from the value they bring.
And speaking of the infamous AGW hockey stick, did you hear what our President and China’s Xi Jinping are supposed to have agreed to during this week’s embarrassment in Beijing. The short of it is that the US will commit to immediately ramp up even more drastic cuts in carbon emissions while China will see what it can do over the next decades to reduce its emissions. Hopefully the new Congress will have none of it, but the big liberal guns are already unlimbered and touting this as ‘A Game-Changing Climate Agreement’ celebrated in an article of the same name by Fred Krupp, president of the Environmental Defense Fund.
In there Krupp revisits the joys of centrally planned economies that mandate arbitrary industries and market sectors which are supposed to produce marvelous new wealth from politically correct products, systems, and operations. Such nostrums have never worked before, and there is no promise that they will work now, no matter how many guns the government points at Americans to change their behavior. But that makes no never mind to people like Krupp who admits that the US will take an economic hit in its forced abandonment of fossil fueled energy production. He devoutly believes that we will overcome that self-imposed hardship by magically creating new wealth-producing industries –
I am an optimist about America’s ability to innovate and adapt. The price of solar panels has been cut 75% since 2008, and the U.S. added more solar capacity in the past two years than in the previous 30 years combined. Texas and Kansas are showing what is possible with wind power. (One day last year, wind generated nearly 40% of Texas’ electricity.) In Nevada, Tesla is building the world’s largest advanced automotive-battery factory. In New York, Solar City is building a massive solar-photovoltaic factory. Market leaders like Google and Wal-Mart are making huge investments in renewable energy and energy efficiency. The U.S.-China agreement will only increase the pace of this trend—which will, in turn, make the goals set this week easier to achieve.
So he and his have an ultimate and unfounded faith that our overregulated, overtaxed, and vilified (see above) entrepreneurs will ignore all market realities to commit their time and treasure chasing will o’ the wisp business enterprises whose success will depend solely on an eternal stream of ample subsidies from a cynical government that is already submerged in debt beyond counting, and that must continue to borrow heavily at artificially low interest rates just to service existing debt, having long ago abandoned any hope of stabilizing, let alone reducing, its principal amount.
Scary words indeed. It almost goes without saying that nowhere in Krupp’s piece does he evince a hint that AGW can at best be viewed as debatable science, and at worst as part of an obvious political movement to promote the fundamental transformation of America. The beat goes on and grows louder.