February 28, 2009
We are told ad-nauseum that rising carbon dioxide levels will kill us, and the EPA wants to regulate CO2 emissions as a pollutant. No one ever asks the question; are higher CO2 levels actually good for us? The reality is, we live in an era where carbon dioxide levels are at unusual lows-and life on Earth has spent millions of years adapting to higher CO2 levels than at present.
Perhaps these low levels are responsible for the current Holocene Extinction Event we are witnessing? Perhaps ecosystems are more fragile since carbon levels are lower; less robust plant growth making for a poorer food supply, weakening the food chain.
The Holocene Extinction Event most certainly began before the industrial period; in fact, it goes back to the dawn of Man. Rising CO2 may be all that is saving us from a dramatic Great Dying!
According to Junk Science:
June 21, 2005
``One point apparently causing confusion among our readers is the relative abundance of CO2 in the atmosphere today as compared with Earth's historical levels. Most people seem surprised when we say current levels are relatively low, at least from a long-term perspective - understandable considering the constant media/activist bleat about current levels being allegedly "catastrophically high." Even more express surprise that Earth is currently suffering one of its chilliest episodes in about six hundred million (600,000,000) years.
Given that the late Ordovician suffered an ice age (with associated mass extinction) while atmospheric CO2 levels were more than 4,000ppm higher than those of today (yes, that's a full order of magnitude higher), levels at which current 'guesstimations' of climate sensitivity to atmospheric CO2 suggest every last skerrick of ice should have been melted off the planet, we admit significant scepticism over simplistic claims of small increment in atmospheric CO2 equating to toasted planet. Granted, continental configuration now is nothing like it was then, Sol's irradiance differs, as do orbits, obliquity, etc., etc. but there is no obvious correlation between atmospheric CO2 and planetary temperature over the last 600 million years, so why would such relatively tiny amounts suddenly become a critical factor now? ``
Here is an article explaining paleoclimates, and the non-relationship between CO2 and warming. Please note the carbon dioxide/temperature graph. You will note the low levels of CO2 during the Permion-at a time of one of the great Extinction Events. Also note the dip at the Jurassic/Triassic cusp. Note also the dip during the Devonian; According to this paper;
``Another possible mechanism for cooling is the global icehouse effect, the opposite of the
greenhouse effect. Lowered levels of carbon dioxide would cause a worldwide loss of temperature.
Floral diversification and the increase of plant biomass in fifteen to twenty million years would be
significant enough for the fixation of carbon to seriously deplete atmospheric carbon dioxide levels,
leading to global cooling. A side effect would be increased calcium carbonate presence allowing an
explosion in reef growth which would eventually create a depletion of seawater bicarbonate. In turn, this
would cause the extinction of reef organisms and the creation of anoxic conditions as shallow marine
oxygen levels are affected by episodic nutrient pulses. Some experts believe the drop in carbon dioxide
THE LATE DEVONIAN MASS EXTINCTION EVENT
file:///F|/Temp/DevPaperHTML.htm (5 of 12) [1/5/2002 3:58:59 PM]
to only be half-way through its decline until the Late Carboniferous when oxygen levels increased again.
If so, extinctions should have continued until that point (McGhee, 1996).``
It should be pointed out that we are in one of the cooler periods in the Earth`s history.
At any rate, it is a point to consider; we may be SAVING species by increasing atmospheric CO2!
We may also be giving ourselves better health!
This from the Science and Environment Policy Project newsletter:
CO2 and Health:
Excerpt: The majority of us will experience
breathing problems at some time in our lives and
will find relief when given enhanced levels of
carbon dioxide. Present levels (380 ppm) are
only slightly recovered from the lowest level
during our evolution. Nature has evolved plants
to function best at approximately 1,500
ppm. Since plants and animals evolved together,
it’s reasonable to expect that we also evolved to
function best at some higher level. Now
scientific studies and medical practice leave no doubt that this is so.
by Tom Joseph
Let me get this straight: here's a guy with an anti-Obama sign on (or actually in) his car. Cop pulls him over, harasses him -- guy later gets a "visit" from the Secret Service.
Meanwhile, during the last eight years, books and movies came out that promoted the idea of assassinating Pres. Bush by a number of different unpleasant methods. I have not heard of one Secret Service person getting involved in those instances -- not one.
Am I missing something here?
This is from junkscience.com.
Here is the link to the original article: http://foxforum.blogs.foxnews.com/2009/02/26/milloy_obama_energy/
It has a youtube video imbedded that is 9 minutes long refuting Al Bore. A great refutation of his crackpot theory.
Obama’s Climate Rip-off
By Steven Milloy
Publisher, JunkScience.com/Co-Manager, Free Enterprise Action Fund
President Obama wants to pay you to support global warming regulation. What he isn’t saying, however, is that his enticement won’t come close to covering what the regulations will cost you.
In his 10-year budget released this week, the President proposed a so-called cap-and-trade scheme to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Under the proposal, 100 percent of the permits to emit greenhouse gases would be auctioned to coal and natural gas-burning electric utilities, industrial plants and other emitters-to-be-designated. The proceeds from the auctions would then distributed to individual Americans “to help the transition to a clean energy economy,” according to his budget proposal.
But what does this proposal mean for the average person in terms of actual dollars and cents?
Maybe the economics of Obama’s cap-and-trade rip-off don’t bother you, but the fact that the rip-off will accomplish nothing should give you pause.
It’s difficult to work out the precise financial impacts, but you can get an idea by doing some back-of-the-envelop calculations with some of the facts and figures that have recently been bandied about.
Based on past global warming legislation, like the Lieberman-Warner bill that failed in the Senate last June, a cap-and-trade plan would probably cover about 80 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions — about 5.8 billion tons based on a total of 7.3 billion tons emitted during 2007.
Assuming that permits are auctioned at a price of $12 per ton — a safety valve price included in past climate bills — the Obama plan would raise about $70 billion in its first year. Given that President Obama has proposed to spend about $15 billion per year of the auction proceeds on “clean energy” projects, about $55 billion would be leftover for distribution to individuals– in other words, every American with a Social Security number. Dividing the $55 billion among more than 300 million Americans, then, works out to about $180 per person and $720 per family of four per year.
It’s not like winning the lottery, but it’s better than nothing — or is it?
The liberal think tank Center on Budget Priorities and Policy estimated this week that reducing greenhouse gas emissions would cost the poorest families in America $750 per year as higher energy prices ripple through the economy affecting all goods and services. So if the poorest families, who use far less energy than the rest of America, are in a financial hole under the president’s plan, one can easily imagine how the rest of us will end up. Consider the potential consequences on just your electric bill.
The proposed Lieberman-Warner bill would have auctioned only 25 percent of the permits — not 100 percent as President Obama is proposing. The remaining 75 percent of the credits would have been distributed for free to electric utilities and other designated greenhouse gas emitters. But even under that scheme, Duke Energy CEO Jim Rogers told The New York Times last summer that electricity rates would rise by 40 percent in the first year to cover his utility’s $2 billion outlay for credits. So a 100 percent auction could increase electricity bills for Duke’s 4 million customers by 160 percent — meaning a $100 monthly electric bill becomes, perhaps, a $260 monthly bill. Based on these calculations, a family of four that pays more than $40 per month for electricity — that is, every family — is a net loser under President Obama’s plan.
And those are the potential increases for just your electric bill. Not included are other likely price hikes for goods and services — gasoline, food, travel, etc. — that will necessarily be passed along to consumers. As you can readily see, your share of President Obama’s auction proceeds don’t come close to breaking even on greenhouse gas regulation.
Maybe you’re thinking that these extra costs are worth it as they will be dwarfed by the environmental benefits of tackling the much-dreaded global warming.
Think again. There will be no detectable or tangible benefits from reduced greenhouse gas emissions.
First, carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas targeted by regulation is invisible, colorless and odorless. Since it exists in the atmosphere at levels measured in the parts per million, unless you’re a plant that needs CO2 to live, you’re not going to notice it.
Next, there is no evidence that human emissions of carbon dioxide are causing detectable changes, much less any harm, to the climate. Check out my YouTube video on this issue:
This means, of course, that there is no evidence that reducing carbon dioxide emissions will have any detectable changes on climate.
Even assuming for the sake of argument that man made carbon dioxide emissions were changing climate, Obama’s cap-and-trade bill will still have no detectable impact. First, EPA projects that a maximum clamp down on future U.S. emissions would reduce atmospheric carbon dioxide levels by about 5 percent or less — a trivial change no matter what you believe about carbon dioxide. Moreover, China and India have vowed not to harm their economies because of global warming — so their emissions can be expected to soar as they develop and more than make-up for our reductions.
Maybe the economics of Obama’s cap-and-trade rip-off don’t bother you, but the fact that the rip-off will accomplish nothing should give you pause.
Steven Milloy publishes JunkScience.com and co-manages the Free Enterprise Action Fund and is the author of the forthcoming book from Regnery Publishing, “Green Hell: How Environmentalists Plan to Control Your Life and What You Can Do to Stop Them.”
February 27, 2009
I've been reading a number of responses to AG Eric Holder's characterization of us as "cowards" when it comes to racial issues. Here, from Pajamas Media, is one of the best and hardest-hitting.
Here is an excerpt:
Dear Attorney General Holder,
The other day you stated:
``Though this nation has proudly thought of itself as an ethnic melting pot, in things racial we have always been and I believe continue to be, in too many ways, essentially a nation of cowards.``
Upon considering your remarks, I conclude that you are absolutely correct. So please allow me the opportunity to demonstrate some courage and address your statement that we ``simply do not talk enough with each other about race.``
As you undoubtedly know, the politically correct racial elite have made it extremely difficult to express much of anything. As you said, ``f we are to make progress in this area, we must feel comfortable enough with each other and tolerant enough of each other to have frank conversations about the racial matters that continue to divide us.``
It is time, then, for you to spearhead an anti-political correctness movement so as to make members of all races fully comfortable with saying what is on their minds without consequence. Don’t ask for talk with one hand while restraining talk with the other.
Secondly, as our attorney general, you should be teaching the citizenry that, as a legal matter, racial discrimination was outlawed decades ago. Obviously, creating laws does not in and of itself stop crimes; yet that is true of all crimes. Instead, you seem to join your fellow elites, including the president, in teaching the country that racism not only still exists but is a fundamental and flourishing problem throughout America.``
Read the entire piece at Pajamas Media
Which means there are some Democrats opposed to it as well as Republicans.
Who knows if it will even come to a vote it the House? Pelosi may squelch it.
But for now, there's a glimmer of hope amid all the change.
A note from Tim
Alas, they likely understand the folly of biting off more than they can chew, but I suspect a backdoor attempt will come. What really disturbs me is that the Republicans had to block the Fairness Doctrine via an amendment to a Senate bill giving the solidly Democratic District of Columbia a House vote-stacking the deck further against Republicans.
At least, the Republicans were able to get an extra vote for Utah, providing some semblence of balance. Also, this will have to pass the House in order to land on Il Duce`s desk.
According to the article:
``Six Republicans voted in favor of the bill; Sens. Susan Collins (Maine), Olympia Snowe (Maine), Orrin Hatch (Utah), Richard Lugar (Ind.), Arlen Specter (Pa.) and George Voinovich (Ohio). All six also voted for the legislation in 2007, when it failed to garner the necessary 60 votes to overcome a Republican-led filibuster.
Two Democrats voted against the measure; Sens. Max Baucus (Mont.) and Robert Byrd (W.Va.).``
We should remember these traitorous Republicans, and oppose them vigorously wherever possible. Mike Steele has suggested he may withhold campaign funds from duplicitous RINO`s, and I`m all for that! There is no point wasting money on people who hurt your cause just because they have an R behind their names, and Collins, Snowe, Hatch, Lugar, Specter, and Voinovich have betrayed their party numerous times in the past. Were they Democrats they would have long since been removed in the fashion of Joe Lieberman.
I`m not sure why the two Democrats votes against this-probably because of the FU doctrine,er, FD ban. Maybe Byrd was afraid to tell his collegues at the Klavern that he gave a Congressional vote to a predominantly African-American city?
I have never witnessed such a powergrab in all of my years on this Earth, and yet the press does little to report exactly what Obama and the Democrats are doing. This should be huge news, along with Obama`s seizure of the Census-both things that will allow him to establish political hegemony. This is what it must have felt like during the 1930`s in Germany.
We MUST have a Republican revolution in Congress in 2010, or America is doomed to a crypto-fascist future.
I found this wonderful post at CCNET:
Global warming alarmists who study polar ice behavior delight in using very large numbers to scare the rest of us. In an AP report of a report by a spokesman for the Britian - based Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research says the ice down there is melting "...faster than we thought."
The melting "also extends all the way down to what is called west Antarctica," said Colin Summerhayes, executive director ...." of the Britain-based Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research. [...]
By the end of the century, the accelerated melting could cause sea levels to climb by 3 feet to 5 feet ¬- levels substantially higher than predicted by a major scientific group just two years ago.[...]
Summerhayes said the biggest of the western glaciers, the Pine Island Glacier, is moving 40 percent faster than it was in the 1970s, discharging water and ice more rapidly into the ocean. The Smith Glacier, also in west Antarctica, is moving 83 percent faster than in 1992.[...]
Together, all the glaciers in west Antarctica are losing a total of around 114 billion tons per year because the melting is much greater than new snowfall, he said. "That's equivalent to the current mass loss from the whole of the Greenland ice sheet," Summerhayes said.
Looked at another way, it's more weight than 312,000 Empire State Buildings.
End of quotations.
114,000,000,000 tons of ice/water per year. Run for the hills!!
But wait.... By my computation the continent of Antarctica contains - get this -- 19,000,000,000,000,000 tons of ice. Assuming that 10% of the ice is West Antarctica Ice Sheet, it would take 167,000 years to melt all that ice at the alarming rate of 114 Bn tons per year.
The area of the oceans is 3,475,000,000,000,000 sq feet. By my calculation, if the WAIS is 10% of all the ice, then it would take 96 years to raise sea levels 12 inches at the alarming rate of 114,000,000,000 tons of melt per year (3,600,000,000,000 cuft).
Mr. Summerhayes says this rapid melt rate may have been going on since 1970 or 1993.
But meanwhile a recent study by Woppelmann et al., cited at http://www.co2science.org/>http://www.co2science.org/ indicates that sea level rise has been very constant since 1893.
´... since mean sea-level rose at a constant rate over the entire 114 years [up to and including 2007], it seems highly unlikely that the historical increase in the atmosphere's CO2 content -- which accelerated dramatically over this time interval -- could have been the ultimate cause of the steady mean sea-level rise."
The rapid rate of melt since possibly 1970 (or 1993) apparently has been having no added effect on the rate of sea level rise.
So, from now on I will be very careful not to be frightened, at face value by reports of massive ice loss from Antarctica and Greenland. There really is a lot of ice at these two places.
February 26, 2009
Jack Kemp (not the politician)
This is what many of a strident cadre of Obama fanatics want. It looks like the old NKVD, predating the KGB.
Long, intolerant and even excruciating four years
Big Brother Obama Supporters On the Internet Are Watching You
By Judi McLeod Thursday, February 26, 2009
While the Obama-led Democrats control the future of the United States of America, the grassroots on the Internet (The Obama Forum) are in the process of turning in ``enemies of Obama``, including the parents of children who are Obama supporters.
Obama supporting children have actually posted their parents’ names and addresses on the Obama Forum. (here).
In all of its searches, Canada Free Press (CFP) has found no comment from any official in the Obama administration repudiating the Forum.
The Obamaforum.com instructs people to ``Report Anti-Obama Sentiment By Your Coworkers and Peers`` (here) and more.
All mainstreet Americans can do is hope that the secret service who visited the Oklahoma city motorist, tooling around town with the ``abort Obama sign`` on his car, does not log onto the Forum.
``The following is not for those who are frightened easily or for those with a weak stomach,`` a CFP tipster wrote.
You can let Obama know how his stimulus bill is helping you at the website, whose name was a number, according to Vice President Joe Biden on Tuesday night. The veep, of course, was really talking about: Recovery.gov- Share your experience
But Obamameisters in darker corners have a thread just for what to do with their perceived enemies:
From the Obama Forum: Ban websites with the help of officials (Italics CFP’s).
To get the ball rolling here are some of the sites:
Get the ball rolling here are some sites
www.gop.org <---Opposing party
www.redstate.com <---Conservatard watering hole
www.freerepublic.com <---See redstate.com
www.mccain.senate.gov <---Ran against Obama and attacking him now.
www.sarahpac.com <---Sarah "Carabou Barbie" Palin's "Political Action Committee."
drudgereport has a bunch of firearms sites and a ton of others.
Here they are keeping a list and checking it twice...”Ok, if you see a car with a bumper sticker or anything about freedom or liberty or hatred for taxes or one of those ``Nobamba`` bumper stickers or anything that is against the government or Obama, do what you can to mark down the license plate number. Maybe the make and model of the car, I bet we might be able to get a statistical probability based on make and model to just go after all of a certain type of car. The government will have need for such a list pretty soon.
``I saw t his one this morning so I’ll start the list:
`License Plate: 1M1337-Texas,
`Silver Cadillac Escalade
`Infraction: Ron Paul 2008 bumper sticker and a little ``don’t tread on me`` sign...``
There is zero tolerance for Doubting Thomases on a website that likes to depict Obama as Jesus walking on water.
The Forum has a take-no-prisoners attitude: ``Anyone overheard doubting President Obama should be immediately reported to local officials. Make the jobs of local officials easier by posting any dissent you may have overheard in the elevator from one of your coworkers, while drinking a beer at the local sports bar, or by strangers buying groceries at the grocery store, or reading Conservative books and other racist publications (Italics CFP’s) at the library. Remember to jot down as much information as possible about them. Height, weight, hair color, eye color, etc. Try to sneak a photograph of them with your cell phone, but be careful and don’t let them see you. License plate numbers, social security information, FEMA records, criminal background checks. Post it all here.`` Remember, in the great words of President Obama: ``Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country!``
To suggest that it was President John F. Kennedy who inspired Americans with these words, could get you branded as a racist.
Other sentiments of Internet Obama supporters: ``All gunowners should die``.
``Websites (that) don’t comply on their own, we will take them down by force,`` is their promise.
``To keep hope alive, in spite of all mistakes, horrors, and crimes, recognize the obvious superiority of socialism``, their avowed mantra.
``For struggle, Solidarity and Socialism! I swear that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Obama. Our laws and his will, according to him. We will not overthrow the government with violence. We shall stand, remain and be the law of his realm forever. It is then that all peoples of the world will plead for Obama to deliver them from evil.``
Meanwhile, it’s going to be a long, intolerant and even excruciating four years.
Barack Obama is claiming he will reduce the Federal Deficit despite spending more money than any President in history.
According to the Media Research Center:
``ABC, CBS and NBC reporters over the past two days have relayed
how the Obama administration proposes to cut the annual federal deficit
from $1.3 trillion to $533 billion in four years by cutting spending on
the war in Iraq and raising the income tax rate for those earning more
than $250,000. Not considered: How since the Bush tax cuts the revenue
paid by the richest -- and their share of total income taxes collected.``
He believes he can do this by ending the war in Iraq, but this means that he will simply have to eliminate those expenditures, rather than redeploy to Afghanistan as he claimed was necessary. He has called Afghanistan the central front in the War on Terror, but he obviously has no intention of bringing American resources to bear on that ``central front``. He is a fool, besides; Afghanistan may be where Al Qaeda is holed up, but why, pray tell, is Gitmo full of AQ and other terrorists? Because they went to fight us in Iraq. Terrorists hiding in caves pose little threat; it is when they go abroad to make mischief that we face trouble. Granted, securing Pakistan is important, since the Pakistanis have nuclear weapons, but Obama obviously has no plans on making any serious effort to do that. On the contrary, he has suggested we invade Pakistan (which should be a last-ditch response) but doesn`t seem to think this will cost money.
The British comedy show Monty Python`s Flying Circus once featured a sketch of a game show ``World Hide-n-Seek`` in which contestants played a multi-year game where one contestant flew to any place in the world and hid until found. Of course, it would be impossible to find someone who could hide anywhere in the world, and the writers believed everyone would grasp the absurdity. Obama doesn`t seem to grasp this absurdity, preferring to play World Hide-n-Seek with Osama Bin-Laden. He seems completely oblivious to the fact that we cannot keep ourselves safe by chasing these fellows around the world from safe house to safe house. The only effective strategy-especially in an era when these fiends can obtain weapons of mass murder-is to destroy their sanctuaries. Whether one agree that Iraq was a sanctuary or not, it can be at least agreed that Saddam`s regime was evil, and the political will SHOULD have been there to invade, especially since the United Nations had resolution after resolution and the U.S. had authorized Bill Clinton to use force against Iraq. The Bush Administration knew that Iran was (and is) the terror masters, but an invasion of Iran would have been far more difficult both in terms of means and of political will. Bush tried to put a pincer on Iran, putting American troops in Afghanistan to the east and Iraq to the west. This would have worked, too, if we had started a covert war against them, but we concentrated on stabilizing Iraq with too few troops, and the Iranians turned the tables on us, infiltrating terrorists and weapons to the enemy. We also restrained Israel, which could have dealt with Syria.
But Obama campaigned on an anti-war platform, and he is in a tough spot because his base wants us out of Iraq, and will not be receptive to redeployment. Obama himself is, of course, a radical liberal who believes that America is responsible for the troubles in this world, and the notion that the U.S. military serves any useful purpose is anathema to such thinking, so OF COURSE he will think first to cut funds for national defense. War-what is it good for!
So Il-Duce thinks we will save a bundle by weakening our defenses. Our enemies will see we are not such bad fellows, and will doubtlessly beat their swords into plowshares and their strap-on bombs into life preservers.
The other way Obama thinks he will reduce the deficit is by, drumroll please!...taxing the rich!!!
Yes, the rich, who pay most of the taxes, are to be tapped again to ``pay their fair share`` while carrying a bunch of freeloaders being given billions to vote for the Democrat Party. The ``tax cut`` for the poor (read welfare since they pay no taxes) must be paid in some way, and Obama is the first person to figure out that the RICH aren`t paying enough. His plan should generate billions!
But will it?
Once again, we are treated to the stupidity of liberals; they don`t understand that wealth is not a static thing. To a liberal, wealth is a pie which must be sliced into ever thinner pieces to feed everyone. The idea that wealth grows under certain circumstances, and shrinks under others seems to go over their heads. The notion that the Treasury will make more money by cutting taxes, and will actually make less by raising them does not compute with their gigantic minds, because they see everything as a zero-sum game. Why work harder producing more if it is to be taken? This just seems to mystify them.
Eastern Europe had an economic boom until recently, largely a result of cuts in taxation rates and a flat tax. According to a 2005 article in the Christian Science Monitor;
``The flat tax is "a very important factor," for these new companies, says Kocis.
Trade experts say foreign investment has been flowing into Slovakia at a higher rate since the tax reform.
In 2003, the government's trade development agency, SARIO, brought in 22 investment projects that created 7,500 new jobs. In 2004, it brought in 47 projects worth more than 12,700 jobs.``
And this is true all over Eastern Europe; tax rates range from between 0-9% (in Bosnia) to a high of 30-39%. Of the top rates, the poorer countries in Eastern Europe such as Lithuania and Belarus reside near the top. The tigers seem to be in the less taxed nations.
But don`t expect the Marxist-minded in the Democrat Party to take notice.
The Media Resource Center report supplies this data from the IRS:
Total revenue received from the top one percent:
2003: $256 billion
Share of total income taxes collected which were paid by the top one
So, Obama plans to weaken our defenses, and reduce money to the treasury. If Republicans do not oppose him vigorously, America will be in deep, deep trouble. The children have taken over.
Here is the MRC report in total:
ABC, CBS and NBC reporters over the past two days have relayed
how the Obama administration proposes to cut the annual federal deficit
from $1.3 trillion to $533 billion in four years by cutting spending on
the war in Iraq and raising the income tax rate for those earning more
than $250,000. Not considered: How since the Bush tax cuts the revenue
paid by the richest -- and their share of total income taxes collected --
have been rising year-by-year. So will a tax hike, from 35 to 39.6
percent, really increase the amount the wealthiest pay, or will they find
ways to avoid reporting income and thus the government will see little, if
any, additional revenue -- to say nothing about the wisdom of alerting
investors during an economic downturn that their tax rate will soon jump?
Monday night, CBS's Chip Reid reported: "Most of the savings would
come from winding down the war in Iraq, ending the Bush tax cuts for
people making over $250,000 a year and cutting spending." Jake Tapper,
also Monday night, on ABC: "Another source of revenue being proposed --
allowing the Bush tax cuts for a family earning over $250,000 a year to
expire in 2011, increasing that tax rate from 35 percent to 39.6 percent."
On Sunday's NBC Nightly News, Chuck Todd explained how the Obama
advisors plan to cut the deficit by more than half: "They believe they can
do it because of two big changes: The Iraq war, winding that down, the
cost of that obviously goes down; and then getting rid of those Bush tax
cuts on the wealthiest Americans. That will bring in more revenue."
[This item, by the MRC's Brent Baker, was posted Monday night on the
MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org:
For 2006, it took an Adjusted Gross Income of $153,542 to be in the to
five percent of earners and an AGI or $388,806 or more to be in the top
A Tax Foundation report from last July listed revenue trends in what
the IRS has collected:
Total revenue received from the top one percent:
2003: $256 billion
Share of total income taxes collected which were paid by the top one
Looks like the richest are already pay more each year. Let's hope
future coverage, as Obama unveils his actual budget plan, explores the topic.
Tax Foundation's report: http://www.taxfoundation.org/research/show/250.html
Dana Mathewson forwards this easy-to-understand analogy:
The financial crisis explained in simple terms.............................
Heidi is the proprietor of a bar in Berlin. In order to increase sales, she decides to allow her loyal customers - most of whom are unemployed alcoholics - to drink now but pay later. She keeps track of the drinks consumed on a ledger (thereby granting the customers loans).
Word gets around and as a result increasing numbers of customers flood into Heidi's bar.
Taking advantage of her customers' freedom from immediate payment constraints, Heidi increases her prices for wine and beer, the most-consumed beverages. Her sales volume increases massively.
A young and dynamic customer service consultant at the local bank recognizes these customer debts as valuable future assets and increases Heidi's borrowing limit.
He sees no reason for undue concern since he has the debts of the alcoholics as collateral.
At the bank's corporate headquarters, expert bankers transform these customer assets into DRINKBONDS, ALKBONDS and PUKEBONDS. These securities are then traded on markets worldwide. No one really understands what these abbreviations mean and how the securities are guaranteed. Nevertheless, as their prices continuously climb, the securities become top-selling items.
One day, although the prices are still climbing, a risk manager of the bank, (subsequently of course fired due to his negativity), decides the time has come to demand payment of the debts incurred by the drinkers at Heidi's bar.
However they cannot pay back the debts.
Heidi cannot fulfill her loan obligations and files for bankruptcy.
DRINKBOND and ALKBOND drop in price by 95 %. PUKEBOND performs better, stabilizing in price after dropping by 80 %.
Heidi's suppliers, having granted her generous payment due dates and having invested in the securities are faced with a new situation. Her wine supplier files for bankruptcy, her beer supplier is taken over by a competitor.
The bank is saved by the Government following dramatic round-the-clock consultations by leaders from the governing political parties.
The funds required for this purpose are obtained by a tax levied on the non-drinkers.
Finally an explanation I understand...
Another example of the usual liberals' "do as I say, not as I do" lifestyle.
Here is an excerpt:
Fed task force has few new U.S. cars
David Shepardson / Detroit News Washington Bureau
WASHINGTON -- The vehicles owned by the Obama administration's auto team could reflect one reason why Detroit's Big Three automakers are in trouble: The list includes few new American cars.
Among the eight members named Friday to the Presidential Task Force on the Auto Industry and the 10 senior policy aides who will assist them in their work, two own American models. Add the Treasury Department's special adviser to the task force and the total jumps to three.
The Detroit News reviewed public records to discover what many of the task force and staff members drove, but information was not available on all of the officials, and records for some states were not complete.
At least two task force members don't own a car, and there are still two open slots on the 10-member panel that will be filled by the secretaries of labor and commerce, who have not yet been appointed.
Steve Rattner, the managing partner of a $6 billion New York hedge fund who will lead the Treasury Department's auto efforts, has three imports and one domestic vehicle.
He owns a 2008 Lexus LS 460 sedan, a 2007 Audi S4 convertible, a 2006 Mercedes-Benz R350 sport-utility vehicle and a 2005 Lincoln Town Car, according to public records.
The co-chairs of the task force -- Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner and White House National Economic Council Director Lawrence Summers -- both own foreign automobiles.
Here are a pair of outstanding articles written by Mary Grabar that have just Appeared at CNS News:
When the nation’s largest organization of college admissions professionals unveiled its report on the ``use of standardized tests in undergraduate admissions`` last fall, national newspapers like The New York Times and education journals like Inside Higher Ed interpreted the conclusions as validation for the end of the use of standardized tests.
The report, by the National Association for College Admissions Counseling (NACAC), was directed by Harvard University’s dean of admissions and financial aid, William R. Fitzsimmons. It gave a certain imprimatur to the notion that the SAT, formerly known as the Scholastic Aptitude Test, much sweated over by high school juniors, is unnecessary.
The report’s muddled language and contradictory conclusions certainly lend themselves to such interpretations, especially by those already hostile toward standardized testing or toward objective evaluative judgments in education.
Oddly, today’s attitude toward the SAT sharply contrasts with the one that motivated another Harvard figure, former President James Bryant Conant, some 60 years ago. Conant and Educational Testing Service developed the test to reward those with intellectual merit, but without social standing, with the chance for admission to the elite colleges of the day.
The NACAC report makes no specific charges but claims that a ``‘one-size-fits-all’ approach for the use of standardized tests in undergraduate admission does not reflect the realities facing the nation’s colleges and universities.``
The authors encourage ``institutions to consider dropping the admission test requirements if it is determined that the predictive utility of the test or the admission policies of the institution (such as open access) support that decision and if the institution believes that standardized test results would not be necessary for other reasons such as course placement, advising, or research`` (italics retained).
This tortured qualification provides further permission to the growing number of schools making the SAT optional for purposes of college admission. While admissions professionals promote test optional policies as beneficial to students, schools also enjoy their benefits. By 2007, 28 of U.S. News and World Report’s top 100 liberal arts colleges had become test-optional.
But advertised test scores rose among 27 of those, when they advertised mean or average scores only from students who opted to submit their test results for purposes of admission. (Only one of those schools fully reported the scores of all students, including those who submitted test scores after enrolling.)
Jonathan P. Epstein, a researcher with the education consultancy Maguire Associates, expresses concerns about such artificially inflated scores.
In the firm’s May 2008 newsletter, he revealed that ``SAT scores for non-submitters are 100-150 points lower than submitters; therefore eliminating those scores for 25 percent to 50 percent of enrolling students increases the institution’s average SAT score between 25 and 75 points.``
The higher average SAT score helps inch the school up in the highly competitive US News & World Report rankings. But Epstein worries that such inflated scores may discourage qualified students from applying. He further notes that the practice ``may completely disorient prospective students and families`` and concludes that such disorientation in the market ``is not in the best interests of any institution or higher education in general.``
What may be the most puzzling, and revealing, statement in the NACAC report is found on page 43 where the authors, referring back to the SAT’s early years, acknowledge its value as a tool for measuring the academic potential of seniors at public high schools from all over the country who had not been specifically prepared for admission to the nation’s top colleges.
Inexplicably, the same test used for admission to public colleges today is said to create a problem. If such tests were fair measures of the ability of applicants to elite colleges in the past, why are they not seen as fair for public institutions today?
The sentence that follows is telling: ``In addition, [the tests] have been interpreted by some as indications of the mental capacity of the individual test-taker``. ``Mental capacity`` is not defined, but one can presume that this is meant as a measure of intelligence and knowledge.
As one evaluative factor along with grades, class rank, etc., as recommended by NACAC, such a purpose would seem legitimate. Again, if such tests are lauded for their equalizing effect in mid-century America, why not now?
The NACAC report contradicts itself also on the issue of grade point average. The Commission notes that GPA is generally ``the most reliable predictor of first-year academic performance in college.`` Yet within the same paragraph the authors admit that the varying quality of high schools make GPA-based assessments difficult. This seemingly provides further support for standardized testing.
Citing its own survey, the NACAC Commission expresses alarm over the increasing importance placed on standardized tests. But their survey results seem to contradict their own claims. For example, the survey shows that the percentage of admissions officers who say ``considerable importance`` is placed on admission tests rose to 60 percent in 2006 from 46 percent in 1993.
Yet, a similar rise in importance was also seen in ``Grades in all courses`` up to 51 percent in 2006 from 39 percent in 1993. It seems that admissions professionals are doing exactly what the commission has recommended.
Even if the charge that an inordinate emphasis was being placed on test scores were borne out, the practice would conflict with the organization’s own professional goals. They state, ``standardized admissions tests (SAT and ACT) are not the most important factor in college admission decisions.``
Certainly, if colleges are deviating from professional standards, then reform or censure is called for. NACAC, instead, proposes doing away with minimum cut-off points for test scores, thus eliminating one of several-and ``not most important factors in college admissions decisions`` already.
Based on this rationale, would the next logical step entail eliminating the minimum grade point average?
What emerges from the NACAC report is an unevenly justified complaint of a social nature propelling a slow but steady movement toward test optional policies. But other forces work behind the test optional push and the demonstrated confusion in the NACAC report and its recommendations.
The factors are many, but a wizard pulling the levers emerges. His activist organization has long promoted the elimination of standardized tests.
The National Center for Fair and Open Testing, more colloquially referred to as Fair Test, has been in the vanguard of efforts to eliminate standardized testing from college admissions since its founding in 1985. Based in Boston, Massachusetts, its spokesman, Robert Schaeffer, the organization’s ``public education director``, is sought out widely as an authority on this issue.
In spite of Schaeffer’s admitted paucity of higher education expertise, his statements appear ubiquitously in national newspapers as well as in education journals-not to mention in NACAC’s own reports. Schaeffer calls Fair Test a ``national leader`` and a ``watchdog`` on the abuses of testing. Yet an examination of the group’s efforts suggests that Fair Test’s ultimate goal is to do away with the SAT and ACT tests.
One could be forgiven for thinking it odd that a presumably academic organization like NACAC relies on activist agitation as much or more than on peer- reviewed research or meta-analyses produced by competent education professionals.
Perhaps even more unusual is what’s revealed in an examination of the credentials and funding behind Fair Test. These should give pause to those engaged in higher education or otherwise advancing educational goals as traditionally understood.
If one were to judge by the number of times the National Center for Fair and Open Testing, more commonly known as Fair Test, has been quoted in reference to test-optional college admissions policies, one might conclude that this organization is the nation’s preeminent authority on the issue. Seeing a quotation from one of the group’s staff in publications ranging from USA Today to the Chronicle of Higher Education is nearly as predictable as the nostrum about death and taxes.
College admissions professionals also pay homage to Fair Test. The National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC) encouraged its members to consider Fair Test suggestions like ``‘examin[ing] whether first-year grade point average is too narrow a criteria for evaluating the utility of standardized admission tests``, when its commission on standardized testing issued its report on the matter last fall.
The issue of college admissions has significant academic and economic importance. One presumes citations on such matters would be reserved for learned individuals and organizations with considered and scholarly perspectives bolstered by data and rigorous analysis. But a closer inspection of Fair Test’s staff credentials and finances raises significant questions about the organization’s bona fides and legitimacy.
When asked about funding sources for Fair Test, the group’s public education director, Robert Schaeffer, acknowledges support from the Ford Foundation, the Joyce Foundation, and the Rockefeller Family Fund.
But curiously absent from Schaeffer’s recitation of financial backers is George Soros, the Hungarian-born billionaire who has bankrolled such notorious projects as MoveOn.org and a plethora of other left-wing causes and politicians. Grant records from Soros’ New York City-based Open Society Institute reveal that Fair Test has received $165,000 from Soros’ Institute since 2004.
Fair Test also lists among its sponsors the Woods Fund of Chicago, which includes among its board membership William Ayers, the domestic terrorist who, as a member of the radical Weather Underground, played a role in the bombing of New York City police headquarters in 1970; the bombing of the U.S. Capitol in 1971; and the 1972 bombing of the Pentagon.
The grant records and other proceedings of the Woods Fund have remained elusive since the disclosure in 2008 of Ayers’ dealings with President Barack Obama during their time together on the fund’s board. To this day, the extent of support for Fair Test from Ayers or the Woods Fund remains unknown.
As for Schaeffer himself, his role with Fair Test is not entirely clear. Schaeffer is often referred to as Fair Test’s ``public education director``, and he is the group’s most frequent spokesperson. But tax records, corporate documents and other materials paint a more muddled picture. As recently as September 2008, the left-leaning Ploughshares Fund listed Schaeffer as president of Public Policy Communications, a Sanibel, Florida-based public relations firm.
Schaeffer’s firm describes itself as a provider of ``strategic communications for progressive causes, candidates, and socially-responsible businesses`` yet lists no expertise in matters related to higher education or college admissions policy. Schaeffer’s clients of late include International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, Families Against Incinerator Risk and the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research.
Fair Test’s recent tax returns make the situation somewhat murkier. The group’s 2006 Internal Revenue Service Form 990, which must be filed by all non-profit 501 (c) (3) organizations, lists Schaeffer as the organization’s treasurer, working 21 hours per week and receiving $60,000 in compensation.
This remuneration for half-time work represents more than half of the $111,496 in direct public support noted in Fair Test’s Form 990 that year. Oddly, their 2006 tax return, the most recent available, was signed February 8, 2008 by Betty P. Rauch, who signed the tax form as ``treasurer`` but is noted elsewhere in the tax form as one of the group’s unpaid officers.
Also curious is the fact that Schaeffer’s address, as listed on Fair Test’s 2006 tax return, is the same as that of his Florida public relations firm, suggesting his services are related to his PR practice. However, the Form 990 section requiring information on the compensation of the five highest paid independent contractors for professional services in excess of $50,000 reads ``None`` for 2006.
Further convoluting Schaeffer’s status are Fair Test’s 2004 and 2005 tax returns. In both cases, he is the signatory on the group’s Form 990 and lists himself as treasurer, filing both returns late and signing them within a 12-day time frame in March 2006.
No less questionable are the scholarly credentials of Fair Test’s top officers. Schaeffer claims no expertise in higher education, education research, testing or training. He has written some papers on related topics but none are peer reviewed, and most have been published by Fair Test. One such paper, ``Test Scores Do Not Equal Merit``, was reviewed by college admissions offices, and Schaeffer says he was given ``input`` by them.
Schaeffer lists himself as co-author of a 1989 book, ``Standing Up to the SAT``, published by ARCO/Simon & Schuster (with a foreword by Eleanor Smeal and afterword by Ralph Nader). Schaeffer also lists himself as author of a 1996 article entitled ``Standardized Tests and Teacher Competence``, which he says was published in a ``teacher newspaper in New York City.``
As for classroom experience, Schaeffer says his background includes teaching ``organizational management`` at Antioch Community College. This sum of knowledge prompts Schaeffer to claim that he and his colleagues are ``practical experts``, in the field of college admissions.
Among those colleagues is Fair Test’s Executive Director Jesse Mermell, the former director of the Massachusetts Women’s Political Caucus. Mermell, who assumed her post in January 2008, was honored that year as one of two ``Champions for Choice``, by NARAL, Pro-Choice Massachusetts.
According to the NARAL Web site, Mermell ``is an activist in the Massachusetts Democratic Party``, who received the Michael S. Dukakis Award for service to the party in 2002.
Elected to the Board of Selectmen in Brookline, Massachusetts-the youngest person ever chosen for the office-Mermell is also a board member of the Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts Advocacy Fund and of Citizens for Public Schools. She also chaired the Youth Services Committee of the Massachusetts Democratic Party and was political director of Massachusetts Democratic Future.
With an organizational pedigree as heavy in left-wing political activism as it is light in scholarly acumen, Fair Test is undoubtedly pleased to have the endorsement of NACAC as a mark of credibility. At the same time, NACAC is not shy in citing Fair Test pronouncements in support of its conclusions, including those incorporated in NACAC’s 2008 commission on admissions testing report.
The incestuous nature between a blatantly political organization like Fair Test-which is funded in part by radical foundations-and a professional organization for admissions practitioners is disturbing. Either NACAC shares Fair Test’s political agenda or is negligent in ascertaining the credentials of experts they cite in reports. The same can also be said of media organizations that routinely quote Fair Test officials.
Such ties between a political group advocating the end of standardized testing and an academic professional organization overseeing college admissions are troubling. The relationship between those entrusted with making college admissions fair and those with a larger political goal merits investigation particularly in light of the conclusions of education researcher Jonathan Epstein, who has studied the impact of test-optional policies in college admissions.
Writing in May 2008 for the education consultancy Maguire Associates, Epstein reveals that test-optional policies at colleges and universities lead to artificially inflated average SAT scores among incoming freshmen, which, Epstein warns ``may completely disorient prospective students and families.`` Epstein concludes that such disorientation in the market, which is fueled in large part by Fair Test political activists, ``is not in the best interest of any institution or higher education in general.``
This risk alone provides sufficient reason for media and academic organizations to reassess their reliance on Fair Test and other political organizations for meaningful input in the college admissions debate. Whether they will take this course of action remains to be seen.
Here is the bio from Mary`s website:
About Mary Grabar
I am a writer and college English teacher, whose parents escaped from Slovenia in 1959 and spent a year in a refugee camp in Austria. We immigrated to Rochester, New York, when I was two. My views have been formed by experiences as an immigrant during the racial violence in Rochester in the 1960s and then at my alma mater, Benjamin Franklin Junior-Senior High School. I tried to be a liberal, but then quickly realized that it was an exclusive club. My conversion to conservatism was cinched when I returned to school in the master's program in English in the 1990's. In spite of the hostility of most of the faculty and the torture of having to wade through postmodern nonsense, I earned my Ph.D. from the University of Georgia in 2002.
Her work can be seen at Townhall, Pajamas Media, the American Spectator, CNS News, and other places.
February 24, 2009
Dana Mathewson forwards this:
My old grandpa once said to me, "Son, there comes a time in every man's life
when he stops bustin' knuckles and starts bustin' caps and usually it's when
he becomes too old to take an ass whoppin'.
I don't carry a gun to kill people. I carry a gun to keep from being killed.
I don't carry a gun to scare people. I carry a gun because sometimes this
world can be a scary place.
I don't carry a gun because I'm paranoid. I carry a gun because there are real
threats in the world.
I don't carry a gun because I'm evil. I carry a gun because I have lived long
enough to see the evil in the world.?
I don't carry a gun because I hate the government. I carry a gun because I
understand the limitations of government.
I don't carry a gun because I'm angry. I carry a gun so that I don't have to
spend the rest of my life hating myself for failing to be prepared.
I don't carry a gun because I want to shoot someone. I carry a gun because I
want to die at a ripe old age in my bed, and not on a sidewalk somewhere
I don't carry a gun because I'm a cowboy. I carry a gun because, when I die
and go to Heaven, I want to be a cowboy.
I don't carry a gun to make me feel like a man. I carry a gun because men know
how to take care of themselves and the ones they love.
I don't carry a gun because I feel inadequate. I carry a gun because, unarmed
and facing three armed thugs, I am inadequate.
I don't carry a gun because I love it. I carry a gun because I love life and
the people who make it meaningful to me.
"Police Protection" is an oxymoron. Free citizens must protect themselves.
Police do not protect you from crime; they usually just investigate the crime
after it happens and then call someone in to clean up the mess.
Personally, I carry a gun because I'm too young to die and too old to take an
......author unknown (but obviously brilliant)
Remember the average response time to a 911 call is over 4 minutes.
The average response time of a .357 magnum is 1400 FPS
Jack Kemp (not the politician):
Ward Churchill still a wet blanket
Mr. Selwyn Duke's recent fine article "Hating Whitey" has made me recall something I recently read by a liberal writer about the true origins of a liberal racial injustice myth and the facts that debunk this argument that was spread by Ward Churchill and others. I know this has little direct bearing on today's news. But since I recently found this relatively obscure story origin and its topic is still a part of the left's ongoing national harangue on race, I thought I'd pass this documentation source from Wikipedia and the full Wikipedia article (which doesn't categorically take the left's side) along to you.
Ward Churchill argued that US Army troops distributed blankets laced with smallpox to tribes in the Dakotas region. This was debunked, but there is a flimsy origin for this story that predates the United States itself.
In 1763 in Ft. Pitt (Pittsburg), the British colonists had been attacked repeatedly by Indians during the French and Indian War. There is a letter written by a British officer suggesting that the colonists should give out blankets laced with smallpox to the Indians. There is no evidence this plan was ever enacted. That the Indians would accept gifts during a war from their enemies ("Greeks bearing gifts," as it were) is highly unlikely and probably absurd. Documentation and some history appears below. This is the origin of the myth/lie/story that "European Americans give Native Americans blankets with smallpox."
Smallpox, Indians, and Germ Warfare
The story of the British spreading smallpox as a form of germ warfare against the American Indians in the years before the Revolutionary War has received wide attention in recent years. But is it true or merely politically-inspired disinformation?
Lord Jeffery Amherst was the commanding general of British forces in North America during the final battles of the French and Indian war (1754-1763). During this war, the French allied with the Indians in an attempt to drive the British out of North America. The evidence that suggests a possible "germ warfare" tactic during this war consists entirely of postscripts attached to the ends of two letters from Colonel Henry Bouquet during Pontiac's Rebellion:
Colonel Henry Bouquet to General Amherst, dated 13 July 1763:
P.S. I will try to inocculate the the Indians by means of Blankets that may fall in their hands, taking care however not to get the disease myself. As it is pity to oppose good men against them, I wish we could make use of the Spaniard's Method, and hunt them with english dogs, supported by Rangers, and some Light Horse, who would I think effectively extirpate or remove that Vermine.
Amherst responded to Bouquet, in a letter dated 16 July 1763:
P.S. You will do well to try to Innoculate the Indians by means of Blanketts, as well as to try Every other method that can serve to Extirpate this Execrable Race. I should be very glad your Scheme for Hunting them Down by Dogs could take Effect effect, but England is at too great a Distance to think of that at present.
A third letter on 26 July 1763 from Colonel Bouquet acknowledges receipt of the approval:
``Sir, I received yesterday your Excellency's letters of 16th with their Inclosures. The signal for Indian Messengers, and all your directions will be observed.``
The original letters were microfilmed in Britain during World War II to protect them from possible damage. Assuming that these letters are authentic, it seems clear from the foregoing that Amherst was caught up in war fever, and not at all fond of Indians, and that plans were made to inoculate them with some disease. This disease is presumed to be smallpox, because one earlier letter contains the line:
Could it not be contrived to send the Small Pox among those disaffected tribes of Indians? We must on this occasion use every stratagem in our power to reduce them.
However, there is not a shred of evidence that this plan was actually carried out. Conspicuous by its absence is any letter indicating that either of them took any action on the plan. It is inconceivable that such a letter, if it existed, would not have been found, with the armies of revisionist historians undoubtedly searching for it. Since smallpox was known to be in the area at the time, any disease outbreak among the Indians would prove little. It is also not clear why Lord Amherst hated Indians so much. Although there were often conflicts between the settlers and native Indians, history shows that in most cases both sides went to great lengths to maintain peaceful relations. Thomas Jefferson, for example, had a Romantic conception of the Indians, speculating at one point that they might be one of the lost tribes of Israel. One possibility for the anger is that the British may have felt betrayed by the Indians, who sided with their mortal enemies, the despised French.
In those days, smallpox was epidemic throughout Europe and North America. Contact between the two continents spread this and other diseases through the population. Just as the European continent had been ravaged by plague after contact with Asia, the Indian population had been decimated by smallpox and other diseases unintentionally brought from Europe. Pocahontas, for example, an Indian who was idolized by the British, died tragically in Britain from pulmonary disease.
In this era of frenetic Western civilization-bashing, however, the smallpox story has taken on a life of its own, with any document containing the word "blanket" being reinterpreted to generate a sort of conspiracy theory. For example, the diary of William Trent, who was a commander of the militia of the townspeople of Pittsburgh during Pontiac's siege of the fort, contains an entry from which the following line is often quoted: "We gave them two Blankets and an Handkerchief out of the Small Pox Hospital. I hope it will have the desired effect." (May 24, 1763). Taken out of context, this sounds quite sinister. But the entire diary entry shows that this was clearly intended as a gesture of friendship:
The Turtles Heart a principal Warrior of the Delawares and Mamaltee a Chief came within a small distance of the Fort Mr. McKee went out to them and they made a Speech letting us know that all our [POSTS] as Ligonier was destroyed, that great numbers of Indians [were coming and] that out of regard to us, they had prevailed on 6 Nations [not to] attack us but give us time to go down the Country and they desired we would set of[f] immediately. The Commanding Officer thanked them, let them know that we had everything we wanted, that we could defend it against all the Indians in the Woods, that we had three large Armys marching to Chastise those Indians that had struck us, told them to take care of their Women and Children, but not to tell any other Natives, they said they would go and speak to their Chiefs and come and tell us what they said, they returned and said they would hold fast of the Chain of friendship. Out of our regard to them we gave them two Blankets and an Handkerchief out of the Small Pox Hospital. I hope it will have the desired effect. They then told us that Ligonier had been attacked, but that the Enemy were beat of
The diary entry clearly shows that the "desired effect" was to express their friendly regard for the Indians, not to kill them. Of course, with what we know today about contagious diseases, the gesture was a horribly misguided one. But only the most cynical and biased reader could interpret this paragraph as evidence of germ warfare.
Indeed, in those days, the idea that microorganisms caused disease had not even been imagined. In 1796 Jenner performed the first vaccination against smallpox, with no clue about its actual nature. The concept that diseases were caused by living organisms was unknown. In fact, the theory of spontaneous generation was widely held until Louis Pasteur's famous experiment in 1859. Robert Koch was the first to prove that a bacterium caused disease, in this case anthrax, in 1876. Viruses were not conceptualized until the late 19th century.
Given today's knowledge of smallpox as a disease, we must also ask whether it is even possible to spread smallpox with blankets. Since American scientists led the drive to eradicate smallpox in the 1970s, the average person today has little intuition for how effective a blanket would be at spreading contagion.
The Poxviridae family of viruses, which includes the variola virus that causes smallpox, are DNA-containing viruses that are among the largest and most complex of all animal viruses. The virus particles consist of an outer coat consisting of proteins crosslinked by disulfide bonds. These particles, isolated from cells, are called intracellular naked virions or IMV. Virus particles isolated from tissue culture medium are called extracellular enveloped virions (EEV), and contain an additional lipoprotein envelope. Both types of particles are infectious. EEVs would be the particles that would be shed into the environment by infected patients.
According to the U.S. Government's book Medical Aspects of Chemical and Biological Warfare, the smallpox EEV is highly stable and can retain its infectivity for long periods outside the host; however, sunlight and air greatly reduce the viability of virus particles. Smallpox is highly infectious when spread by aerosol, but infectivity from contaminated cotton bedding is infrequent (Bull. WHO 1957, 16:247-254), because the virus must enter through the nose to create infection. Thus, although it is certainly not impossible for a blanket to carry smallpox, transmission by blankets would be inefficient at best.
The Amherst letters suggest that Colonel Bouquet undoubtedly considered the possibility of infecting Indians with smallpox. In legal terms, this shows ``intent''. But continuing the analogy to a legal case, much more is needed to prove that a historical event occurred than intent. Even to indict someone for conspiracy, in which an actual crime need not be committed, a prosecutor still has to prove that some action took place in furtherance of the conspiracy. It's not too much to ask that historians, whose goal is (or should be) to determine whether an event occurred, be held to a similar standard. If the only evidence we had for World War II was a letter by some guy in Austria saying how nice it would be to start a war and kill off all the Jews, few would believe that WWII had actually occurred. Yet even without evidence, many are willing to believe this act of biological warfare took place.
It's important to maintain a skeptical attitude of the uncertainty surrounding events such as this. To this day, for example, many people still believe the politically-motivated stories, now known to be false, of J. Edgar Hoover being a transvestite, and of Nixon and Kissinger having overthrown Chilean president Salvador Allende. While we can recognize that our ancestors were often brutal, we must also guard against politically-inspired disinformation masquerading as historical fact.
WIKIPEDIA on "Smallpox blankets:"
Blankets with smallpox
On June 29, 1763, a week after the siege began, Bouquet was preparing to lead an expedition to relieve Fort Pitt when he received a letter from Amherst making the following proposal: "Could it not be contrived to send the smallpox among the disaffected tribes of Indians? We must on this occasion use every stratagem in our power to reduce them." 
Bouquet agreed, writing back to Amherst on July 13, 1763: "I will try to inoculate the bastards with some blankets that may fall into their hands, and take care not to get the disease myself." Amherst responded favorably on July 16, 1763: "You will do well to inoculate the Indians by means of blankets, as well as every other method that can serve to extirpate this execrable race."
However, there is no evidence that this was actually carried out. During a parley at Fort Pitt on June 24, 1763, Captain Simeon Ecuyer gave representatives of the besieging Delawares two blankets and a handkerchief that had been exposed to smallpox. It has been suggested that they hoped to spread the disease to the native tribes, but evidence for this has been taken out of context. The diary of William Trent, who was a commander of the militia of the townspeople of Pittsburgh during Pontiac's siege of the fort, contains an entry from which the following line is often quoted: "We gave them two Blankets and an Handkerchief out of the Small Pox Hospital. I hope it will have the desired effect." (May 24, 1763). However, the entire diary entry shows that this was clearly intended as a gesture of friendship:
"The Turtles Heart a principal Warrior of the Delawares and Mamaltee a Chief came within a small distance of the Fort Mr. McKee went out to them and they made a Speech letting us know that all our [POSTS] as Ligonier was destroyed, that great numbers of Indians [were coming and] that out of regard to us, they had prevailed on 6 Nations [not to] attack us but give us time to go down the Country and they desired we would set of[f] immediately. The Commanding Officer thanked them, let them know that we had everything we wanted, that we could defend it against all the Indians in the Woods, that we had three large Armys marching to Chastise those Indians that had struck us, told them to take care of their Women and Children, but not to tell any other Natives, they said they would go and speak to their Chiefs and come and tell us what they said, they returned and said they would hold fast of the Chain of friendship. Out of our regard to them we gave them two Blankets and an Handkerchief out of the Small Pox Hospital. I hope it will have the desired effect. They then told us that Ligonier had been attacked, but that the Enemy were beat of." 
Indians in the area did indeed contract smallpox. However, some historians have noted that it is impossible to verify how many people (if any) contracted the disease as a result of the Fort Pitt incident; the disease was already in the area and may have reached the Indians through other vectors. Indeed, even before the blankets had been handed over, the disease may have been spread to the Indians by native warriors returning from attacks on infected white settlements. So while it is certain that some British soldiers wanted to infect Indians with smallpox, it is uncertain whether or not their attempt was successful. Furthermore, it was not known how the virus was transmitted at this time - the concept of diseases being spread by living organisms was unknown until Louis Pasteur's experiments in 1859 - and blankets are a poor transmitter of the disease, which must enter through the nose to create infection. Infection from cotton bedding is rare. 
The idea of European settlers giving infected blankets to Indians is a part of public consciousness, and a common metaphor for a gift given with underhanded intentions.
Wil Wirtanen forwards this column from Townhall by Thomas Sowell:
A Fatal Trajectory
Tuesday, February 24, 2009
An increasing number of recent letters and e-mails from readers strike a note, not only of unhappiness with the way things are going in our society, but a note of despair.
Those of us who are pessimists are only a step away from despair ourselves, so we may not be the ones to offer the best antidote to the view that America has seen its best days and is degenerating toward what may well be its worst. Yet what hope remains is no less precious nor any less worthy of being preserved.
First of all, the day-to-day life of most Americans in these times is nowhere near as dire as that of the band of cold, ragged and hungry men who gathered around George Washington in the winter at Valley Forge, to which they had been driven by defeat after defeat.
Only the most reckless gambler would have bet on them to win. Only an optimist would have expected them to survive.
Against the background of those and other desperate times that this country has been through, we cannot whine today because the stocks in our pension plans have gone down or the inflated value that our houses had just a few years ago has now evaporated.
In another sense, however, looming ahead of us-- and our children and their children-- are dangers that can utterly destroy American society. Worse yet, there are moral corrosions within ourselves that weaken our ability to face the challenges ahead.
One of the many symptoms of this decay from within is that we are preoccupied with the pay of corporate executives while the leading terrorist-sponsoring nation on earth is moving steadily toward creating nuclear bombs.
Does anyone imagine that we will care what anyone's paycheck is when we see an American city in radioactive ruins?
Yet the only serious obstacle to that happening is that the Israelis may disregard the lofty blather coming out of the White House and destroy Iran's nuclear facilities before the Iranian fanatics can destroy Israel.
If by some miracle we manage to avoid the fatal dangers of a nuclear Iran, there will no doubt be others, including a nuclear North Korea.
Although, in some sense, the United States of America is still the militarily strongest nation on earth, that means absolutely nothing if our enemies are willing to die and we are not.
It took only two nuclear bombs to get Japan to surrender-- and the Japanese of that era were far tougher than most Americans today. Just one bomb-- dropped on New York, Chicago or Los Angeles-- might be enough to get us to surrender.
If we are still made of sterner stuff than it looks like, then it might take two or maybe even three or four nuclear bombs, but we will surrender.
It doesn't matter if we retaliate and kill millions of innocent Iranian civilians-- at least it will not matter to the fanatics in charge of Iran or the fanatics in charge of the international terrorist organizations that Iran supplies.
Ultimately, it all comes down to who is willing to die and who is not.
How did we get to this point? It was no single thing.
The dumbing down of our education, the undermining of moral values with the fad of "non-judgmental" affectations, the denigration of our nation through poisonous propaganda from the movies to the universities. The list goes on and on.
The trajectory of our course leads to a fate that would fully justify despair. The only saving grace is that even the trajectory of a bullet can be changed by the wind.
We have been saved by miraculous good fortune before in our history. The overwhelming military and naval expedition that Britain sent to New York to annihilate George Washington's army was totally immobilized by a vast impenetrable fog that allowed the Americans to escape. That is how they ended up in Valley Forge.
In the World War II naval battle of Midway, if things had not happened just the way they did, at just the time they did, the American naval force would not only have lost, but could have been wiped out by the far larger Japanese fleet.
Over the years, we have had our share of miraculous deliverances. But that our fate today depends on yet another miracle is what can turn pessimism to despair.
February 23, 2009
Dana Mathewson sent me this e-mail:
``No, I'm not kidding. Britain's Prince Charles, who as you may know is a Global Warmiac of the first rank (hey, it comes with not really having all that much to do) has converted most of his and his mum's cars to run on biodiesel. His 38-year-old Aston Martin is another matter -- <a href=http://www.autobloggreen.com/2008/07/01/prince-charles-converts-38-year-old-aston-martin-to-run-on-briti/>that's</a> been converted to run on 100% ethanol. Where does that come from?
British wine, that's where. (OK, I'll give you time to stop laughing.) Getting past the admittedly problematic concept (to me, anyhow), of "surplus wine," "
They were in such a hurry to pass the bill and now we know why.
Be prepared to have these far sighted governors be called racists and not caring.
This from the WSJ
Governors v. Congress
The stimulus sets a long-term budget trap for the states.
Debt-laden state governments were supposed to be the big winners from the $787 billion economic stimulus bill. But at least five Republican Governors are saying thanks but no thanks to some of the $150 billion of "free" money doled out to states, because it could make their budget headaches much worse down the line. And they're right.
These Governors -- Haley Barbour of Mississippi, Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, Butch Otter of Idaho, Rick Perry of Texas and Mark Sanford of South Carolina -- all have the same objection: The tens of billions of dollars of aid for health care, welfare and education will disappear in two years and leave states with no way to finance the expanded programs. Mr. Perry sent a letter to President Obama last week warning that Texas may refuse certain stimulus funds. "If this money expands entitlements, we will not accept it. This is exactly how addicts get hooked on drugs," he says.
Consider South Carolina. Its annual budget is roughly $7 billion and the stimulus will send about $2.8 billion to the state over two years. But to spend the hundreds of millions of dollars allocated to the likes of Head Start, child care subsidies and special education, the state will have to enroll thousands of new families into the programs. "There's no way politically we're going to be able to push people out of the program in two years when the federal money runs out," Mr. Sanford says.
The Medicaid money for states is also a fiscal time bomb. The stimulus bill temporarily increases the share of state Medicaid bills reimbursed by the federal government by two or three percentage points. High-income states now pay about half the Medicaid costs, and in low-income states the feds pay about 70%. Much of the stimulus money will cover health-care costs for unemployed workers and single workers without kids. But in 2011 almost all the $80 billion of extra federal Medicaid money vanishes. Does Congress really expect states to dump one million people or more from Medicaid at that stage?
The alternative, as we've warned, is that Congress will simply extend these transfer payments indefinitely. Pete Stark, David Obey and Nancy Pelosi no doubt intend exactly this, which could triple the stimulus price tag to as much as $3 trillion in additional spending and debt service over 10 years. But the states would still have to pick up their share of this tab for these new entitlements in perpetuity. Thanks, Washington.
Governors are protesting loudest over the $7 billion for unemployment insurance (UI) expansions. Under the law, states will increase UI benefits by $25 a week. The law also encourages states to cover part-time workers for the first time. The UI program is partly paid for by state payroll taxes imposed on employers of between 0.5% and 1% of each worker's pay. Mr. Barbour says that in Mississippi "we will absolutely have to raise our payroll tax on employers to keep benefits running after the federal dollars run out. This will cost our state jobs, so we'd rather not have these dollars in the first place."
The problem for these Governors is that they may be forced to spend the federal money whether they want it or not. Representative James Clyburn of South Carolina slipped a little-noticed provision into the stimulus bill giving state legislatures the power to overrule Governors and spend the money "by means of the adoption of a concurrent resolution." Most state legislatures are versions of Congress; they can't say no to new spending.
These five Governors deserve credit for blowing the whistle on the federal trap that Washington has set for their budgets. They stand in contrast to most of the other Governors, who are praising the stimulus as a way to paper over their fiscal holes through 2010. But money from Congress is never as free as it looks, as the banks can attest. Don't be surprised if two years from now states are still facing mountainous deficits. They will have their Uncle Sam to thank.
Newsmax blows the whistle on Barack Obama`s sweetheart mortgage. Seems The One likes to play by two sets of rules-one for himself (The One) and another for the little people-us bitter clingers:
FEC Admits Obama Got Preferential Mortgage Rate
The Federal Election Commission has closed its file on a complaint alleging that then-Sen. Barack Obama received a below market rate mortgage loan in 2005 for a $1.65 million home in Chicago.
But while the FEC ruled that no laws were violated, the agency did confirm that Obama received the discount rate.
And the lending institution has acknowledged that Obama got preferential loan terms due to his position in the Senate.
The complaint was filed in July 2008 by Judicial Watch, a non-profit educational foundation that works to combat government corruption.
It stated that Obama received a home loan of $1.32 million at a rate of 5.625 percent from Northern Trust in Illinois, although the average going rate at the time, according to two different surveys, was between 5.93 and 6 percent.
The Washington Post, which first raised questions about the loan, noted that "Obama paid no origination fee or discount points, as some consumers do to reduce their interest rates."
The Post calculated that the favorable rate would save Obama $300 a month, amounting to at least $108,000 over the life of the 30-year loan.
Judicial Watch contended that these preferential loan rates constituted an illegal corporate campaign contribution to Obama.
Northern Trust Vice President John O’Connell "essentially admitted the company provided Obama preferential loan terms because of his position in the U.S. Senate," according to a statement from Judicial Watch.
O’Connell told the Post: "A person’s occupation and salary are two factors; I would expect those are two things we would take into consideration."
Judicial Watch's complaint also cited a report from the Center for Responsive Politics that Northern Trust employees contributed $71,000 to Obama’s political campaigns since 1990.
The FEC based its decision to exonerate Obama largely on the fact that Northern Trust claims it provided preferential terms to other "similarly situated" but unnamed borrowers in addition to Obama.
The Judicial Watch statement concluded: "For the FEC to base its decision to excuse Obama on the fact that a few other unnamed borrowers also received sweetheart mortgages seems irresponsible . . .
"The fact is, Northern Trust's [vice president] admitted Obama received the loan, in part, based on his position. This is improper and almost certainly constitutes an illegal campaign contribution (or gift). In our view, the FEC’s response is inadequate."
The loan enabled Obama and his wife Michelle to buy a mansion with six bedrooms, four fireplaces, a four-car garage, 5 1/2 baths, wine cellar, music room, library, solarium and granite-floored kitchen.
February 21, 2009
The National Snow and Ice Data Center has admitted to ``losing`` 193,000 square miles of Arctic ice!
This misplaced ice is a result of ``sensory drift`` of satellite data. The NSIDC uses military satellites ``by applying algorithms to data from a series of Special Sensor Microwave/Imager (SSM/I) sensors on Defense Meteorological Satellite Program (DMSP) satellites`` to obtain their images, but these satellites were never designed for purely scientific purposes, and have given faulty data.
The NSIDC, is `` is part of the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences at the University of Colorado at Boulder`` according to their website and is supported in part by NASA, home of the infamous James Hansen. While the NSIDC is far from partisan, they seem to have staked their reputation on the notion that sea ice-particularly in the Arctic-is doomed to disappear, a result of Anthropogenic Global Warming.
Why did NSIDC make this error? Because in their quality control phase they simply refused to believe that there was more ice than they expected. They explain;
``As discussed above, near-real-time products do not undergo the same level of quality control as the final archived products, which are used in scientific research published in peer-reviewed journals. However, the SSM/I sensors have proven themselves to be generally quite stable. Thus, it is reasonable to use the near-real-time products for displaying evolving ice conditions, with the caveat that errors may nevertheless occur. Sometimes errors are dramatic and obvious. Other errors, such as the recent sensor drift, may be subtler and not immediately apparent. We caution users of the near-real-time products that any conclusions from such data must be preliminary. We believe that the potential problems are outweighed by the scientific value of providing timely assessments of current Arctic sea ice conditions, as long as they are presented with appropriate caveats, which we try to do.
For several years, we used the SSM/I sensor on the DMSP F13 satellite. Last year, F13 started showing large amounts of missing data. The sensor was almost 13 years old, and no longer provided complete daily data to allow us to track total daily sea ice extent. As a result, we switched to the DMSP F15 sensor for our near-real-time analysis. For more information on the switch, see ``Note on satellite update and intercalibration,`` in our June 3, 2008 post.
On February 16, 2009, as emails came in from puzzled readers, it became clear that there was a significant problem sea-ice-covered regions were showing up as open ocean. The problem stemmed from a failure of the sea ice algorithm caused by degradation of one of the DMSP F15 sensor channels. Upon further investigation, we found that data quality had begun to degrade over the month preceding the catastrophic failure. As a result, our processes underestimated total sea ice extent for the affected period. Based on comparisons with sea ice extent derived from the NASA Earth Observing System Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer (EOS AMSR-E) sensor, this underestimation grew from a negligible amount in early January to about 500,000 square kilometers (193,000 square miles) by mid-February (Figure 2). While dramatic, the underestimated values were not outside of expected variability until Monday, February 16. Although we believe that data prior to early January are reliable, we will conduct a full quality check in the coming days.``
So, why doesn`t NSIDC use the more modern sensors of the NASA Earth Observing System Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer EOS AMSR-E? They were unwilling to face the fact that Arctic ice isn`t going to disappear:
``Sensor drift is a perfect but unfortunate example of the problems encountered in near-real-time analysis. We stress, however, that this error in no way changes the scientific conclusions about the long-term decline of Arctic sea ice, which is based on the the consistent, quality-controlled data archive discussed above``
Now, I`m not accusing NSIDC of lying, or purposeful distortion of the truth (that`s a job for James Hansen) but I am saying that there is a default position held by many ``establishment`` types to choose the more ``alarmist`` position when there is a doubt-and that has a major impact on future projections. If we cannot get real time satellite data right, how can we get reliable projections of a future Armageddon? Even with direct measurements, there is a sizable fudge factor-in this instance a 193,000 mile of cold fudge (make mine maple, please!)
This is an unfortunate reflection of the problems with the entire Anthropogenic Global Warming scare; often faulty data is being fed into computer models, models that require a huge number of assumptions to make them work. These models have been tested by Patrick J. Michaels, S. Fred Singer, and David H. Douglass and found wanting, because they failed to predict current conditions based on historical data. The predictions made by these models have not been forthcoming, and model makers are still trying to find the lost heat in the oceans and in the tropical troposphere.
This mistake-one that the NSIDC has taken ownership of and corrected as quickly as possible-does not reflect poorly on this particular body so much as on the fundamental limitations of our observational abilities. How can we predict doom if we can lose a fifth of a million miles of ice, even while looking directly at it through a camera?
According to a carpenter I`ve known;
``Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall
take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the
We have wars, terrorists, rogue nations with nuclear weapons, penicillin-resistant diseases, chemical weapons, biological weapons which may include plague and even smallpox, we have the spectre of total economic collapse through a spending spree of a trillion bucks, etc. Do we really need to worry about a computer game played by some over-funded geeks?
Sufficient unto the day, my friends! We have more immediate fish to fry.
Hat tip; CCNET
Americans for Limited Government has challenged Obama`s Labor Secretary select Hilda (Beast) Solis.
Here is there press release:
ALG President Alerts House Ethics Committee to Apparent Ethics Violations by Representative Hilda Solis
February 20th, 2009, Fairfax, VA Americans for Limited Government President Bill Wilson today sent a letter to the House Ethics Committee that raised questions as to whether President Barack Obama's choice for Labor Secretary, Representative Hilda Solis (D-CA), violated House Ethics Rules as a House member when she ``engaged in lobbying activity targeted at Members of the House.``
``There are serious questions concerning the interpretation of House Ethics Rules raised by Representative Solis' activities,`` said Wilson in a statement.
According to the letter to the House Ethics Committee, Congresswoman Hilda Solis served as Treasurer of the 501(c)(4) organization, Americans Rights at Work (ARG), while the organization was actively engaged in lobbying members of Congress, most recently to vote in favor of the Employee Free Choice Act.
The letter also notes that Representative Solis failed to properly disclose this information on financial disclosure forms from 2004 to 2007 to the Clerk of the House of Representatives as she is required to do.
The letter states, ``Filing a false disclosure report is a very serious matter and can result in criminal penalties pursuant to 18 U.S.C. Sec. 1001. Filing a false report also deprives the public of information that would enable inspection of whether a Member's official actions are conflicted with their private activities.``
While Wilson believes his interpretation of House Ethics rules is correct, he is seeking guidance of the committee because, according to the letter, ``If our reading of House Rules and Ethical Standards are incorrect, it is our intent to begin working with a number of Members of the House in a manner similar to that of Representative Solis.``
In his statement, Wilson said, ``This is a simple matter of how the Ethics Committee interprets its own rules. If it's okay for Representative Solis to behave in this manner, then it's okay for all Representatives to do likewise and serve as active board members for 501(c)(4) organizations.``
``But, if we are correct in our interpretation, and Representative Solis indeed violated House Ethics Rules, then the committee is duty-bound to follow up,`` Wilson added.
Wilson warned the committee that there would be consequences if it knowingly failed to act upon an ethics violation.
``I trust the House Ethics Committee will set aside partisan politics and take its duties as seriously as it pretends to when members of the opposing party appear to have committed violations,`` Wilson concluded
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