Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Climate change: What 150 years of global warming has done to Earth

As we celebrated the beginning of spring last week, then had our hopes for an end to winter weather dashed by forecasts of snow this week, a new report on global warming/climate change came out.

This report tells us that while the last 16 years where no additional warming of the climate were recorded, the previous 150 years where warming did occur are more important. It also explained what that century and a half of warming has meant for life on the Earth.

Since 1970 environment watchers have made quite a few predictions of dire consequences to the planet caused by the activities of humans that have thrown the environment into chaos, among which are:

  • By 1980 all of the important animal life in the sea will be extinct. 
  • By the year 2000 the United Kingdom will be simply a small group of impoverished islands, inhabited by some 70 million hungry people.
  • The world will be eleven degrees colder by the year 2000.
  • By 1985, air pollution will have reduced the amount of sunlight reaching Earth by half.
  • A general warming trend over the North Pole is melting the polar ice cap and may produce an ice-free Arctic Ocean by the year 2000.
  • Within a few years children just aren't going to know what snow is. Snowfall will be a very rare and exciting event.

Fortunately, none of those predictions has come true, but what has 150 years of warming done to the humans whose dangerous activities are said to be causing it?

Well, according to a report from the National Center for Policy Analysis (NCPA) by H. Sterling Burnett, this warming has been beneficial, not dangerous.

Over the last 150 years the Earth has warmed an average of 0.8 degrees Celsius, according to economist Richard Tol, an increase that has had a positive impact on the world’s economy. Dr. Tol, who holds doctorates in economics and environmental economics, and teaches at the University of Sussex and Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam, says further that an additional rise of 2.2 degrees in temperature would continue to yield substantial benefits until at least 2080.

Mr. Burnett cites data from Dr. Tol showing that climate change has added 1.4 percent to global economic output over the last century, a figure that should rise to 1.5 percent by 2025. The increase in CO2 added 0.8 percent to GDP due to the boost it produced in agricultural production, and the warmer temperatures reduced the demand for heating, adding another 0.4 percent to GDP.

“With higher CO2 levels, plants thrive and become more efficient in their use of water,” the NCPA report states. “And because most of the warming has reduced low nighttime temperatures, the globe has seen fewer growth-stunting frost events, as well as longer growing seasons.”

Citing information from agronomist and geographer Craig Idso, the Stuart report asserts that improved plant growth over a 50-year period starting in 1961 totaled $3.2 trillion, and from today through 2050 increased CO2 will add $9.8 trillion to crop production.

And the greatest benefits in improved agricultural production have occurred in Africa, with one-third of that continent’s countries growing at 6 percent, and the poverty line dropping from 51 percent to 39 percent.

At the same time as this very positive information materializes, an assistant philosophy professor at Rochester Institute of Technology has advocated putting some of those who oppose the manmade climate change theory in jail.

Lawrence Torcello’s stepping-off point came after an earthquake in Italy where six Italian scientists and a defense minister were subsequently sentenced to six years in prison because the official didn’t adequately warn the public following several minor tremors of the possibility, or likelihood, of a full-scale quake, which did occur, and the scientists failed to correct the official’s error.

“When it comes to global warming, much of the public remains in denial about a set of facts that the majority of scientists clearly agree on,” says the philosophy professor. “With such high stakes, an organized campaign funding misinformation ought to be considered criminally negligent.”

It’s quite a stretch to equate people failing to provide information about a likely imminent event with people who financially support the contrarian view of a popular but unproven scientific theory, the contrarian view of which is itself strongly supported by scientists.

Further thwarting the Torcello plan is the indisputable fact that the time between tremors and the earthquake they foreshadowed was a matter of hours, where any harm that might come to humans from opposing the radical prescriptions to combat climate change is years or decades in the future.

Applying the professor’s goofy idea to those who financially supported opposition to the dire predictions listed previously, we might have dozens in prison for being correct.

Liberals seem always to prefer shutting down dissent rather than having civil and productive discussions about the different ideas. This happens for two reasons. First, they are unable to disprove the opposing position with actual facts, and second, their arrogance compels in them the belief that they are always right, and that justifies them using any means necessary to implement their radical and dangerous agenda.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Is being “bossy” really a serious societal problem in America?

A new crisis threatens the nation. Some women are upset at having been called “bossy” when they were young. This term is so offensive to them that they want the word banned. Yes, that’s right, they want to banish the word “bossy” from the lexicon, never again to be used in any context, even to describe a male, as so many did to Mitt Romney during the 2012 presidential campaign.

 “Bossy” is now the “B-word,” but must not be confused with another B-word, which arguably is a more serious insult to women.

In junior high, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg recounts, a teacher stopped her best friend and told her: "Nobody likes a bossy girl. You should find a new friend who will be a better influence on you."

"This is a very negative experience for girls,” she said. “If you look at my childhood, if you look at the childhood of most of the leaders we talked to, they lived through being told they were bossy," Sandberg said. "And it has such a strongly female, and such a strongly negative connotation, that we thought the best way to raise awareness was to say, 'This isn't a word we should use.’”

Okay, so young girls were often referred to as “bossy” because they told others what to do. But isn’t the term “bossy” really just the reaction to a particular type of behavior?

If someone is “bossy,” doesn’t that imply that the person thinks they know better than everyone else how things should be done? Maybe they’re right, or maybe they’re wrong, but their behavior sends that message.

I have worked for and with women who were good leaders, but were not “bossy,” and I’ve worked along side both men and women who weren’t in a leadership position, but were plenty “bossy.” Being “bossy” is gender-neutral, and is not a requirement for being a good leader. Having been called “bossy” does not seem to have hurt Ms. Sandberg’s career.

So that begs the question: why would anyone be offended at having the behavior they willingly exhibit being accurately identified? Wouldn’t the offended person’s proper response be to modify their behavior so as to no longer impress others as being bossy? Or, just grin and bear it?

Ms. Sandberg and Girl Scouts CEO Anna Maria Chavez expressed the idea in a Wall Street Journal op-ed that using “bossy” to describe girls is at the center of the problem of unequal treatment of girls and boys, noting that girls who lead are more often described as "bossy" and "overly ambitious" while boys who lead are described as "strong" and "determined."

Perhaps men and women are perceived differently and receive different treatment because men and women are inherently different creatures. We know this because Time Magazine told us so after it had an epiphany back in 1992, and thought the discovery warranted a cover story. “Why Are Men and Women Different? It isn’t just upbringing. New studies show they are born that way,” the cover announced.

Since the women’s movement in the 60s there has been a strong effort for equality between men and women, particularly in the workplace.

There certainly is no reason women cannot be doctors, lawyers, accountants, CEOs, politicians, financial advisers, etc. And there is no reason that if women want to perform those traditionally male jobs, like construction, carpentry, welding, truck driving, mining, or be police officers and firefighters, etc., they certainly can.

But while women may want to have careers, just as men do, nature has placed restrictions on them. Nature has deemed that women are the only gender that can bear children and nurture them in the earliest part of their lives, and the mother’s role is a critical and important duty in our world.

Men cannot be mothers; they are not built for the job, either physically or emotionally. Which is not to say men cannot play a stronger role in parenting and taking care of the home. But they cannot be mothers, and mothers will always have a different role than fathers.

And for that reason, mothers and fathers can never be totally equal, either in the workplace, or in the home.

In Ms. Sandberg’s book Women, Work, and the Will to Lead, which she called "sort of a feminist manifesto," she encouraged women to "lean in" to their careers, yield to their sense of ambition and don’t shrink when they incur challenges in their work-life balance.

Ms. Sandberg’s efforts seem designed to show women as victims who are discriminated against in the workplace.

But when you look at the studies, they show that women frequently choose lower paying careers than men, tend to prefer a better lifestyle to working the longer hours required by many better paying jobs, and they take off blocks of time from their jobs, often due to childbearing, more frequently than men, which affects moving up.

Some of us try to equalize things that are inherently unequal, due to situations that those on the short end actually have helped to create.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Government encroachments on liberty, in the name of fighting terrorism

These days talk of government excesses is routine. A list of recent infractions contains things like the Internal Revenue Service using its resources to persecute applicants for non-profit status and the National Security Agency collecting data on every American’s phone calls and email.

Government excesses have been growing for a long time, and since 19 Muslim terrorists hijacked four airliners and successfully crashed three of them into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on September 11, 2001, the U.S. has been taking strong measures to detect potential terrorist threats, and these are by far the most threatening excesses.

The first of these was the USA Patriot Act, created and passed less than two months after the 9-11 attacks, and signed into law by President George W. Bush. Things have not improved since that fateful law passed.

The problem with such measures is that while they may or may not help prevent a terrorist attack, they present a frightening opportunity for government abuse. Americans are rightly distrustful of such mechanisms, and our Constitution prohibits our government from adopting liberty-crushing measures like these.

The National Defense Authorization Act of 2012 (NDAA) was passed and signed into law by President Barack Obama, and greatly expanded the power and scope of the federal government to fight the War on Terror, including codifying into law the indefinite detention of terrorism suspects without trial. Including US citizens. Under the new law the US military has the power to carry out domestic anti-terrorism operations on US soil under the broad new anti-terrorism provisions provided in the bill.

This is not the first time such extraordinary misuse of the military has been considered. In 2002 a similar discussion arose, but was ultimately quashed by Mr. Bush.

Those features in the NDAA are unacceptable, even in the name of fighting terrorism. Prior to the NDAA the Posse Comitatus Act prohibited Federal military personnel and units of the United States National Guard under Federal authority from acting in a law enforcement capacity within the United States, except where expressly authorized by the Constitution or Congress. Americans also enjoyed the protections of the 4th Amendment to the United States Constitution. The intention was to prevent precisely what the 2012 NDAA enacted into law.

Nevertheless, Mr. Obama signed the NDAA into law, saying, “I have signed this bill despite having serious reservations with certain provisions that regulate the detention, interrogation and prosecution of suspected terrorists.”

However, according to Michigan Democrat Senator Carl Levin, Mr. Obama demanded that American citizens be included under the detention law and that the President of the United States have exclusive authority to invoke the statute. “The language which precluded the application of Section [1021] to American citizens was in the bill that we originally approved…and the administration asked us to remove the language which says that U.S. citizens and lawful residents would not be subject to this section,” Sen. Levin said after the NDAA was signed into law.

Critics all across the political spectrum rightly opposed the NDAA because of elements in section 1021.

While many government excesses and cases of misbehavior go along uninterrupted, a federal judge appropriately put a stop to the offending elements of the 2012 NDAA only months after it took affect.

Federal Judge Kathleen Forrest granted a preliminary injunction striking down those sections of the NDAA that sought to provide the president the power to indefinitely detain citizens without benefit of their rights.

Judge Forrest concluded that Section 1021 “…failed to ‘pass Constitutional muster’ because its broad language could be used to quash political dissent.” In a statement clearly directed to lawmakers, she added, ”Section 1021 tries to do too much with too little – it lacks the minimal requirements of definition and scienter that could easily have been added, or could be added, to allow it to pass constitutional muster.”

The Obama administration, however, then fought successfully to appeal Judge Forrest’s injunction, and a 2013 version of the bill contains the same intolerable provisions as the 2012 version, and was also signed by President Obama.

Despite Mr. Obama’s comforting words, despite the bi-partisan opposition to section 1021, Mr. Obama demanded that language exempting America citizens and lawful residents from the provisions of Section 1021 be removed, he fought for and won keeping the Section alive in the 2012 version, and signed the 2013 version with those provisions contained in it.

No matter how much you may trust Mr. Bush, Mr. Obama, or any future president, no president can be allowed to have the absolute authority provided in the NDAA to detain citizens without due process, or to set the US military against the people. No individual can be allowed that authority. Ever!

There goes “innocent until proven guilty,” a major protection for citizens against tyranny. Erik Kain, writing on, says: “We’re talking about the stripping away of our most basic freedoms. We’re talking about a potential state that can call me a terrorist for writing this blog post and then lock me up and throw away the key.”

A majority of the US House and Senate approved these measures. Is this what you expect of your elected representatives?

Tuesday, March 04, 2014

Reidin’, Rightin’, and ‘Rithmetic

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) gave a speech on the Senate floor last week where he said this about the disastrous implementation of the Affordable Care Act: "Despite all that good news, there’s plenty of horror stories being told. All of them are untrue."

This abjectly stupid remark ignores the problems millions of the people Harry Reid serves as Majority Leader have encountered at the hands of this Democrat-created nightmare, some of them with life-threatening consequences.

Some say he really was alluding to claims made in ads paid for by the Koch brothers, about which he specifically commented shortly after that major gaffe, claiming the Kochs are trying to “buy America” through Americans for Prosperity, a 501(c)(4) started by David Koch and Richard Fink.

He believes that the Koch brothers are the single greatest threat to liberty, “spending hundreds of millions of dollars telling Americans that Obamacare is bad for them.”

However, Koch Industries donated less than $3 million in the 2012 election cycle, earning 77th place on the Top Donor List of Americans for Prosperity is reported to have spent $40 million, but does not appear on the Top Donor List.

Top Donor organizations ahead of Koch Industries include: the National Education Association, #5 at $14.7 million; the United Auto Workers, #8 at $13.3 million; the American Federation of State/County/Municipal Employees, #10 at $11.4 million; the AFL-CIO, #14 at $9 million; and the Service Employees International Union, #18 at $6.6 million. Ten more labor unions beat Koch Industries in spending. Organized labor is “buying America” to a much larger extent than Koch Industries and Americans for Prosperity combined.

Harry Reid misleads us on political spending, and lied to us during the 2012 campaign about Mitt Romney having paid no taxes for 10 years. He epitomizes the sordid aspects of partisan politics, and simply cannot be believed.


On May 5, 2010 Latino students at Live Oak High School in Morgan Hill, California turned out to celebrate their Mexican heritage on Cinco de Mayo.

When some American students showed up at school wearing American-flag shirts, school officials ordered the American students to turn their shirts inside-out or go home, to avoid a repeat of the unrest that had occurred during past observances of this date.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals last week upheld the action of school officials.

So, when students from Mexico attending American schools want to flaunt their Mexican-ness in the face of the American students by waving Mexican flags on a Mexican holiday, and some American students decide to show their patriotism by wearing American flag shirts, the school authorities believe that the American students are wrong, and the Mexican students are right, and a federal court agrees with them.


Whacky, radical rulings like this one have earned the Court the nickname, “The 9th Circus.” The Mexican students should not be allowed to stir up sentiments by waving a foreign flag around to celebrate Cinco de Mayo. If they prefer Mexico to the U.S., perhaps they should just go back.


Congressman Dave Camp (R-Mich.), Chair of the House Ways and Means Committee, has produced a tax reform plan based upon three years of hearings and discussions with bi-partisan groups.

Hardly anyone who pays taxes will argue against reforming this overly complex system. The last round was in 1986, and at that time the tax code was more than 26,000 pages. Thirty years later, the tax system is a incoherent mess that negatively affects prosperity, job creation and investment, and is regulated by a tax code that has nearly tripled in size to roughly 75,000 pages.

Each year the tax code gets further complicated with more special interest loopholes, credits, and carve-outs.

Rep. Camp would make several changes to the code, like eliminating loopholes, reducing tax rates, whittling down the current seven tax brackets to three, and lowering the corporate tax rate from 35 percent, the highest in the industrialized world, to 25 percent.

In those 75,000 pages are goodies for numerous interests, and they will scream bloody murder if their special goody is on the chopping block. The Heritage Foundation’s Stephen Moore notes that we can “expect the White House to lambast this plan as a ‘tax cut for the rich,’ but the evidence from history shows that lower tax rates are usually associated with higher overall tax receipts and more taxes paid by the rich. In the 1980s after two rounds of Reagan tax rate reductions, income tax receipts doubled, and the share of taxes paid by the top 1 percent, 5 percent, and 10 percent rose as the economy expanded.”

This plan simplifies the tax code by allowing millions of tax filers a larger standard deduction, meaning they don’t need to itemize and can use the EZ form. For those who do itemize, the mortgage and charity deductions remain.

While the Camp plan isn’t perfect, and produced quite a few knee-jerk criticisms, it has many advantages, and is certainly a good start toward finally transforming the current tax code into something that is sensible and easy to understand. Let’s hope Congress has the courage to follow through.