TIA Daily- Garbage In, Gospel Out

TIADaily.com March 30, 2010

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Commentary by Robert Tracinski

1. Runaway Congressional Majority

The passage of the health care bill has broken the dam, and we can now expect a new flood of attacks on our liberty. The Democrats have discovered that they have the raw power to pass legislation by virtue of the sheer size of the majority that American voters foolishly gave them. And I think they already realize that they're going to lose that majority in November—so they'd better ram through statist legislation while they still can.

Thus, newspapers are reporting that passing legislation with no Republican votes is the new model for how our runaway congressional majority will operate, and that the Obama administration is adopting a more "confrontational" approach.

The immediate result is that the cap-and-trade bill—which I had hoped would die simply from being delayed for seven months by the health care debate—is now coming back and may be passed through the same method as the health care bill: throwing out the House version that died last year in the Senate, adopting a new Senate version, and passing that through the House.

Judging from the main link below, we can expect all of the same stages of the debate, including the larding up of the bill with all sort of favors, bribes, and special treatment to get big corporations behind the legislation. And of course there are the obstreperous objections of the far left that the bill contains all of these corporate giveaways and doesn't go far enough to impose government control—objections that will be dropped when it comes time to actually vote, since the left knows that the important thing is to establish the regulatory regime, then work on double-crossing the big corporations later on. The only difference is that this bill might be "bipartisan" by virtue of having one Republican vote: South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham.

Graham isn't up for re-election until 2014. Does South Carolina have a recall procedure?

Jack Wakeland sent me the link below, along with the following comments:

"Obama's support for new nuclear power plants and more offshore drilling are a political gambit—an attempt to win support for CO2 caps.

"The Kerry-Lieberman-Graham CO2 regulation bill will be draconian. Carbon caps would be imposed first on the electricity utility industry (in 2012) and then on all manufacturers (in 2016). Draconian oil and gasoline taxes would also be imposed.

"The CO2 reduction targets?

"A decade of recessions and slow growth (17% CO2 reduction by 2020), followed by the Maoist plan to drive the economy into a permanent depression and end all liberties for all Americans (80% CO2 reduction by 2050).

"Yes, yes, I know: there is zero chance that even if it were signed into law the Kerry-Lieberman-Graham plan to permanently collapse the US economy and end liberty could actually be implemented. One can't write a law to 'gently phase in' the end of the Republic. Such a feat could never be achieved by a mere piece of paper. It could only be achieved by force of arms.

"So why write it into the law? Do Kerry, Lieberman, and Graham want us to lower our expectations for how much happiness we can expect during the remainder of our lives? Do they actually think they can get us to accept the idea that we can do nothing—turn on a light, eat a steak, drive to work in the morning, have a place to go to work or a productive job of any kind at all—without their permission?

"I don't think that plan is going to work out for them, either."


"Senators Work on Bipartisan Climate Bill," Kevin Sieff, Financial Times, March 29

Three senior US lawmakers are piecing together a sweeping bipartisan energy and climate bill, which looks set to include sweeteners to galvanise support among Republicans and industry groups….

Nearly six months have passed since the Senate's most recent climate bill failed to win over conservatives and moderates, a political stalemate that cast a shadow on America's presence at the Copenhagen climate summit. But some Democrats say the passage of healthcare reform has opened the door for climate change legislation….

According to people briefed by the senators, the bill aims to cut carbon emissions from 2005 levels by 17 per cent by 2020 and 80 per cent by 2050, largely by implementing separate caps on utilities and manufacturers. The federal government would sell separate pollution permits to each sector, using a "hard price collar" to limit greenhouse gas allowances to between $10 and $30 per ton, and committing to flood the market with credits if the price ceiling is exceeded….

By mentioning investment in conventional energy, the senators have elicited favourable responses from industry leaders, including BP executives and lobbyists from the US Chamber of Commerce, who opposed the Waxman-Markey cap-and-trade bill passed by the House of Representatives last spring….

Mr. Graham…hopes his sector-by-sector approach to regulation, unlike Waxman-Markey's economy-wide cap, will help him save face among conservatives. His role in the bill's formulation was itself in doubt after he said the Democrats' handling of healthcare reform "poisoned the well" for bipartisan co-operation....

The bill is likely to be introduced by late April. Despite bipartisan sponsors, its passage is not guaranteed. Last week, 10 Democratic senators said they would not support unlimited offshore oil exploration.









2. "Garbage In, Gospel Out"

The horrifying irony of the new push for cap-and-trade is that it comes after global warming claims have been widely discredited and exposed as a fraud.

In the wake of Climategate, American anti-environmentalist crusader Chris Horner has forced the release of internal documents from NASA's main climate science unit, the misleadingly named Goddard Institute for Space Studies. This includes an admission that NASA's global temperature data is in even worse shape than the data from Britain's Climatic Research Unit—and that's saying something.

This is part of a campaign by dogged American skeptics to expose systematic scientific corruption at the GISS. The article below links to another good exposé at the skeptic website ICECAP.

But I link to the blog post below because it contains a wonderful formulation of how the scientific corruption of the data works: "garbage in, gospel out."

Here are Jack Wakeland's comments on this link:

"NASA's GISS reports from 1976, 1980, 1987, and 2007 are a clear and objective record of the progression of fraud being steadily introduced into the surface temperature record.

"We know from recent statistical analysis by Smith, D'Aleo, and Watts what happened to the GISS temperature record after 1987. In the late 80s and early 90s, 75% of surface temperature stations—mostly from rural and high altitude locations—were systematically removed from the GISS database. This dramatically enhanced the urban heat island effect as urban sprawl blossomed around the globe around a large fraction of the "good" measuring stations that GISS retained in the database.

"We also know from numerous science bloggers, including D'Aleo and Watts, that several individual station records were 'adjusted' for changes in instrumentation and changes in local siting, and that undocumented and unjustifiable adjustments—some as high as + 2.1 C over 20 years—were added in order to retroactively reduce temperatures measured in the 1930s, 40s, and 50s and to proactively increase temperatures measured in the 1950s ,60s, 70s, 80s, 90s, and 00s.

"Duncan Davidson does a very useful job of looking at the history of how NASA's historical temperature record has 'evolved' over the past 35 years. He aptly sums it up by saying 'What looked like a clear case of "Garbage In, Garbage Out" is proving to be a case of "Garbage In, Gospel Out."'"

Meanwhile, I failed to mention that last Saturday was "Earth Hour," in which we're all supposed to turn off our lights and all other electrical appliances so we can experience a tiny symbolic preview of the privation that will become a normal part of our lives in ten years, when the electrical grid begins blacking out for part of every day, just like it does in Third World countries.

I ignored Earth Hour because, based on experience from past years, everybody else does, too. (Last year, I recall that a writer Down Under looked up electricity usage figures for major Australian cities and noticed a slight increase during Earth Hour.) Thus, the main achievement of this year's Earth Hour seems to be that the Canadian environment minister set his cat on fire.


"ClimateGate Goes Back to 1980," Duncan Davidson, Wall Street Pit, March 19

James Hansen of GISS appears to have systematically adjusted the historical temperature record to remove a cold patch in the '70s in order to exaggerate the rise since….

Watch how the cooling trend of the 1960's to 1970's is steadily adjusted up so that 0.3 degrees cooler gradually becomes 0.03 warmer….

The article goes on to explain how weather balloon data created the prior temperature record, and is considered very accurate. It also matches very closely to satellite data, which started in 1979. Significantly, satellite data has diverged from the surface temperature data, showing less warming, pointing to the deception.

The whole AGW edifice is built on surface temperature from three sources: Hansen's GISS, the UK's HadCRUt and the NOAA. The GISS data is now seen to be manipulated; the HadCRUt data is suspect since it is from the main sources of the ClimateGate emails; and NOAA is even warmer than both of them, suggesting manipulation there too.

Much of the rest of climate science is built on data which is now suspect. What is now seen as Garbage In, Garbage Out had been Garbage In, Gospel Out.







3. Runaway Executive Power

It's not just a runaway congressional majority we have to worry about. There's also the enormous, unchecked regulatory power that Congress has handed to the executive branch over the years.

This may give President Obama the ability to use a recess appointment—which temporarily bypasses congressional approval—to install a labor union plant in a key position where he will be able to unilaterally eliminate the secret ballot in unionization votes. The lack of a secret ballot means that if you don't want your workplace to be unionized, you will be "persuaded" otherwise by beefy union thugs.


"Card Check by Fiat," Investor's Business Daily, March 26

Republican senators have warned the president not to appoint Craig Becker to the National Labor Relations Board while Congress is in recess. But he will—and American workers and consumers will be worse off for it….

It's not so much because Becker is a lawyer for the AFL-CIO and the Service Employees International Union and would be the first NLRB member to come straight from the legal staff of organized labor, though that's a concern….

Becker for years has been making the argument that labor rules favoring unions that can't gain congressional approval can nonetheless "be achieved with almost no alteration of the statutory framework." His desire to usurp Congress' authority to make law hasn't gone unnoticed by Sen. Ben Nelson. The Nebraska Democrat thinks Becker's record strongly indicates that he would "pursue a personal agenda" at the board "rather than that of the administration."

The unions don't even make a secret of their plans to bypass the legislative process if they can't get what they want from Congress. As Stewart Acuff, chief of staff and assistant to the president of the Utility Workers Union of America, wrote last month in the Huffington Post:

"If we aren't able to pass the Employee Free Choice Act, we will work with President Obama and Vice President Biden and their appointees to the National Labor Relations Board to change the rules governing forming a union through administrative action."







4. The Obama Banana Republic

Remember what things were like during the first six months of the Obama administration, when one outrageously lawless government intervention after another left us to wonder if anything would be left of the rule of law?

We had an eight-month reprieve from that onslaught when everything was put on hold for the health care debate. Now we can expect to go back to the Obama Banana Republic for another seven months.

The article below describes one of the most flagrant abuses of power I have ever seen: hauling corporate CEOs before a congressional committee to threaten them for honestly reporting the actual economic impact of ObamaCare on their companies, rather than just repeating the administration's talking points.


"The ObamaCare Writedowns," Wall Street Journal, March 27

It's been a banner week for Democrats: ObamaCare passed Congress in its final form on Thursday night, and the returns are already rolling in. Yesterday AT&T announced that it will be forced to make a $1 billion writedown due solely to the health bill, in what has become a wave of such corporate losses….

Henry Waxman and House Democrats announced yesterday that they will haul these companies in for an April 21 hearing because their judgment "appears to conflict with independent analyses, which show that the new law will expand coverage and bring down costs."

In other words, shoot the messenger. Black-letter financial accounting rules require that corporations immediately restate their earnings to reflect the present value of their long-term health liabilities, including a higher tax burden. Should these companies have played chicken with the Securities and Exchange Commission to avoid this politically inconvenient reality? Democrats don't like what their bill is doing in the real world, so they now want to intimidate CEOs into keeping quiet.










5. The Age of Fiscal Crisis

Washington Post economics columnist Robert Samuelson exists to serve a very narrow but important function: to constantly remind us about the hard numbers that show the massive costs of our welfare state—and to constantly condemn our political leaders for evading those numbers.

For the past month or so, Samuelson has been positively apoplectic as he has observed the Obama administration's swashbuckling disregard for the basic solvency of the United States government.

The column below is particularly strong for its identification of the left's hypocrisy in condemning the "shortsightedness" of bankers during the financial crisis—while squandering the nation's finances on a vastly larger scale.

It is important to grasp that what Samuelson describes is not some temporary crisis. It is what our lives will look like from now on. The bills are coming due for the welfare state, and the result is that we are entering a period of permanent fiscal crisis—a crisis that can only be solved if we decide to begin rolling back the welfare state.


"With Health Bill, Obama Has Sown the Seeds of a Budget Crisis," Robert J. Samuelson, Washington Post, March 29

When historians recount the momentous events of recent weeks, they will note a curious coincidence. On March 15, Moody's Investors Service—the bond rating agency—published a paper warning that the exploding US government debt could cause a downgrade of Treasury bonds. Just six days later, the House of Representatives passed President Obama's health-care legislation costing $900 billion or so over a decade and worsening an already-bleak budget outlook.

Should the United States someday suffer a budget crisis, it will be hard not to conclude that Obama and his allies sowed the seeds, because they ignored conspicuous warnings. A further irony will not escape historians. For two years, Obama and members of Congress have angrily blamed the shortsightedness and selfishness of bankers and rating agencies for causing the recent financial crisis. The president and his supporters, historians will note, were equally shortsighted and self-centered—though their quest was for political glory, not financial gain.

Let's be clear. A "budget crisis" is not some minor accounting exercise. It's a wrenching political, social, and economic upheaval. Large deficits and rising debt—the accumulation of past deficits—spook investors, leading to higher interest rates on government loans. The higher rates expand the budget deficit and further unnerve investors. To reverse this calamitous cycle, the government has to cut spending deeply or raise taxes sharply. Lower spending and higher taxes in turn depress the economy and lead to higher unemployment. Not pretty.

Greece is experiencing such a crisis. Until recently, conventional wisdom held that only developing countries—managed ineptly—were candidates for true budget crises. No more. Most wealthy societies with aging populations, including the United States, face big gaps between their spending promises and their tax bases. No one in Congress could be unaware of this.




6. Tea Party Politics

Will the American people reconcile themselves to ObamaCare now that the bill has been passed? Maybe not. The latest polls show no lasting bounce for Obama after the bill's passage. I have to admit that was a surprise to me; I had expected a slight increase in Obama's approval among those on the far left who were disappointed that the bill was stalled for so long.

Meanwhile, the Democratic party's base of support in the media is shriveling up. Ratings for MSNBC and CNN have been on a protracted downward slide, and in recent months, CNN's ratings have collapsed—just as right-leaning Fox News Channel has continued to grow.

For example, viewership of Larry King's prime time talk show is down 50% from last year, posting its worst month ever—while Glenn Beck's show over at Fox is up 50%. And it doesn't look like CNN is going to turn things around any time soon: "CNN executives have steadfastly said that they will not change their approach to prime-time programs, which are led by hosts not aligned with any partisan point of view."

"Not aligned with any partisan view?" Remember, the first step is realizing that you have a problem.

Many commentators and bloggers on the right have pointed out one of the reasons for this collapse: CNN's hostile, condescending coverage of the tea party movement. (CNN's Anderson Cooper is the source of the "teabagger" slur.) But the tea party movement simply represents the millions of independent who have flipped to the right since President Obama was elected—and flipped channels to Fox.

The mainstream print media is adopting the same suicidal strategy, working itself up into a full-scale smear of the tea partiers as violent racists. The New York Times is leading the charge, with the latest smear coming from Frank Rich, who including the laughable hyperbole of referring to the chant, "Kill the bill!" as "homicidal rhetoric."

The public's turn to the right is vividly described in the Rasmussen poll report linked to below, which shows massive, sustained public support for the tea party movement, which is now significantly more popular than Congress. Note particularly that about one quarter of Democrats report some sympathy for the tea party movement—which implies that they won't be Democrats for long.

Meanwhile, Michael Barone looks at poll results from a Missouri Senate contest and notes that a personally unpopular Republican candidate is now polling ahead of a personally popular Democrat. What accounts for that inversion? The voters' opposition to President Obama. This indicates the potential for a political tsunami in November.


"Most Say Tea Party Has Better Understanding of Issues than Congress," Rasmussen Reports, March 28

In official Washington, some consider the Tea Party movement a fringe element in society, but voters across the nation feel closer to the Tea Party movement than they do to Congress.

The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 52% of US voters believe the average member of the Tea Party movement has a better understanding of the issues facing America today than the average member of Congress. Only 30% believe that those in Congress have a better understanding of the key issues facing the nation.

When it comes to those issues, 47% think that their own political views are closer to those of the average Tea Party member than to the views of the average member of Congress. On this point, 26% feel closer to Congress.

Finally, 46% of voters say that the average Tea Party member is more ethical than the average member of Congress. Twenty-seven percent (27%) say that the average member of Congress is more ethical.

As you would expect, there is a wide divide between the Political Class and Mainstream Americans on these questions. Seventy-five percent (75%) of those in the Political Class say that members of Congress are better informed on the issues. Among Mainstream Americans, 68% have the opposite view, and only 16% believe Congress is better informed.

By a 62% to 12% margin, Mainstream Americans say the Tea Party is closer to their views….

Forty-five percent (45%) of those in Nancy Pelosi's party say that their views are closer to the average member of Congress. However, 28% of Democrats say their views are closer to the average member of the Tea Party.