Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Will The (Incandescent) Light Bulb Ban Inspire A Conversion?

From The American Thinker:

November 29, 2010

Will The Light Bulb Ban Inspire a Conversion?

By Luminus Maximus

Why is the incandescent light bulb ban such a lightning rod for Tea Party-inspired remorse from big government Republicans? Simple: it's a liberty-stealing assault on our privacy and common sense, outrageously expensive, and doesn't solve any of the problems it's intended to fix. That's only for starters. The most egregious feature is that the ban makes fools of the American people who willingly succumb to such nonsense from Washington, D.C.

Congressman Fred Upton (R-MI), campaigning to advance his chances in ascending the chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, now says he'd open hearings to reconsider the phase-out of incandescent light bulbs.

His first witness should be Dennis Miller, who quipped on his radio show about dreaded CFLs, the most ballyhooed replacement for incandescents: "I don't care what my electric bill is. I haven't worked my entire life so that my living room can look like a Soviet Bloc stairwell during a James Bond fight scene." A good line for Miller to express humorously what most people are thinking.

And it would be a good move for Upton to seek some conservative creds, given the testosterone of by his rival Joe Barton (R-TX). Maneuvering to keep his top spot for the Republicans on Energy &Commerce, it was Barton, knowing how to push all of the red buttons, who in October introduced a bill to repeal the light bulb ban in its entirety.

Barton, vilified for sympathizing with BP during the Gulf oil spill fiasco and too much the smoke bomb launcher for the likes of the wine-and-brie cocktail circuit Republicans, knows that the silly light bulb ban is Exhibit A for government crotch-sniffing stupidity of the TSA airport screening variety. The nanny state runneth over, making light bulbs a ripe target for Tea Partiers.

Upton, a favorite with so-called bipartisan moderates showing too many sympathies with the global warming crowd, having been an outspoken friend of CFLs and an enthusiastic co-sponsor of the incandescent phase out in 2007, has been badly torched by right-sided true believers.

But Upton is no dummy He and the other Republicans-who-too-often-behave-like-Democrats now know that they are on probation, realizing that those who remain co-conspirators in government overreach will be driven into the political wilderness in 2012.

While late to the party, Upton finally figured out that the incandescent ban is the perfect symbol for the Tea Party victors on Nov. 2, showing how government busybodies and central planners have imposed another idiotic, costly, and unwarranted strip-mining of consumer choice. This time, it's justified by dubious energy savings while ignoring economic hardships to be borne by incandescent factory workers and fixed-income seniors. And shall I mention once again the environmental hazards of those dreaded CFL alternatives?

The ban's defenders still insist that it would reduce the need for up to thirty coal-fired electric power plants, according to Noah Horowitz, spokesman for the Natural Resources Defense Council in a recent letter to the Wall Street Journal. This might be true if household lighting were used during peak hours. But it's not. Household lighting is used primarily in the early morning and evening hours, when electric power demand is nearly at its lowest. While energy-efficient lighting may reduce homeowners' operating costs, falling kwh demand in off-peak hours will simply depress electric utility revenues, leaving power plant operations and costs unchanged, provoking the utilities to file for rate increases to keep their revenues even and profits whole. How's that for unintended consequences? Who will win the Nobel prize in economics for that?

How many coal fired power plants have been shut down due to energy efficiency demand reductions from CFLs that have already captured 25% of the incandescent market? Can you name one? How many proposed shutdowns due to additional energy efficiency from a billion more CFLs have been filed for PUC approvals? Can you name one? I didn't think so. Neither could Joe Barton, and now Fred Upton is scratching his head.

Should we wonder why electric utilities have been silent about the incandescent ban but now actually favor power-hogging electric vehicles? Electric utility operators aren't dopes, either.

Apart from the headache-inducing lousy color and slow warm-up and poor dimming options, CFLs are hand-held toxic mercury bombs -- and now a billion of them have infiltrated sockets all across the country. Would you rather have mercury trapped in power plant scrubbers or tossed in the household curbside trash barrels when the CFLs burn out -- usually long before the end of their advertised lifespans? Where are the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Environmental Defense Fund, and the Sierra Club when we really need them?

While LEDs don't share the same hazmat component as CFLs, who can afford these luxury candles anyhow? For brightness levels far less than a 60-watt incandescent, consumers are expected to pay not 29 cents, but 29 dollars for an LED light bulb. Whoa! For 30 million unemployed Americans and 75 million seniors on fixed incomes, this is just another economic kneecapping delivered by the geniuses inside the Beltway.

The light bulb ban, for all of its absurdities -- including the job creation and economic boon to China, where all of the incandescent replacements are produced -- is almost as witless as the low-flow flush toilet mandates. The last time I flew from the Upper Midwest to the East Coast, the Great Lakes still looked full. And while the rising sea levels and more abundant tropical rainstorms from global warming give us more water than a trillion flushes, tell me again the purpose of low flow-toilets that don't work. Maybe Upton can reopen hearings on why multiple flushes are more of a necessity than a courtesy.

Unlike members of Congress who may have passed the bar exam but flunked Econ 101 and forgot how to read, regular everyday Americans know that the light bulb ban doesn't pass the Everyman uncommon sense test.

Fred Upton has yet to prove he's undergoing a born-again religious conversion towards more limited government, restoring private property rights, and supporting free-market choices for the people. At least he's purporting to begin his own journey of redemption. That journey just might be accompanied by a revival in uncommon sense. If just another political pander, though, it will be lights out for Upton and the remaining unrepentant big-government Republicans.

Luminus Maximus is the pen name of a longtime lighting industry observer.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Washington Set To Control Your Light Switch

from Big Government:

Washington Set to Control Your Light Switchby Tim Slagle

Ever since this continent was electrificated, Americans have been allowed to plug anything they want into their own electrical outlet.

The history of electricity is a biography of modernism. Originally intended just to light homes, electric power was soon used to run sewing machines, fans, teakettles, and toasters. According to Dr. Rachel P. Maines the fifth electrical appliance to be invented, was a device to treat hysteria (which is used in more homes today, than sewing machines and electric teakettles). Shortly after hysteria was cured, electric irons and vacuum cleaners became feasible.

Following the big war, came an explosion of things you could stick into an outlet: hair driers, electric drills, popcorn poppers, and television sets Not to mention, those goofy things that have a big belt and motor and are supposed to help you lose weight by jiggling your belly.

Today a home built only a generation ago is woefully inadequate for the number of appliances that need to find a plug. Hence, there has been a great market in power-strips. In my home office, (built in 1959) I actually have one outlet branching off into four different power-strips to handle all the appliances required of my profession.

Before the modern epoch, what you decided to plug in the privacy of your own home was an accepted civil right. If you’re willing to pay the bill, power it up. I have an old RCA refrigerator in my basement that uses far more electricity than a sleek new Korean import but it looks so cool, I don’t mind making my electric meter spin like a circular saw every time I restock it with beer.

A friend of mine, was so enamored with some of the waterfalls of Las Vegas that he built one in his back yard. It was a masterpiece of boulders and whitewater cascading across the 30-foot slope of his lakefront home. He used three high-powered electrical pumps to keep water churning down the hill at a spectacular rate of 25,000 gallons per hour. It took him months to build, but only one electric bill, to realize that it wasn’t a 24/7 attraction, and should only be activated on special occasions. The free market encourages conservation.

When President Bush signed The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 we saw the first limits on which appliances we can use in our homes. (This bill is known by other names, such as the light bulb ban, or the 100 watt stockpiling act of 2012. It was spearheaded by GOP Rep. Fred Upton, who is this/close to assuming the Chairmanship of the Energy and Commerce Committee. That’s right, the GOP Rep who hates Thomas Edison is set to create energy policy for the whole country.) The law was necessary, because most Americans prefer incandescent bulbs. They are more aesthetically pleasing, and help heat your home in the winter. Most people believe the extra money spent is well worth the cost of electricity. After all, what is more economical than sitting in the dark?

The next step in Green won’t even require Congressional approval. The Department of Energy recently decided they have authority over appliances in your home. Energy Secretary Steven Chu recently issued five new energy efficiency standards for large appliances, and is reworking the policy to include ten new categories. According to Assistant Energy Secretary Cathy Zoi “…we have a mandate. Where we can actually just issue regulations and do market transformation.”

It is like we are moving backwards in time, seeing modern life outlawed one convenience at a time. Right now social engineers are busy working on “Smart Grid” technology. (The perennial question: if environmental choices are actually so intelligent, why do the marketers have to convince us, with names like “Smart Car,” and “Insight?”) The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 set aside $11 billion dollars to begin construction of that grid.

Smart Grid sounds harmless and modern, but it will be incredibly intrusive. Appliances in the future will have microchips installed; when you plug them in, they will handshake with the grid, and a central authority will determine whether that appliance deserves to get power or not. If a bureaucrat in Washington decides that it’s not hot enough for you to put on the air conditioner, your air conditioner will not work. If the Fed decides that Margaritas lead to too much trouble on Cinco de Mayo, all blenders can be disabled for the day.

They can also turn off radios, televisions and computers. In the era of electronic information, restricting the freedom of the press is as easy as turning off the light. The idea is to conserve power, but a Smart Government will be able to use the technology to retain power as well.

And as for my beautiful pink basement refrigerator, you can forget that. In fact every appliance that was built before the smart grid will eventually be forbidden power. Which means that once the “Smart” Grid is fully operational, everything in your house that requires a plug will probably need to be replaced –including your hysteria device (which will also leave a record the central office, every time it’s turned on).

There is no question that Air Conditioners in Washington DC will be functional year round, while those of us out in Red State American will deal with the limitations of windmills that are incapable of keeping the entire nation cool in the stagnant summer air.

Isn’t technology wonderful?

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Job_Killing Obama Regime Sets aside 187,000 Square Miles For Over-Populated Polar Bears

from Gateway Pundit and Right Network:

Job-Killer Obama Sets Aside 187,000 Miles For Overpopulated Polar Bears

Posted by Jim Hoft on Saturday, November 27, 2010, 7:29 PM

After democrats passed the junk science “pile of sh*t” Cap and Trade legislation in June 2009 a report was released, and suppressed, that showed that polar bear numbers, far from decreasing, were much higher than they were 30 years ago.

In fact, it’s about time for a cull.

Polar bear numbers in Canada have increased in 11 of 13 regions in recent years.

Polar bear encounters on the North Slope oil fields have risen to record levels the last two years.

There are 5 times as many polar bears today as there were 50 years ago:

But, since when did the Obama Administration let facts get in their way?

The Obama administration is setting aside 187,000 square miles in Alaska as a “critical habitat” for polar bears, an action that could restrict future drilling for oil and gas development.

The LA Times reported, via FOX Nation:

The Obama administration is setting aside 187,000 square miles in Alaska as a “critical habitat” for polar bears, an action that could restrict future offshore drilling for oil and gas. The total, which includes large areas of sea ice off the Alaska coast, is about 13,000 square miles, or 8.3 million acres, less than in a preliminary plan released last year.

Tom Strickland, assistant secretary for fish, wildlife and parks at the Interior Department, said the designation would help polar bears stave off extinction, recognizing that the greatest threat is the melting of Arctic sea ice caused by climate change.

“This critical habitat designation enables us to work with federal partners to ensure their actions within its boundaries do not harm polar bear populations,” Strickland said. “We will continue to work toward comprehensive strategies for the long-term survival of this iconic species.”

Designation of crucial habitat does not in itself block economic activity or other development, but requires federal officials to consider whether a proposed action would adversely affect the polar bear’s habitat and interfere with its recovery.

It’s decisions like this one that make Obama the worst jobs president since the Great Depression.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Environmental Economics

From Forbes.com:


Environmental Economics

Art Carden, 04.21.09, 01:45 PM EDT

Invoking private property and prices to regulate land use and recycling.

There is an Earth Day poster in the elevator down the hall from my office that says: "Someone Is Killing the Earth."

Underneath this caption, my friend and colleague Mike Hammock wrote, "It was Art Carden!"

This inspired me to think hard about the relationship between economics and the environment, and I wrote a short essay entitled "Economic Calculation in the Environmentalist Commonwealth."

That essay inspired the article you're now reading. I consider myself an "anthropocentric environmentalist," which is a fancy way of saying that I care about environmental issues because I care about human flourishing.

This doesn't come at the expense of economic reasoning, though, and economics leads us to surprising and often counterintuitive conclusions. Economics shows how appearances can be deceiving, and I find a lot of environmental initiatives are like rotten Granny Smith apples: They're green on the outside, but they're brown on the inside. Here's how and why.

Private property is essential to a well-functioning social system because it allows that system to generate prices. Prices provide the crucial information people need to make rational decisions, but prices do not mediate all environmental conflicts because some things are not owned. When resources are not owned and therefore outside the price system, the information we would need to evaluate the costs and benefits of different environmental initiatives literally does not exist.

I stress that it is not just that environmental issues are difficult or complex. The problem is that--given the absence of prices, profits and losses--we do not have the information we need to articulate what responsible environmental stewardship would mean, much less exercise it.

Endless debates about land use illustrate this principle. Development is opposed by people saying that we owe it to our children to conserve our precious natural resources, but University of Rochester economist Steven Landsburg asks the right question. Who are we to say that our children will prefer an old-growth forest to the income produced by a parking lot or high rise?

Without private property rights, the information we would need to make a judgment cannot exist. If it is more profitable to build a high rise, then we can reasonably infer that our children, on net, would prefer the income from a high rise. If virgin wilderness is more profitable, we can reasonably infer that our children would prefer the income from a forest.

Even if we're repulsed by this reasoning, who are we to substitute our judgment for that of our friends and neighbors? I borrow an insight from Sheldon Richman at the Foundation for Economic Education: If we don't think others can be trusted with liberty, on what basis do we expect them to trust us with power?

Land-use restrictions also have unintended consequences that have to be considered. Harvard economist Ed Glaeser cites California as an example. Restrictions on land use in California drive up the price of housing there, causing people to move to less energy-efficient places--Houston's suburbs, for example.

A great irony of land-use restrictions is that they encourage people to take land that is much more wisely used for housing and grow crops on it--and vice versa, inducing people to take land used to grow crops and build housing on it. Ironically, probably the "greenest" thing we could do is totally eliminate building restrictions.

We can also reevaluate what we think about recycling. If there's a problem, it's that something valuable exists but isn't owned or priced. A quick Google ( GOOG - news - people ) search turns up endless debates about the merits and demerits of recycling, and it is an argument that will never be resolved as long as it is outside the price system.

Where recycling is worthwhile, people earn profits doing it. Just because it is unprofitable now does not mean that it is not worthwhile, but the information we would need to evaluate recycling literally does not exist because the act of recycling is mediated by politics rather than prices.

The Energy Information Administration reports that using recycled aluminum uses 95% less energy than mining aluminum from raw bauxite. The fact that firms aren't falling over themselves to use recycled aluminum suggests that something in the accounting is incomplete. After all, what greedy capitalist wouldn't jump at the chance to save 95% on a key input? It may be that using recycled aluminum uses less energy but is more expensive on other margins.

We recycle because we assume we will run out of our finite resources if we don't--but the problem isn't that our planet isn't made up of a finite number of atoms. The problem is that a lot of those atoms are not owned by anyone. Therefore, we have no incentive to use them wisely. People have incentives to conserve that which is privately owned, and rising prices that result give people incentives to develop substitutes.

Just because it's been thrown away doesn't mean it is lost forever. Non-biodegradability can be a virtue: disposable plastics sequester carbon for centuries and may even someday provide a source of energy. My friend and co-blogger Michael Munger hypothesizes that, someday, people will be mining old landfills for petroleum products that can be turned into fuel. We aren't yet there technologically. But if you're looking for earth-friendly ways to use your time, finding ways to turn garbage into energy is probably more effective than badgering your friends about whether they are using too many napkins.

Private property rights also allow us to solve problems of environmental justice. To use another example, environmental amenities are capitalized into real estate prices. Harm can be identified--and blame can be assigned--when rights are clearly defined.

Finally, when measuring costs and benefits, we must always ask, "Compared to what?" It is true that smog is noxious, but it's a great improvement over the pulverized horse manure that filled city air just a few generations ago.

Economic analysis is indispensable to sensible environmental policy. It shows that a lot of what we think is "green" really isn't. We have the opportunity to better the world for ourselves, our friends and our neighbors by seriously considering what careful economic analysis can teach us about the importance of private property rights and prices.

Art Carden is an assistant professor of economics and business at Rhodes College in Memphis, Tenn., and an adjunct fellow with the Oakland, Calif.-based Independent Institute. He is a regular contributor to Mises.org, Lifehack.org and Division of Labour.

Economics, The Environment, And Environmysticism

From Mises.org:

Economics, the Environment, and Environmysticism

November 25, 2010 by Art Carden

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On this Thanksgiving, I am thankful for the prosperity we all enjoy. In a couple of my econ 100 classes on Tuesday, we spent a bit of time talking about how land-use restrictions affect both housing prices and the environment. An important point of departure between economics and an extreme form of ecocentric environmentalism that I have called “environmysticism” is that environmysticism holds preservation of nature as a moral end in itself while economics is the analysis of human action. Environmental policy is often made on the basis of fundamentally flawed economic analysis.

For example, in a contribution to Ayn Rand’s Return of the Primitive: the Anti-Industrial Revolution, Peter Schwartz discusses a debate over the fate of the yew tree in the Pacific Northwest. The tree had been found to produce a cancer-fighting element. If strict private property prevailed, the tree would have been farmed, harvested, and used to alleviate cancer patients’ suffering. However, as Schwartz records, some responded that the trees should be conserved out of fear that all the trees would be used up.

If private property rights are secure, this fear is unfounded. The discovery that the yew tree produces cancer-fighting elements would increase demand for yew trees. The prospect of profitable tree cultivation would provide a powerful incentive to cultivate yew trees (without any prodding from the National Institutes of Health, it should be added). The trees won’t be “used up;” if anything, yew tree populations would explode. “Protecting” the tree, however, provides a double-dose of trouble. It removes positive incentives to conserve or cultivate the tree and replaces them with fear of punishment, and it leaves unalleviated the pain and suffering of cancer patients the world over.

There is also an important principle here regarding intergenerational equity. Even if we grant that the conservationists wish to preserve the trees “for future generations,” we must assume that we mean they must be conserved for their aesthetic benefit to those generations (it cannot be for the services they convey, for as Schwartz notes the environmentalists have established that the trees are not to be violated for their own sake), then the policy constitutes a forced transfer from the sick to the healthy and from today’s poor to tomorrow’s rich.

Economic analysis comprises a very rich set of tools that we can use to analyze important environmental problems. If private property rights are secure, we can rest assured that the incentives inherent in the marketplace will ensure that valuable resources are not wasted. Prices and the prospects of profit and loss provide valuable information to innovators and entrepreneurs, but forsaking the price system turns economic decisions into political decisions. Unfortunately, this has a tendency to exacerbate precisely the problems it is supposed to solve.

For more, here is my Earth Day 2009 article, and here is an early version of my paper “Economic Calculation in the Environmentalist Commonwealth.” Here are links to audio of lectures on “Environmental and Resource Economics” given at Mises University by Timothy Terrell, George Reisman, Walter Block, and myself.

Happy Thanksgiving

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

First Health Care, Next The Food Supply

From The American Thinker:

November 17, 2010

First Health Care, Next the Food Supply

By Michael Geer

Just because the duck is lame doesn't mean it can't still do terrible damage to American freedom. Our new Congress, especially the new House, isn't yet seated, and this current Congress can still wreak terrible havoc on our rights if not stopped.

Case in point: Senate Bill 510, believed to be coming to the floor Wednesday, November 17 (pending). This is the food safety version of ObamaCare. Reading the thing will make your head hurt for all its cognitive dissonance. Trying to winnow out its complexity and hidden empowerments is stultifying.

Introduced by Dick Durbin of Illinois, the bill has moved through the usual phases of amalgamation and deal-making. The monstrosity advancing to the floor on Wednesday is not so much "food safety" as it is the decadence of the rights of small farmers, hobbyist food producers, garden-variety farmers markets, and your average small producer of foodstuffs. Under the rubric of safety, this Senate proposes a bill that establishes such new and sweeping powers over how you and I produce and consume foodstuffs that even the Pew Charitable Trusts * are calling S510 a clear and present danger. National Health Freedom says,

It is a dangerously broad regulatory bill giving extensive discretionary power to the FDA over the entire food supply chain without proper checks and balances to avoid abuse of power;

It would impose one-size-fits-all-regulations on thousands of small and mid-sized farmers, small-scale local farms and food producers, and would drastically burden, to extinction, basic natural and organic food suppliers, thus endangering the lives of Americans who depend on local wholesome foods;

It does not reflect a well-thought-out solution, or address the real causes of food safety issues stemming from the industrialized food supply chain; and

It attempts to limit the authority of our own domestic U.S. laws when it includes language ensuring that our US law will not disturb other international agreements that we have made. It states: "Nothing in this Act shall be construed in a manner inconsistent with the agreement establishing the World Trade Organization or any other treaty or international agreement to which the U.S. is a party."

Lee Bechtel of the National Health Federation, the nation's oldest health-freedom organization, says,

The concern for freedom and health freedom advocates with the legislation, and the NHF's concern, is not because it addresses existing conventional food safety system problems, tainted imported foods, peanut butter... et.al. but because of these non-conventional food safety attempts to expand FDA authority and impose more controls over the marketplace and the access to nutritional foods and supplements.

For example, Page 26 Manager's Amendment:

(d) SMALL ENTITY COMPLIANCE POLICY GUIDE.- Not later than 180 days after the issuance of the regulations promulgated under subsection (m) of section 418 of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (as added by subsection (a)), the Secretary shall issue a small entity compliance policy guide setting forth in plain language the requirements of such section 418 and this section to assist small entities in complying with the hazard analysis and other activities required under such section 418 and this Section.

Neither specified nor even alluded to is the empowering language of what "assist" or "hazard analysis" or "small entities" may mean. In federal empowerment legislation, this means whatever they want it to. Lee Bechtel goes on to write,

There is no legislative language that gives any clarity or defines what a "small entity" is. Instead, leaving it up to the FDA to decide the application of the law. The Senate bill unlike the House version does not include specific exemption language for small farmers, small organic farms, etc. In fact, Senator Testor has an amendment to address this matter, if the Democratic Senate leadership allows it to be offered.

Further, how about this for a TSA-brand of intrusion into your affairs? Pg. 3 of the Manager's Amendments to S510 -

(2) USE OF OR EXPOSURE TO FOODS OF CONCERN.-If the Secretary believes that there is a reasonable probability that the use of or exposure to an article of food, and any article of a food, that the Secretary reasonably believes is likely to be affected in a similar manner, will cause serious adverse health consequences or death to humans or animals, each person (excluding farms and restaurants) who manufactures, processes, packs, distributes, receives, holds, or imports such article can be acted upon by the FDA.

That would be you and me, if we're hobby farmers at the local farmer's market.

Dr. Silva Chandra says,

If accepted [S 510] would preclude the public's right to grow, own, trade, transport, share, feed and eat each and every food that nature makes. It will become the most offensive authority against the cultivation, trade and consumption of food and agricultural products of one's choice. It will be unconstitutional and contrary to natural law or, if you like, the will of God.

What are Republican thinking? Seven out of twelve co-sponsors are Republicans.

SB 510 - The Food Safety Modernization Act of 2010

Sen. Richard Durbin [D-IL]


Lamar Alexander [R-TN]

Jeff Bingaman [D-NM]

Richard Burr [R-NC]

Roland Burris [D-IL]

Saxby Chambliss [R-GA]

Christopher Dodd [D-CT]

Michael Enzi [R-WY]

Kirsten Gillibrand [D-NY]

Judd Gregg [R-NH]

Thomas Harkin [D-IA]

Orrin Hatch [R-UT]

John Isakson [R-GA]

You know by now that the real dangers of federal legislation are hidden in a root-cluster of treaties, acts, bills, agreements, resolutions, and other governmental legerdemain that disguises the facts. Like with a metastasizing cancer, you have to run down all the tentacles that get back-doored and de-facto empowered rather than focusing just on the prima facia. Or, as Dr. Daniel Geer, Sc.D. says, Complexity is the enemy of security.

S510 puts all U.S. food production under the control of the Department of Homeland Security. And the Department of Defense. We lose not only private-citizen control of our food supply, but sovereignty as well. The bill sets in motion standardization of the food animal supply chain, focusing on eliminating biodiversity in food animal genetic stocks. It further mandates that the federal government control and empower hormonal, genetic, and antibiotic additions to our food supply while postponing most definitions of what will constitute "food crimes" under the bill's sweeping and generalized powers.

Remember Nancy Pelosi's infamous "we'll know after we pass it"?

You may be disposed to embrace a genetically modified, enhanced, and altered food chain, but for those of us who eat our foods unadulterated, raised naturally, and without benefit of the federal government mandating what we can and can't eat, S510 is one more giant step toward consolidating total power over the lives of free citizens. It is standardization on a scale never seen. Remember Ireland and its potato famine. That's what standardization accomplishes. One bug killed an entire economy.

This bill constitutes some of the worst of the worst of corporatist policies favored by the political class controlling our federal government. Conservatives must rebel at any sign of government intrusion into our private affairs, and criminalizing private food production is as wrong as it gets. S510 does just that, if reading between the lines of its muddy language suggests where the lame duck Pelosi-Reid Congress is headed. If implemented, S510 can define as a crime to clean, store, and own seeds or seed stocks unless granted that right by the federal government. Think you'll be granted that "right" when arguing against Monsanto's lawyers?

There's plenty of inflammatory news, blog entries, and postings on the internet regarding S510, and you'll find most of it from sources you'll consider Birkenstock-wearing greenies. So what? Read the bill. Follow the trail of what this bill embraces through the WTO, ending the 1994 Uruguay Agreements. Follow the failed Clinton money through Burson Marsteller (the giant public relations firm) and on through the empowerment of vague definitions within. And if you can read far enough on the faint trails of treaties, past legislations and acts, you'll realize that the federal government, under successive attempts by the corporatist Left, is grabbing not just your health care, but your food supply.

Its House companion Bill, HR 2749, empowers federal bureaucracies to totally prohibit the movement of any and all foods into or out of a given area (Section 133b, "Authority to Prohibit or Restrict the Movement of Food," sponsored by Congressman Dingell). Sure, sure, the idea may be to prevent the spread of dangerous foods, but once the camel's nose is under the tent, you know what can happen.

In other words, what are Republicans doing, signing on to legislation so grievous to the rights of the citizens they are sworn to protect?


Erik Olsen of the Pew Health Group informs us that Pew strongly supports S.510. The linked blog post is a video of comments by Sandra Eskin, director of Pew's Food Safety Campaign, who speaks in support of the measure. The characterization of Pew's stance on S.510 is incorrect and American Thinker regrets the error.

The author invites email comments at geer.michael@gmail.com. He is a hobbyist farmer, rancher, and patriot.

Brother, Can You Spare A Waiver?

From The American Thinker:

November 17, 2010

Brother, Can You Spare a Waiver?

By William Sullivan

In an unprecedented turn of events, massive corporate interests and various unions have been selectively granted a waiver for the "annual limit requirements" of ObamaCare. These are requirements in the health care bill that company-sponsored health care plans have high minimum thresholds for spending on "essential health benefits."

Why did these companies need this exemption? The Department of Health and Human Services sums it up like this in a disclaimer:

Applications for waivers from annual limit requirements are reviewed on a case by case basis by Department officials who look at a series of factors including whether or not a premium increase is large or if a significant number of enrollees would lose access to their current plan because the coverage would not be offered in the absence of a waiver.

Two unpleasant implications should stand out when Americans read this statement: large premium increases and enrollees losing access to their current plans. One year ago, while Obama and Congress were out there pitching, these two outcomes were presented as outside the realm of possibility with this legislation.

Losing access to our employer-sponsored plans? We were assured that that was just a conservative scare tactic -- you could always keep your company plan if you want. And increased premiums? We were assured that such talk was just more fear-mongering from the right -- if Americans were smart enough to understand the bill, they'd know it would decrease the cost of health care and thereby decrease premiums, not increase them.

But the reality is that this "annual limit requirement" alone would guarantee that a premium increase or dropped coverage would be a likely outcome for Americans who enjoy company health benefits.

Many Americans have what are called "mini-med" plans. These provide highly affordable health coverage, and their affordability is tied to the fact that there is usually a cap on annual benefits. But these plans with lower caps are outlawed by the new health care legislation, and by 2014, no caps will be allowed on company health care plans whatsoever. So going forward, companies must make the choice to offer these employees a health care plan with a higher cap (a minimum of $750K this year, a far cry from the many affordable plans with caps of $10K), or they must drop the health care coverage for their enrollees in these plans. If they opt for the former, it will translate to a more expensive policy, which will in turn translate to higher premiums for participants as the cheaper policies can no longer be offered by law. If they opt for the latter, enrollees will lose their health benefits altogether.

That's not a very good deal for Americans or American business, so the waivers sound like a good idea. But it seems you have to be in a pretty exclusive club to get one, which has caused a heightened scrutiny for these waivers. Consider that these 111 companies and unions that have received them are all influential entities with considerable financial or political clout.

So Robert Gibbs had to defend the distribution of waivers for these companies in a recent press conference. "The waivers are about ensuring and protecting the coverage that people have until there are better options available to them in 2014." He speaks on behalf of the administration, assuring us that they are allowing these waivers to protect Americans. Not surprisingly, he fails to address the fact that this administration's flagship legislation is the very reason we need this protection in the first place.

But the Health and Human Services disclaimer reveals more than Gibbs and the administration probably would have liked. According to the disclaimer, we can assume that if a premium increase is not too "large," or the result is that a less "significant number" of enrollees lose their benefits, the government will not grant the waiver. This is absolute proof that ObamaCare is very capable of driving up premium cost and resulting in dropped coverage, and that government officials are subjectively deciding who can be exempt from the law. So even though ObamaCare was proposed as a means to lower premiums and give Americans more options, the reality is that the fear-mongering conservatives were right about a few things. Premiums can rise, and options can be taken away, leaving a government waiver or the "better options" of ObamaCare as the only alternatives.

Considering the faulty promises of this administration and the spot-on predictions of its opposition, I shudder in anticipation of the revelation we may find about the macabre "death panels" that have been panned as a right-wing myth.

It seems that all the right people are getting waivers to opt out of ObamaCare: the right unions, the right companies, and all the right people in Congress. In fact, Congress went to great lengths to legislate exemptions from Obamacare before even passing the bill, completely waiving their own need to ever adhere to it! That fact alone should speak volumes about ObamaCare's merits. If it is good for Americans and good for American business as they claimed, why is it not good enough for the people who designed it and rammed it into law in spite of popular opinion?

It is painfully apparent that ObamaCare is not good for Americans and that it was grossly misrepresented prior to passage. So please, Mr. Obama, while it seems we might have caught your administration in the mood to grant certain favors, may we humble millions who don't want this law to affect us and our families please have our waivers, too?

William Sullivan blogs at politcalpalaverblog@blogspot.com.

ClimateGate: One Year And 60+ House Seats Later

From The American Thinker:

November 17, 2010

Climategate: One Year and Sixty House Seats Later

By Marc Sheppard

It’s been one year to the day since hero or heroes still unnamed and unrewarded bestowed upon the world a virtual dossier, the contents of which should have ended the anthropogenic global warming (AGW) debate abruptly and evermore. Remarkably, it didn’t. Despite the revelations exposed in the now public climate huckster’s handbook, one year later the specter of governance and wealth redistribution both national and international based largely, if not solely, on pseudo-scientific hocus-pocus persists.

By all measures, last year’s U.N. climate summit in Copenhagen was an embarrassing flop for those who again tried to sell an international progressive fund reallocation scheme as the “last chance to save the planet” from runaway climate change. But with Cancun’s “last chance to save the planet” climate talks just around the corner, the media is working overtime to explain away previous failures as anything other than the product of bad policy toward unproven hazards that they indeed were.

On Monday, The Washington Post ran a piece about an Oxford University's Reuters Institute study on who attended and how countries covered last year’s U.N. summit. But the paper’s emphasis was somewhat different and clearly divulged in its headline -- Coverage of climate summit called short on science. Yet what truly boggles the mind is their assessment of that which we celebrate today:

Much coverage from Copenhagen instead focused on hacked e-mails from a British university that some skeptics took as evidence of efforts by scientists to ignore dissenting views. The scientists involved have since been cleared of wrongdoing.

Ignore dissenting views? How about conspiring to block – not ignore -- the publication of rival scientific evidence? Or the Nixonian plots the communiqu├ęs disclosed, including conspirators discussing deleting emails and other documents in order to prevent disclosure of information subject to Freedom of Information Laws? Or how access might be prevented to data, source code, and algorithms in an attempt to prevent external evaluation of their conclusions?

Not to mention their arrogant mockery of the peer review process atop a widespread complicity in and acceptance of hiding, manipulating, inventing and otherwise misrepresenting data in a clear effort to exaggerate the existence, causation, precedence and threat of global warming. What’s more, the fact that many of the conspirators were editors, lead authors, and contributors to the U.N’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and World Meteorological Organization (WMO) reports on which international climate policy is made put all such reports and policies to question.

Indeed, the documents, source-code, data and e-mails contained in the folder purportedly "hacked" from Britain's University of East Anglia (UEA) Climate Research Unit (CRU) and first uploaded to a Russian FTP server in the wee hours of November 17, 2009 -- and announced that evening as a comment at Air Vent -- revealed a widespread pattern of scientific misconduct amongst the very climate researchers on whose “science” the entire AGW theory and all consequent policy is based.

With trillions of dollars at stake, Climategate, as it was dubbed days later, was and is about potentially astronomical criminal wrongdoing, not petty school-yard rivalries.

And as to those involved being “cleared of wrongdoing,” let’s consider both the tribunals and their actual pronouncements.

On With the Showcase Investigations

Last November was not a good month for climate alarmists, particularly the two primary Climategate conspirators, CRU chief Phil “Hide the Decline” Jones and Mike “Nature Trick” Mann.

As the new-media-led understanding of the Climategate folder’s incriminating contents took wider purchase, with it did the cries for formal investigations, as the evidence of climate fraud appeared both devastating and incontrovertible. On December 1st, against the backdrop of business pending in Copenhagen, the U.K. House of Commons Science and Technology Committee sent a letter of intent and preliminary questionnaire to the UEA. The university’s response that it had commissioned its own “independent inquiry” under the auspices of Sir Muir Russell failed to dissuade the Committee’s decision to proceed with its own inquiry.

As the Russell investigation was to focus primarily on policy, the UEA later asked Ronald (Lord) Oxburgh to lead another “independent” team to investigate the scientific methodology of CRU. As if by design, that action allowed many facets of each investigation to be ignored by one while fingers bore down on the other. The Russell report stated that although they didn’t actually examine the science -- such would be Oxburgh’s job -- the science was nonetheless correct. Meanwhile, Lord Oxburgh specifically stated that his inquiry, although named the Science Appraisal Panel, did not look at the science. Oh, and CRU’s was just fine.

By August’s end, the final reports were in from all three “formal” investigations into CRU: The House of Commons Science and Technology Committee [PDF], The Oxburgh Science Appraisal Panel [PDF] and the Independent Climate Change Emails Review under Sir Muir Russell [PDF].

All three examinations took place within the country of physical jurisdiction, Great Britain, and none disappointed those of us anticipating whitewash. Simply stated, all parties were cleared of all wrongdoing other than perhaps sloppy journaling and sophomoric note-passing and all suspensions were lifted. As Andrew Montford summarized in his report, The Climategate Inquiries:

[T] here can be little doubt that none of [the inquiries] have performed their work in a way that is likely to restore confidence in the work of CRU. None has managed to be objective and comprehensive. None has shown a serious concern for the truth. The best of them – the House of Commons inquiry – was cursory and appeared to exonerate the scientists with little evidence to justify such a conclusion. The Oxburgh and Russell inquiries were worse.

But an investigation was also undertaken by a Pennsylvania State University Inquiry Committee into the specific actions of the institution’s employee -- Dr. Michael Mann. Based in the U.S., the Penn State inquiry offered perhaps the best hope of impartiality. After all, not only was a faculty member implicated at the deepest levels of the misconduct (See Understanding Climategate's Hidden Decline), but also in the attempt to destroy evidence.

Unfortunately, it was Mann’s fellow Penn professors tasked with investigating him.

According to the official report [PDF], following an interview with Mann during which he simply denied all particulars of misconduct against him, Inquiry Committee member Dr. Henry C. Foley “conveyed via email an additional request of Dr. Mann, who was asked to produce all emails related to the fourth IPCC report (AR4), the same emails that Dr. Phil Jones had suggested that he delete.”

So rather than demand a date-stamped e-mail dump from the University’s IT sector (the emails likely reside on their primary server or in some backup format and remain, in fact, the university’s property), the panel requested that the subject of their investigation make the decision which emails were relevant to their investigation. And three days later, he “provided a zip-archive of these emails and an explanation of their content.”

In other words -- Michael Mann was allowed to cherry-pick not only data, but also the emails to be presented as evidence that he did so. Crazier still -- one of the charges Mann faced was that he had deleted incriminating emails.

Given the hilarity of its methods, scant shock was elicited by the Investigatory Committee’s unanimous determination that “Dr. Michael E. Mann did not engage in, nor did he participate in, directly or indirectly, any actions that seriously deviated from accepted practices within the academic community for proposing, conducting, or reporting research, or other scholarly activities.”

Mann wasted no time declaring himself “exonerated” and the MSM proved equally efficient in its blathering concurrence.

WaPo Leads the MSM Charge to Support Suppression

There’s little question that the initial silence and ultimate dismissal of the MSM was and remains a factor in Climategate’s surprisingly marginal effect on left-leaning policymakers. But the impacts, both societal and financial, of proposed policies shaped by the misinformation in question are nothing short of astounding. As such, it was the absence of any authoritative investigation, particularly here in the U.S, over the past 12 months which likely provided the greatest cover of all to alarmists both home and abroad.

As Ross McKitrick stated in Understanding the Climategate Inquiries [PDF]:

The world still awaits a proper inquiry into climategate: one that is not stacked with global warming advocates, and one that is prepared to cross-examine evidence, interview critics as well as supporters of the CRU and other IPCC players, and follow the evidence where it clearly leads.

Perchance the gallant efforts of one man and the removal from Congress of 60 others will provide just that -- and more.

Mann served as assistant professor of environmental sciences at University of Virginia from 1995 to 2005. Back in May, Virginia’s Attorney-General Ken Cuccinelli launched an exhaustive campaign to uncover the truth by filing a "civil investigative demand" for documents. These included five grant applications Mann prepared and any checks, purchase orders or other documents related to the pursuit of or disbursements from grant funds Mann received. Cuccinelli alleges that Mann defrauded taxpayers by obtaining grants from the commonwealth to conduct fraudulent research on global temperatures. To prove it, he has also demanded Mann’s emails, correspondence, or messages to or from a list of some 39 fellow scientists and academics, as well as any computer source code or algorithms created or edited by Mann. All of which will likely reveal so much more.

Not surprisingly, WaPo, which first reported Climategate with the headline Hackers steal electronic data from top climate research center, has been running interference for UVA right from the jump. The paper described “Cuccinelli's faulty investigation of Michael Mann,” which they insisted the university should fight, as an “ongoing campaign to wish away human-induced climate change.”

And when Cuccinelli lost the first round in August by a judge’s ruling that “it’s not clear what [Mann] did was misleading, false or fraudulent in obtaining funds from the Commonwealth of Virginia,” WaPo was downright giddy. Until, that is, the bell rang for round two and the DA came out swinging a reissued civil subpoena, this time limiting his inquiry to just one specific $214,700 state-funded only grant (the judge dismissed the other four as partially federally funded) that Mann received from the university. Cuccinelli’s confidence that his newly focused approach will ultimately prevail did not please his detractors.

In an October 6th article amateurishly headlined Ken Cuccinelli seems determined to embarrass Virginia, WaPo actually accused the investigator of the transgressions of the investigated:

The attorney general's logic is so tenuous as to leave only one plausible explanation: that he is on a fishing expedition designed to intimidate and suppress honest research and the free exchange of ideas upon which science and academia both depend -- all because he does not like what science says about climate change.”

Talk about displacement. In the real world, it was Mann who suppressed “honest research and the free exchange of ideas” and manipulated data “because he does not like what science says about climate change.” And while UVA’s slippery slope argument of "academic freedom" is not entirely without merit, it’s not only light when weighed against the erroneous rewiring of an already flailing international economy (not to mention academic and scientific integrity) -- but also duplicitous.

As Dr. Fred Singer wrote in his Sunday AT Piece:

The University of Virginia is fighting the demand for the data using outside lawyers and claiming "academic freedom" among other such excuses. I cannot comment on the legal implications of the AG's investigation. It should be noted, however, that UVA was quite willing to deliver up the e-mails of Professor Pat Michaels when Greenpeace asked for them in December 2009. It makes the UVA protestations sound rather hypocritical.

Singer has been convinced from the get-go that Mann deleted crucial emails, and wrote in July that they’d likely be found amongst those still housed at UVA, adding that “Cuccinelli’s demand for those emails might put a new light on the whole Climategate affair.” In his ICCC-4 presentation in June, Dr. Singer proffered that all post-1979 “warming” is phony and that divulging the “hidden” 1979-1997 proxy data will likely prove it.

So WaPo took double aim on Monday when its screed decrying a WSJ video decrying the American Geophysical Union’s omission of skeptics in its program to link reporters with scientists during the Cancun conference also targeted Singer. Referring to the renowned atmospheric physicist as “aging” (“but very gracefully, I should note,” Singer wrote with typical grace and good nature in an email), WaPo had the unmitigated gall to claim that “very few climate scientists would describe him as ‘renowned’ for his climate research.”

Imagine -- the same news organization said to define investigative journalism in the ‘70’s now championing deceitful defamation and nondisclosure.

Nevertheless, should justice trump ideology, the court will deny the October 21st UVA filings asking that Cuccinelli’s 2nd subpoena also be set aside, and the truth the alarmists have fought so hard to suppress will finally be heard. In any event, the battle is far from over.

Climate Realists Regain Committee Gavels

Republicans’ Election Day landslide handed them control of the House by a colossal 239 to 186 margin. And, according to and much to the vexation of the George Soros-funded alarmism machine Think Progress, more than half of the 100-plus GOP freshmen “deny the existence of man-made climate change.” Better still, a full 86% “are opposed to any climate change legislation that increases government costs.”

The consequence of the public’s ballot-box repudiation of liberal wealth redistribution policies on future ”climate” legislation was not lost on Think Progress’s Joe Romm. Days after the election, the uber-alarmist wrote a scathing rebuke of Barack Obama’s “failed presidency,” accusing him of “poisoning the well,” explaining that:

Obama hasn't merely failed to get a climate bill. Given the self-described (and self-inflicted) "shellacking" the president received Tuesday, he has made it all but impossible for a return to such an alignment of the stars this decade.

Indeed. Not only will alarmist shill Henry A. Waxman (D-Calif.) soon surrender the House Energy and Commerce Committee gavel, but over two dozen fellow Democrats who voted for the cap-and-tax bill Waxman co-sponsored were given the boot by enlightened voters who simply aren’t buying the snake oil climate alarmists are selling.

A recent PEW Poll found that while 59% of Americans “believe that the earth is getting warmer,” only 34% attribute that warming “mostly to human activity such as burning fossil fuels.” That’s down from 50% in a similar July 2006 poll. Undoubtedly, that rapidly dwindling number of reality deniers will have an impact both immediate and long term, as surviving House and Senate Democrats absorb its corollary on their fallen cohorts.

What’s more, short the obstructive tactics of the befallen eco-socialist ruling class, the colossal climate fraud uncovered over the past year both here and abroad will finally be scrutinized by the government of the country most affected by it. And not by those wishing to white-wash it, as has been the case elsewhere.

Last year, Oversight and Government Reform Committee ranking member Rep. Darrell Issa condemned that it would be the U.N. and not the U.S. investigating the fraud uncovered in the Climategate matter:

“The very integrity of the report [IPCC AR4] that the Obama administration has predicated much of its climate change policy has been called into question and it is unconscionable that this administration and Congress is willing to abdicate responsibility of uncovering the truth to the United Nations.”

The California Republican will likely be chairing that oversight panel come January, and though he told reporters Monday that much of the investigation will rightfully fall to the Science and Technology Committee, Issa has promised to include the "politicization of science" that led to the corrupt findings released by the IPCC in his 2011 schedule. And he’ll have wind of public opinion at his back, as an on-line Scientific American survey just found that 83.7% of Americans believe the IPCC is “a corrupt organization, prone to groupthink, with a political agenda.”

And Issa’s not alone in seeking true (not Marxist) climate justice. Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI), a likely choice to replace Waxman at Energy and Commerce, has stated that “no real science” exists to support climate policy and has also called for Climategate hearings.

And the investigations won’t likely stop there.

Climategate: The Truth Will Out

Climategate’s initial revelations of corruption at Britain’s CRU (details here, here, here, and here) proved to be just the beginning. In the months that followed, allegations of similar misconduct among alarm-leaning climate scientists throughout the globe arose almost daily. And their affiliations were as momentous as those of Jones, Mann, and Briffa, et al, including the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) (See Climategate: CRU Was But the Tip of the Iceberg), and ultimately, the IPCC (See IPCC: International Pack of Climate Crooks) itself.

Hopefully, bona fide investigations will follow a similar course, with CRU first on the docket, followed closely by NOAA, GISS and ultimately, the IPCC itself. An InterAcademy Council’s Review of the IPCC found that the panel “needs to fundamentally reform its management structure and strengthen its [existing] procedures,” and to call that a gross understatement would be grossly understated.

Last week, Bracken Hendricks wrote an article for WaPo (I, too, am shocked) claiming that:

The best science available suggests that without taking action to fundamentally change how we produce and use energy, we could see temperatures rise 9 to 11 degrees Fahrenheit over much of the United States by 2090.

What’s most distressing about this statement isn’t the fact that to meet that projection, we’d need to warm every decade for the next 8 by about the about same amount the IPCC claims we warmed in all of the previous century. Nor that we’d need to start warming fast and soon, as the planet is currently in a cooling phase predicted to last for decades.

It’s that Bracken Hendricks was a key architect of the clean-energy portions of Obama’s failed Stimulus Bill and an advisor to Obama’s campaign and transition team. He and the similar likes of Energy Czar Carol Browner, a former member of a socialist group's Commission for a Sustainable World Society, which calls for "global governance," and Energy Secretary Steven Chu, who believes that CO2 caused Hurricane Katrina, and director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy John “Ice Free Winter” Holdren, each have Obama’s ear. So does EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, who has already put the wheels of carbon regulation in motion and must be stopped (Congress must overturn EPA’s Endangerment Rule) if the economy is ever to be saved.

Now consider the U.N. plan to levy a climate reparations tax on the developed world (read that United States) on everything from airline flights and international shipping to fuel and financial transactions to the tune of $100 billion annually. That scheme is backed by both Obama advisor Lawrence Summers and radical anti-American billionaire George Soros as a means to meet the annual figure “international leaders” agreed to in Copenhagen and will be a primary goal at Cancun in a few weeks.

Will the 112th Congress have the votes to block all such junk-science-based policy? It will.

But of greater magnitude will be its power to assure more durable protection by exposing the whole truth about “climate change.” As we’ve learned in the one year and sixty House seats since we first unzipped FOI2009 -- only full and fully transparent investigations into all of the agencies supplying such “truth” will provide the citizenry the clarity it deserves.

And, it seems, Climategate the commemorative status it deserves.

The Left And Energy Policy

From The American Thinker:

November 18, 2010

The Left and Energy Policy

By Jeffrey Folks

There are several factors that contribute to a nation's future prosperity. One of the most important is an efficient and dependable supply of energy. A modern economy cannot function without adequate energy sources to power its electrical grid, supply its industries, heat its offices and homes, and fuel its transportation needs.

These facts are self-apparent, even to the left, so why is the left attempting to hamstring every promising new source of energy available to America? I can think of only one reason: because the left, as its main objective, wishes to bring America to its knees. From the left's point of view, America is an imperialist nation that for too long has had its way in the world. Thus, for the left, the only moral position is to undermine American power and wealth. In the environmental movement as it exists today, the left has found the perfect vehicle for its assault on American power.

As servants of the left, President Obama and the Democrat Congress have put our nation's energy supply at risk. Whether it is oil and gas exploration, coal mining, or nuclear energy, the left has created legislative and regulatory obstacles to new production. Meanwhile, tens of billions of dollars in grants and subsidies are showered on unproductive alternative energy projects.

To no one's surprise, the commission appointed by the president to investigate the Gulf oil spill has come back with a finding of "systematic" safety problems. Comprising a handful of liberal academics and environmental activists, the Gulf drilling commission has uncovered just what it wished to uncover: a pretext to restrict energy exploration not just within the Gulf, but everywhere in America. Were it not for the election of a GOP majority in the House, it is likely that highly restrictive legislation would have followed the commission's findings.

As it is, the administration is using the permitting process under the direction of Michael Bromwich, the former Justice Department lawyer named to head the Minerals Management Service, to curtail new drilling. The ruinously slow pace of permit approvals is creating widespread unemployment as it delays drilling and causes drilling rigs to relocate from the Gulf to as far away as Africa and South America. With only six new wells approved at last count, it is as if Obama had never lifted the offshore ban.

It is not just oil, natural gas, and coal development that the left wishes to forestall. Remarkably, at a moment when nearly every analyst agrees that nuclear energy needs to contribute more to the national energy mix, there are practically no new nuclear power projects underway. The U.S. currently lags behind India, Taiwan, and Bulgaria (yes, Bulgaria!) in new projects. China currently has eighteen times the nuclear capacity under development as does the U.S. Again, the strategy of the environmental left is to litigate, regulate, and delay to the point where investors simply give up.

What the left really seeks is not more alternative energy, but less energy, less development, and less influence for America. The U.S. has the capacity to be energy-self-sufficient, and with self-sufficiency would come economic and political renewal. But it is just that sort of economic nationalism that the left most strongly opposes.

Our nation has the capacity to become an exporter of liquefied natural gas (LNG), but, predictably, the Obama administration has dragged its feet on licensing. A project underway would ship LNG from a terminal at Sabine Pass, Louisiana, to China, thus creating profits for American companies, jobs for American workers, and tax revenues for states like Arkansas, Louisiana, Texas, and Oklahoma. The only problem is that the project is still awaiting a permit from the Obama administration to export the gas.

Why is the government throwing money at switchgrass and miscanthus biofuel programs instead of supporting natural gas -- a fuel source that can actually create hundreds of thousands of jobs and go a long way toward balancing the nation's trade deficit? Switchgrass and miscanthus have not yet been shown to be viable on a commercial scale, particularly in the absence of subsidies or mandates. The same goes for the government's bright idea of turning chicken fat into diesel fuel (which currently receives tax credits of $1 a gallon) or, for that matter, for corn ethanol, with its 45-cent-per-gallon subsidy. Government cannot continue forever subsidizing alternative energy sources that are inherently uncompetitive. To do so will weaken the competitiveness of our entire economy.

Natural gas, clearly, is one energy resource that America possesses in abundance and that is reliable and efficient. At recent prices, natural gas is among the cheapest forms of fuel, capable of producing one megawatt-hour of electricity for less than $100 -- half the price of solar. Unfortunately, the administration's main interest in natural gas to date has been efforts to regulate and tax the industry. The EPA has lost no time in investigating the new drilling procedure known as hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking." The agency has demanded tens of thousands of pages of documents from Halliburton and other drillers. It has searched far and wide (so far without success) for evidence of groundwater contamination resulting from fracking. And now, in an apparent last-ditch effort to restrict America's most promising new source of energy, Obama's EPA has opened an investigation into whether hydraulic fracturing may consume too much water.

The water-usage ploy is a familiar EPA tactic. It has been used repeatedly to restrict industry and development which, so it judges, might harm obscure species such as the snail darter. But now the EPA advances a far more radical position: namely, that it, a federal agency under the direction of a single unelected administrator, has the right to decide on a national scale how all natural resources are to be developed.

The agency's presumption is astounding. Having already decided, regardless of the science, that it has the right to regulate CO2, the EPA believes that it now has the authority to shut down fracking in one or all regions of the country on the pretext of unwarranted water usage -- with "unwarranted" defined as the agency deems fit. Given the continuing restrictions on offshore drilling, the EPA's ban on mountaintop mining, and environmental obstacles placed in the way of nuclear plants, including the administration's backing away from the Yucca Mountain waste storage area, what else is left in the way of energy resources?

Even if the left's actions are reversed following 2012 with the election of a Republican president and Senate, America will be years behind its global competition for new energy. Once China, India, and Brazil have secured rights to the world's energy resources, these resources will be off-limits to American companies. It is as if Obama were sitting in the White House thinking night and day about how to destroy America's energy industry while forcing Americans everywhere to pay more for fuel. That may seem unlikely to some readers, but for a president whose closest supporters believe that gas prices of $10 a gallon would not be a bad thing, it sounds about right to me.

Overcriminalized.com Legislative Update

From Overcriminalized.com:

Table of Contents


S. 3941: Combating Military Counterfeits Act of 2010

S. 3962: Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act of 2010

S. 3963: Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act of 2010

S. Amendment 4695:


S. 2859: Coral Reef Conservation Amendments Act of 2009


S. 3941: Combating Military Counterfeits Act of 2010

Sponsor: Whitehouse (D - RI)

Official Title: A bill to prohibit trafficking in counterfeit military goods or services.


11/15/2010: Introduced in Senate

11/15/2010: Referred to Senate Judiciary Committee

Commentary: This bill seeks to increase the criminal penalties under Title 18 U.S.C. § 2320 for individuals or entities who traffic in counterfeit military goods or services. Under existing law, individuals convicted under § 2320 are subject to up to 10 years imprisonment and fines of up to $2,000,000 for a first offense, and up to 20 years imprisonment and fines of up to $5,000,000 for each subsequent offense. Under existing law, entities are subject to fines of up to $5,000,000 and $15,000,000, respectively, for initial and subsequent § 2320 violations. S. 3941 would significantly raise these penalties for both persons and non-persons. S. 3941 would punish initial individual violations of § 2320 with up to 20 years imprisonment and fines of up to $5,000,000. Fines for initial entity violations would be raised from a $5,000,000 to a $15,000,000 maximum under the bill. S. 3941 would punish subsequent individual violations of § 2320 with up to 30 years imprisonment and fines of up to $15,000,000. Fines for subsequent entity violations would be raised from a $15,000,000 to a $30,000,000 maximum under the bill. S. 3941 also asks the U.S. Sentencing Commission to review and amend the Federal sentencing guidelines and policy statements applicable to persons convicted under § 2320 to "reflect the intent of Congress that penalties for such offenses be increased."

S. 3962: Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act of 2010

Sponsor: Durbin (D - IL)

Official Title: A bill to authorize the cancellation of removal and adjustment of status of certain alien students who are long-term United States residents and who entered the United States as children and for other purposes.


11/17/2010: Introduced in Senate

11/18/2010: Placed on Senate calendar

Commentary: This bill is a modified version of the DREAM Act, S. 729, which would grant legal status to some illegal aliens who attend college in the United States or serve in a branch of the U.S. armed forces. This version of the Act would grant its benefits to persons who are under 35 years of age at the time of legislative passage. Unlike S. 729, however, S. 3962 contains no language that would restore the ability of illegal aliens to receive in-state tuition benefits. This iteration of the Act makes no changes to the criminal penalties for false statements announced in S. 729. The bill imparts criminal penalties on anyone who files an application for relief under the Act who "willfully or knowingly falsifies, misrepresents, or conceals a material fact or makes any false or fraudulent statement or representation" in conjunction with their application. Violations of this provision are punishable by up to 5 years imprisonment, fines in accordance with Title 18 of the U.S. Code, or both. This new criminal offense would be duplicative of, and uses substantially similar language to, the general federal "false statements" statute (18 U.S.C. § 1001).

S. 3963: Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act of 2010

Sponsor: Durbin (D - IL)

Official Title: A bill to authorize the cancellation of removal and adjustment of status of certain alien students who are long-term United States residents and who entered the United States as children and for other purposes.


11/17/2010: Introduced in Senate

11/18/2010: Placed on Senate calendar

Commentary: This bill is another modified version of the DREAM Act, S. 729, which would grant legal status to some illegal aliens who attend college in the United States or serve in a branch of the U.S. armed forces. Unlike S. 3962, however, S. 3963 would grant its benefits only to those persons who are under 30 years of age at the time of legislative passage. This most-recent edition of the Act also contains no language that would restore the ability of illegal aliens to receive in-state tuition benefits. It likewise makes no changes to the criminal penalties for false statements announced in S. 729. The bill imparts criminal penalties on anyone who files an application for relief under the Act who "willfully or knowingly falsifies, misrepresents, or conceals a material fact or makes any false or fraudulent statement or representation" in conjunction with their application. Violations of this provision are punishable by up to 5 years imprisonment, fines in accordance with Title 18 of the U.S. Code, or both. This new criminal offense would be duplicative of, and uses substantially similar language to, the general federal "false statements" statute (18 U.S.C. § 1001).

S. Amendment 4695:

Sponsor: Bond (R - MO)

Official Title:


11/17/2010: Introduced in Senate

Commentary: This amendment was offered to S. 3538, the National Cyber Infrastructure Protection Act of 2010. Much like S. 3538, this amendment would provide for the establishment of a National Cyber Center in the Department of Defense and would make it unlawful for an officer or employee of the United States or any federal agency to disclose "any cyber threat information protected from disclosure" that comes to that officer or employee in the course of his or her employment or official duties or through an investigation or report made to or filed with that official. Any person making a prohibited disclosure would be subject to imprisonment for up to one year, a fine as provided in Title 18, U.S. Code, or both.

S. 2859: Coral Reef Conservation Amendments Act of 2009

Sponsor: Inouye (D - HI)

Official Title: A bill to amend section 1028 of title 18, United States Code, to prohibit the possession, transfer, or use of fraudulent documents.


12/9/2009: Introduced in Senate

12/9/2009: Referred to Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee

11/17/2010: Reported to Senate by Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee

Commentary: This bill reauthorizes the Coral Reef Conservation Act of 2000. With certain limited exceptions, the bill makes it unlawful to "destroy, take, cause the loss of, or injure any coral reef" or component; to "possess, sell, deliver, carry, transport, or ship" coral taken in violation of the Act; or to violate issued permits or regulations promulgated by the Department of Interior or Department of Commerce pursuant to the Act. A person who "knowingly violates" one of these provisions is subject to up to five years imprisonment, criminal fines, or both. The bill also criminalizes the refusal to permit federal officers to board a vessel for purposes of inspection and enforcement of the Coral Reef Conservation Act, and criminalizes "resisting, opposing, impeding, intimidating, harassing, bribing, interfering with, or forcibly assaulting," or submitting false information to, federal officials in connection with such searches or inspections. A person who "knowingly commits" one of these acts is subject to up to five years imprisonment, criminal fines of up to $500,000 ($1 million for organizations). If a dangerous weapon is used that "causes bodily injury" to the officer or places him "in fear of imminent bodily injury," the maximum prison term is 10 years. The bill also criminalizes the refusal to permit federal officers to board a vessel for purposes of inspection and enforcement of the Coral Reef Conservation Act, and criminalizes "resisting, opposing, impeding, intimidating, harassing, bribing, interfering with, or forcibly assaulting," or submitting false information to, federal officials in connection with such searches or inspections. A person who "knowingly commits" one of these acts is subject to criminal fines of up to $500,000 ($1 million for organizations) and up to five years imprisonment. If a dangerous weapon is used that "causes bodily injury" to the officer or places him "in fear of imminent bodily injury," the maximum prison term is 10 years.

Editor Of The Nation: Send Hither A Swarm Of Bureaucrats

From The American Thinker:

November 18, 2010

Vanden Heuvel: Send Hither a Swarm of Bureaucrats

J. Robert Smith

Katrina vanden Heuvel, who edits the leftwing The Nation, has a very democratic solution to President Obama's loss of the Democrats' House majority a couple of weeks ago. Vanden Heuvel, a bit vexed that voters don't want to keep the left's regressive revolution going, suggests that President Barak Obama govern through executive order.

No longer able to ram legislation down Americans' throats via Democratic congressional majorities, Ms. vanden Heuvel wants Mr. Obama to ram policies down Americans' throats via unelected government bureaucrats.

President Obama, who's already loosed the Environmental Protection Agency, among other bureaucracies, upon unsuspecting Americans in the underreported Quiet Regressive Revolution, might just be encouraged by Ms. vanden Heuvel's prodding and go whole hog - as they say down south. Whole hog being turning the Oval Office into an executive order mill. Whole hog being subverting the will of the people by breaking the federal bureaucracy's chains and yelling "Sic ‘em!"

Vanden Heuvel's advice is yet more dreary evidence that the left's desire to transform America into some socialist paradise takes precedent over democratic processes. Day by day, thanks to twits like Vanden Heuvel, the left reveals its decidedly undemocratic character.

But once upon a time, a king -- King George -- used his powers to issue executive orders that didn't sit very well with American colonists. High tea taxes -- among other travesties -- led to rebellion. Rebellion led to a freedom revolution.

Ms. vanden Heuvel may want to be careful what she wishes for. And the President better be careful what he does in unchaining federal bureaucrats. Once Americans fully grasp the subversion of their liberties that are being encouraged by the left through Washington's bureaucracies, the backlash that comes won't redound to the left's benefit.

Ms. vanden Heuvel, see the Declaration of Independence for more on the subject of tyrannies and revolution.

(Hat tip to Thomas Lifson for the term "regressive,' which fittingly describes what progressivism really means for the nation.)

Posted at 03:56 PM

Bjorn Lomberg's "Cool It" Is A Breath Of Fresh Air

From The American Spectator:


Bjorn Lomborg's 'Cool It' is a Breath of Fresh Air

By Alex Berezow on 11.19.10 @ 1:37AM

The global warming debate is dominated by two extremes. Those on the Left insist climate change mandates a dubious cap-and-trade policy, while those on the Right insist climate science is a fraud or a United Nations-sponsored conspiracy. Put simply, the Left rejects practicality, and the Right rejects reality. Bjorn Lomborg's movie attempts to spark a reasonable conversation about an important topic badly in need of sanity.

Sanity, however, is not easy to find. Early in the film, Mr. Lomborg discusses how some of his critics attempted to destroy his career. These vicious personal attacks culminated in a Danish government investigation of Mr. Lomborg's book, The Skeptical Environmentalist, after which he was ultimately cleared of scientific dishonesty or wrongdoing. Fortunately, the opposition Mr. Lomborg has faced has not stopped him from advancing his worthy ideas.

Mr. Lomborg's thesis is straightforward: Global warming is real and humanity needs to do something about it. However, scare tactics and exaggerations, typified by Al Gore's movie, An Inconvenient Truth, are both unscientific and unproductive. Memorably, Mr. Gore trumpeted the improbable claims that humanity only had 10 years to save the planet, and if we failed, the oceans would rise by 20 feet. Essentially, the annihilation of Earth was a foregone conclusion unless there was an immediate international agreement to adopt a multi-billion dollar cap-and-trade scheme.

Thankfully, Mr. Lomborg walks us back from the ledge. He points out that even if the Kyoto Protocol had been fully adopted and implemented, it would only decrease global temperature by 0.008 degree Fahrenheit by the year 2100. Similarly, current European Union climate policy will cost $250 billion of GDP annually, yet it will likely decrease global temperature by a mere 0.1 degree Fahrenheit. Isn't there a better use for all that money? Mr. Lomborg says yes.

Instead of wasting all that money on politically-correct ideas that do not work, the money should be invested in practical solutions that do. For example, if global warming increases the incidence of malaria, the sensible solution is to provide medicine and vaccines. If global warming threatens polar bears, the best solution is to stop shooting them. (Yes, people still hunt polar bears.) If sea levels rise by the current UN estimate of approximately one foot, the rational plan is to construct flood control systems, such as the one used by the Netherlands.

Besides being outrageously expensive, policies intended to curb pollution may also end up curbing economic growth and development. Climate change activists who ignore this are overlooking a simple fact of human existence: Poor people want to improve their lot in life. Citizens of developing countries, such as India and China, are not interested in saving the planet. On the contrary, they are interested in technological advancement. (This, of course, requires more electricity, and the easiest way to get that is by burning fossil fuels.)

The stark contrast between the mentalities of the developed and developing world was poignantly portrayed in two classroom scenes: Schoolchildren in Europe were concerned about global warming, while schoolchildren in Africa were concerned about malnutrition and disease. While European children envisioned nightmares of a burning planet, African children dreamed of owning a television. The futility, and perhaps even cruelty, of imposing carbon caps on a world preoccupied with escaping poverty was crystal clear.

The ultimate solution to climate change, Mr. Lomborg believes, is not increasing the cost of fossil fuels (through cap-and-trade or carbon taxes) but by making alternative energy desirably cheap. He believes this can be done through investing in green energy research using the money the world would save by not implementing economy-killing climate laws. In addition to solar and wind power, Mr. Lomborg supports research into algae biofuel, geoengineering, and nuclear reactors powered by waste.

While Mr. Lomborg neither addresses his solutions in great detail nor discusses the likelihood of global water shortages, he has made an admirable attempt to inject reason, practicality, and decency into a bitterly divisive issue. If the United States and international community hope to make progress on combating climate change, it would be best if there were fewer people like Al Gore and more people like Bjorn Lomborg.

Alex B. Berezow, Ph.D., is the Editor of RealClearScience.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Health Tyrants

From Lew Rockwell.com:

Health Tyrants

by Walter E. Williams

Recently by Walter E. Williams: Worry Over Trade Deficits

Do federal, state and local governments have a right to intervene in our lives when it comes to choices affecting our health? Recently, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors voted to forbid restaurants from giving gifts with meals that contain too much fat and sugar, a measure aimed at McDonald's Happy Meals. The reasoning of these tyrants is to prevent McDonald's from using toys to lure children into liking foods the board deems non-nutritious. Fortunately, San Francisco's mayor, Gavin Newsom, by no means a libertarian, has threatened to veto the measure saying, "Despite its good intentions, I cannot support this unwise and unprecedented governmental intrusion into parental responsibilities and private choices."

If the board of supervisors gets away with this intrusion into parental responsibilities and choices, we can bet the rent money that they will not stop with McDonald's Happy Meals. The reason is that Happy Meals are not the only contributors to child obesity.

What and how much they eat at home, what time they eat and how much they exercise play a role. When San Francisco's Board of Supervisors see that their Happy Meal ban has not produced the desired results, they'll seek to widen their reach. That might include laws that set purchase limits on non-nutritious items in the city's grocery stores. Depending on family size, there would be a limit on the purchases of delights such as Twinkies, Pop Tarts, lard, salt and other threats to good health. Maybe the Board of Supervisors would issue ration stamps that a person would need in order to purchase foods that threaten obesity.

There will be other challenges for San Francisco's Board of Supervisors. Not every California city has banned Happy Meals. Happy Meals lovers can just go across the Bay Bridge into Oakland or the Golden Gate Bridge into Sausalito to dine on Happy Meals or smuggle them into San Francisco. Maybe a Happy Meal black market would emerge. That means the board of supervisors might make random stops of cars coming into the city and have its police make Happy Meal arrests.

You say, "Williams, you're really stretching it; they'd never go to those extremes!" There's no limit to what do-gooder zealots will do to accomplish their mission. Think back to the 1964, the time of the "First Surgeon General Report: Smoking and Health." Back then, tobacco zealots called for "reasonable" measures such as warning labels on cigarettes and restrictions on advertising. Emboldened by their success in getting these relatively benign measures, tobacco zealots moved on to seeking bans on smoking on airplanes and airports; suits against tobacco manufacturers; confiscatory taxes on cigarettes; denying child adoption to smokers; bans on smoking in bars, restaurants and workplaces; even bans on outdoor smoking such as in stadia, public beaches and city streets. Had the tobacco zealots called for all of these measures, as a total package back in 1964, they would not have even gotten warning labels on cigarettes. That's the tyrant's strategy: Attacking people's rights to property and liberty on a piecemeal basis reduces resistance.

We Americans have given federal, state and local governments the right to interfere with any aspect of our lives when it comes to issues of health. So should we be surprised when an emboldened Congress enacts Obamacare, even though most American were against it, that not only mandates that we purchase health insurance but will eventually control virtually every aspect of our health care? Should we be surprised when government tells us what food to give our children? Should we be surprised when government taxes soft drinks in the name of fighting obesity? Should we be surprised when governments order restaurants not to serve foie gras or cook with trans fats? If you think government has the right to look after our health, how far would you have it go? How about a congressional mandate for morning calisthenics, eight glasses of water a day and eight hours of sleep each night?

November 23, 2010

Walter E. Williams is the John M. Olin distinguished professor of economics at George Mason University, and a nationally syndicated columnist. To find out more about Walter E. Williams and read features by other Creators Syndicate columnists and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate web page.

Copyright © 2010 Creators Syndicate, Inc.

Freezing Citizens To Death In Order To Stop Global Warming

From The American Thinker:

November 19, 2010

Freezing Citizens to Death to Stop Global Warming

Marc Sheppard

A leading U.K. fuel poverty charity is predicting deaths to skyrocket this winter as over 5 million homes struggle to pay rising fuel bills.

The Express is reporting that energy prices “have soared more than 80 per cent in the last five years,” and singles out British Gas for announcing a seven per cent hike when “the number of families struggling to pay their heating bills reaches 5.5 million and excess winter deaths this year are expected to be higher than ever.”

What the article failed to explain, or even mention, is the primary reason energy costs have become so dangerously prohibitive in the U.K: Green energy policy.

According to British Gas managing director Phil Bentley, not only is the price of wholesale gas up since spring, but the company is also fighting the ever-increasing costs of meeting its “environmental obligations.”

E.U. targets require the U.K. to produce 15 percent of its energy from renewable sources by 2020, a sevenfold jump from 2008 implementation. And Britain has set an even loftier goal for its electricity production, mandating 35 percent be derived from renewables by 2020.

To meet those stringent targets, the average British household has been forced to pay roughly £100 a year in green energy subsidies. That’s about 9 percent of the average bill.

But that’s just the beginning. Last December, Alistair Buchanan, chief executive of the country’s energy regulator, Ofgem, told the House of Commons Energy and Climate Change Committee that the costs of switching to a “low-carbon economy” will mean even higher bills.

In order to subsidize economically nonviable green-friendly sources such as wind turbines and tidal power stations, Brit’s will be expected to pay an annual £500 green subsidy by 2030. That means nearly a third of the average fuel bill will represent useless increases specifically slated to fund the construction of inefficient renewable energy sources.

The Daily Mail quoted Buchanan saying “the levy was necessary to fight global warming and leave the country 'a nicer place to live for our children and grandchildren.’ “

Meanwhile, millions won’t be able to afford heating their homes and “will struggle to stay warm this winter and the number of people likely to die in freezing temperatures is set to rise sharply.”

Posted at 03:08 PM