8/26/2012

Debating Liberals Department

Over the past several years, I’ve engaged in numerous debates with my liberal friends, and I think I’ve just about learned most of the tricks they pull at this late stage of the game.

Here’s my short list of the “Favorite Nine”:

1) Attack The Messenger: Instead of addressing the argument that has been made, people using this method attack the person making it instead. This is particularly easy for many on the left who believe that almost everyone on the right is a racist, sexist, homophobic, Fascist, or some other horrible label. 
2) The Bait & Switch: When a claim is made and your opponent refutes it, don’t try to respond, simply change the subject. 
3) The Blitzkrieg: The goal here is blast your opponent with so many accusations that they can’t possibly respond. 
4) Enter The Strawman: Tremendously exaggerating your opponent’s position and then claiming to fight against a position they don’t hold is always a great way to dodge the issues
5) History Will Be Kind For I Intend To Write It: The technique is similar to using strawmen in some respects. What you try to do is to rewrite history, to claim that a debate in a previous time was different than it actually was.  
6) I’m Not Hearing You — La La La: Just totally ignoring what your opponent has to say and going on to something else is another technique often used by politicians of all stripes.
7) Motives Matter, Results Don’t: Oftentimes when people on the left are losing an argument or can’t explain why they seem to be so inconsistent on certain issues, they start questioning the motives of their opponents. 
The Bush administration may have claimed to care about stopping terrorism, weapons of mass destruction, humanitarian causes, or UN Resolutions, but it was really all about stealing oil, getting payoffs for business buddies, getting revenge for an attack on “daddy", etc.
8) Context On A Need To Know Basis: Stripping away the context of a situation is a favored technique of people who hate the United States. They talk about something the United States has done without discussing the reasoning behind it, the actions that provoked it, or other things that the United States might have also done that would place us in a more favorable light. It’s very easy to make someone look like a bad guy if you simply don’t include every detail that doesn’t support your case. 
9) Mean, Mean, Mean! When it comes to certain subjects, ordinarily rational people turn into complete bubbleheads. For example, you could probably put together a bill that called for nuclear waste to be dumped in every Walmart in America and as long as you called it the, “Feed The Children For A New Tomorrow Bill” about a 1/3rd of the American population would support it. So naturally, some people take advantage of this and claim that certain policy proposals are “mean”.  You hear this all the time from the left in Congress: “Mean spirited Republicans”.

This is of course, not to say that right-leaning debaters don’t use any of these diversionary tactics – they do. But they seem to be more prevalent in use among the liberal and progressive crowd.

If you want to debate on facts, figures and arithmetic and leave out the ad-hominem and straw-man tactics, I’m all ears. I love a good debate, and when I’m beat, accept defeat graciously.

8/25/2012

What Really Caused the Great Recession of 2008?

You’ll find plenty of blame to go around on this subject, but a little study shows that there were four or five major factors that caused the last big recession, and neither a single president or a single party can be blamed.

First, the expanded mandate of Fannie and Freddie - The housing collapse can be traced back the Clinton administration’s pressuring of Fannie and Freddie to encourage more home buying. The Community Reinvestment Act — in which banks were encouraged to lend to people who normally would not be worthy of obtaining home loans — was especially pernicious. The Act had been around for a long time prior to Clinton, but the Clinton Administration turned a once-obscure and lightly enforced banking regulation law into one of the most powerful mandates shaping American cities. This actually started way back in the Carter administration.

Second, The FED kept interest rates too low for too long. Keeping interest rates artificially low led predictably to excessive credit and speculative asset bubbles — such as occurred in the housing market, which was the bubble that brought everything down. It wasn’t Wall Street at all – they were just doing what they normally do. What happened is that Fannie and Freddie badly misrepresented the soundness of the loans that Wall Street was securitizing.

Third, mark-to-market accounting, which requires financial institutions to adjust their balance sheets and capital accounts whenever the value of an asset they own increases or decreases. The trouble with this is that it requires banks to show paper losses for assets they may have no plans to sell. FDR suspended mark to market accounting in 1938, but unfortunately, the George W. Bush administration brought it back in 2007.  Of the more than $700 billion that financial institutions have written off, almost all of it has been book write-downs, not actual cash losses.

Fourth, repeal of the uptick rule – enacted by FDR, the uptick rule says investors can’t short a stock unless it goes up in price.  In 2007, the SEC got rid of the rule, resulting in investors betting against the market, manipulating the market, and depressing stock prices.  I should add that many dispute this, but the fact remains that it had an effect.

Fifth, Repeal of Glass-Steagall – A main provision of Glass-Steagall was separating investment banking from commercial banking. But in 1999, the Gramm–Leach–Bliley Act (passed by a majority of Republicans and signed by Bill Clinton) repealed that provision. The problem is that this encouraged banks to be speculative — to take risks, knowing all along that the FDIC would insure their loss. 

This list focuses on things where government was responsible in one way or another. But it’s also worth noting that the creation and rapid expansion of new financial instruments (credit default obligations and credit default swaps) certainly contributed to the financial crisis. These problems were collectively created in a bipartisan fashion — with mistakes being pretty evenly divided between the Clinton and Bush administrations. Most of the primary contributors to the Great Recession are still in place. Fed rates are near zero. Banks are still Too Big To Fail — Dodd-Frank certainly didn’t end that. Very little has been fixed. In fact, the government is now attempting to use the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to implement the very same “easy credit” mortgage policies that got us into this mess in the first place.

8/05/2012

Why I Don’t Trust the IPCC for Climate Science


The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is an intergovernmental body, set up at the request of member governments. It was first established in 1988 by two United Nations organizations, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), and later endorsed by the United Nations General Assembly through Resolution 43/53. Its mission:

"to provide comprehensive scientific assessments of current scientific, technical and socio-economic information worldwide about the risk of climate change caused by human activity, its potential environmental and socio-economic consequences, and possible options for adapting to these consequences or mitigating the effects."

Note carefully that the mission of the IPCC clearly states "climate change caused by human activity" as a foregone conclusion - before it even begins to do any scientific research!

The chief characteristic which distinguishes a scientific method of inquiry from other methods of acquiring knowledge is that scientists seek to let reality speak for itself, supporting a theory when a theory's predictions are confirmed and challenging a theory when its predictions prove false.

Journalists are among the IPCC's most ardent admirers. They say that it’s “Climate Bible” is written by thousands of the world's top experts who all agree with its conclusions. They routinely use words such as gold standard, authoritative, and pre-eminent to describe it. Indeed, when discussing the IPCC the media sound more like cheerleaders than hard-nosed reporters:
the IPCC...has shown us the way (Time magazine)
It is chapter and verse, it is Holy Writ (Irish Independent)
most scientists have been awed by the IPCC's deliberate work (New York Times)
The greatest feat of global scientific cooperation ever seen...utterly unique and authoritative (UK Guardian)

Let us be sensible for a moment. Planet Earth is 4.5 billion years old. During that time it has endured all sorts of perfectly natural climate transformations. As recently as 20,000 years ago 97% of Canada was covered by ice. This ice melted and the Ice Age went away by itself.

It is claimed repeatedly that the "IPCC engages thousands of the world's best experts."

But such claims are bogus. For starters, some of the world's most experienced experts have been left out in the cold. In 2005 an atmospheric science professor from Colorado State University named William Gray told a US Senate Committee:

“Despite my 50 years of meteorology experience and my many years of involvement in seasonal hurricane and climate prediction, I have never been asked for input on any of the [IPCC] reports.”

The reason he wasn't invited to the party, he says, is because he doesn't think global warming causes more (or stronger) hurricanes. "They know my views and do not wish to have to deal with them."

You can find numerous examples of this kind of "cherry picking" at the IPCC. This suggests the IPCC defines top scientists and best experts differently than do most of us.

In early 2010 the InterAcademy Council, an organization comprised of science bodies from around the world, took an historic step. It established a committee whose purpose was to investigate IPCC policies and procedures.

The collected answers to the questionnaire total 678 pages. As early as page 16, someone complains that: "some of the lead authors...are clearly not qualified to be lead authors."
Here are other direct quotes:
There are far too many politically correct appointments, so that developing country scientists are appointed who have insufficient scientific competence to do anything useful.
This is reasonable if it is regarded as a learning experience, but in my chapter...we had half of the [lead authors] who were not competent.
(p. 138)
The whole process...[is] flawed by an excessive concern for geographical balance. All decisions are political before being scientific. (p. 554)
…half of the authors are there for simply representing different parts of the world. (p. 296)

According to the IAC report, IPCC assessments are intended to rely mainly on peer-reviewed literature. An analysis of the 14,000 references cited in the Third Assessment Report found that peer-reviewed journal articles comprised 84 percent of references in Working Group I, but comprised only 59 percent of references in Working Group II and 36 percent of references in Working Group III.
 
The current IPCC procedure requires authors to critically assess unpub­lished or non-peer-reviewed sources, reviewing their quality and validity before incorporating them (Appendix D).Non-peer-reviewed sources are to be listed in the reference sections of IPCC reports, followed by a statement that they are not peer-reviewed.

it is clear that these procedures are not always followed. A search through the Working Group reports of the fourth assessment found few instances of information flagged as unpublished or non-peer-reviewed. Blogs, newspaper articles, press releases, advocacy group reports, and proprietary data were thought by many to be inappro­priate.

The infamously wrong IPCC Fourth Assessment prediction in 2007 that the Himalayan glaciers could disappear by 2035 or sooner was based on a World Wildlife Fund report that was based on a 1999 article in New Scientist that, in turn, was based on unfounded speculation in an email from an Indian professor! This is not good climate science. It is politically motivated JUNK SCIENCE PROPAGANDA.

However, the IAC report did not pick up what, to me, is the clearest indication that IPCC is a con game:

Instead of first determining WHETHER there is genuine warming ARISING FROM causes about which man has some control, it PREDETERMINES its structures and conclusions, thus (from p.6 of IAC's report):

Working Group I assesses the physical scientific aspects of the climate system and climate change, including attribution of past change and projections of future change.
Working Group II assesses the vulnerability of socioeconomic and natural systems to climate change [NOTE that man made climate change  is first ASSUMED] negative and positive consequences of climate change, and options for adapting to it.
Working Group III assesses policy and technology options for mitigating climate change [NOTE that man made climate change  is first ASSUMED] through, for example, limiting or preventing greenhouse gas emissions and enhancing activities that remove them from the atmosphere.

IPCC has, in this manner, PREDETERMINED IN ADVANCE that there IS a MAN-MADE problem worth studying. Once again, this is not how real science works.

Journalists say we should trust the IPCC's conclusions because its reports have been written by the world's finest scientific minds. But in order for that to be the case the IPCC would need to apply very different criteria when selecting its authors.

The improper relationship between activists and the IPCC is illustrated by a 2007 Greenpeace publication. The foreword to that document was written by none other than Rajendra Pachauri, head of the IPCC. At the end of his remarks, beside his photograph, he is identified not as a private individual expressing private opinions but as the chairman of the IPCC. The following year Pachauri wrote another foreword for another Greenpeace publication. Think about this for a moment. The IPCC's role is similar to that of a trial judge. It examines the scientific evidence and decides whether or not human-produced carbon dioxide is guilty of triggering climate change. How much faith would you have in the impartiality of a murder trial if the judge was hearing evidence during the day and partying with the prosecution team during the evening?

Climate modelers also write other IPCC report sections – including the crucial attribution chapter. For the IPCC's 2007 report, the two most senior authors of that chapter – Gabriele Hegerl and Francis Zwiers – were both climate modelers. They based their decision on what they believe their models reveal. [footnote 7-2] But the computer models are flawed. The IPCC may claim that the world's top scientific minds and climate modelers are one and the same. But I think that's a stretch. In July 2007, five IPCC authors wrote an article for Scientific American in which they equated climate models with a fortune-teller's crystal ball. On the one hand, they declared it a certainty that people, plants, and animals would all be living with the consequences of human-induced climate change "for at least the next thousand years." On the other, they said: Unfortunately, the crystal ball provided by our climate models becomes cloudier for predictions out beyond a century or so. Each of us has to make up our own mind regarding whom to trust and what to believe. But when I became a grownup, I stopped believing in crystal balls.

If the IPCC followed proper scientific principles and wasn’t a politically motivated arm of the United Nations, I’d have a lot more faith in their reports. Unfortunately, that is not the case.

8/01/2012

Obama’s Calculated Deception

A graph titled 'Private Sector Job Creation' on the Obama-Biden campaign website… announces proudly that 4.4 million private sector jobs have been created over the past 28 months.

But at the same point during the Reagan recovery, the economy had created 9.5 million new jobs.     Contrary to the Obama campaign's misleading claim of 4.4 million new jobs created, total jobs today are still half a million less than in January 2009 when Obama entered office.    The unemployment rate, which we were told would not exceed 8% if we enacted Mr. Obama's stimulus package…has never fallen below 8% during his presidency. The rate has averaged 9.2% since February 2009.

After Bush's tax rate cuts were all fully implemented in 2003, the economy created 7.8 million new jobs over the next 4 years and the unemployment rate fell from over 6% to 4.4%.

President Obama and his chairman of the Council of Economic Advisors, Alan Krueger, brag that private sector jobs have now grown for "28 straight months." But job growth is the norm -- in the 62 years from January 1946, after World War II, until January 2008, jobs grew in 86% of the months, or 640 out of 744. Reagan's recovery produced job growth in 81 out of its first 82 months, with 20 million new jobs created over those 7 years, increasing the civilian workforce at the time by 20%. Even George W. Bush oversaw 52 consecutive months of job growth, including nearly 8 million new jobs created after his 2003 capital gains and dividends tax rate cuts became effective.

Obama is campaigning as if he were certain that a majority of Americans do not know that all recessions end and that labor markets recover eventually.Obama's tragic jobs record reflects the dismal economic growth under his administration's throwback, Keynesian economic policies. For all of last year, the economy grew by a paltry real rate of 1.7%, only about half America's long-term trend. The average so far this year has been no better. That dismal growth is further reflected in the Census Bureau reports of falling real wages under Obama, kicking median family income back over 10 years, with more Americans in poverty today than at any time in the more than 50 years that Census has been tracking poverty.

In the second year of Reagan's recovery, the economy boomed by a real rate of 6.8%, the highest in 50 years. Real per capita disposable income increased by 18% from 1982 to 1989, meaning the American standard of living increased by almost 20% in those first 7 years of the Reagan boom alone. The poverty rate, which had started increasing during the Carter years, declined every year from 1984 to 1989, dropping by one-sixth from its peak. That is the proper comparison for Obama's economic performance.

Obama also attacks the wealthy with his "fair share" mantra. "The Distribution of Household Income and Federal Taxes, 2008 and 2009," issued by CBO on July 10, reports that the top 1% of income earners paid 39% of federal individual income taxes in 2009, while earning 13% of the income. That means their share of federal income taxes was three times their share of income. And that is down from 2007, before President Obama was even elected. In that year, after 25 years of Reagan Republican tax policies, the top 1% paid 40% of federal individual income taxes. CBO further reported that in 2009 the top 20% of income earners, those earning more than $74,000, paid 94% of federal individual income taxes, virtually all of the net total. That was 85% more than the share of national income they earned.

The Obama campaign continues its calculated deception in saturating the Internet with advertising alleging that Mitt Romney's "tax plan" would raise taxes on the middle class and working families. Not only has Romney proposed no such thing, House Republicans have already voted for Rep. Paul Ryan's tax reform plan that would cut the federal income tax rate for all families earning less than $100,000 to 10%, and Romney has endorsed that as well.

Obama's lying allegation regarding Romney flies in the face of that reality. Rather, it is Obama who has raised taxes on the middle class, in gross violation of his 2008 campaign pledge not to do so. That has been held, in fact, by the United States Supreme Court, which ruled that the individual mandate in Obamacare is constitutional precisely because it is a tax. And that individual mandate tax applies to the middle class, and working people.

It is a classically abusive Saul Alinsky trick to accuse your opponent of planning to do exactly what you have done, as Obama does in continually accusing Romney of proposing to raise taxes on the middle class. Only an idiot can fail to see that the entire Democrat party's spending plans require sweeping tax increases on the middle class!

The entire Democrat party needs to be held responsible for Obama, the abusive dishonesty of his campaign operation, and the accelerating downward spiral of America his neo-Marxist policies are producing.