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Dude, With Keyboard » 2009 » November

Archive for November, 2009

Fun with CNN.com’s Search

CNN.com clearly does not wish for anything to change the narrative. Search on “East Anglia” or “Climate Research Unit” and you’ll get two relevant links. One on the initial coverage of the hacked e-mails scandal and another article on how the CRU has more “proof” that polar warming is the cause of man (rather unfortunately timed just three weeks before the ClimateGate scandal broke). The story on the hacked e-mails basically gave the members of CRU a chance to reply that that there was nothing to see here, move along. And apparently CNN did just that.

Search on “Copenhagen”, however, and several pages of articles have been written (since the ClimateGate scandal broke) about the upcoming “climate change” conference where they’ll discuss how to create an international regime that will solve the problem predicted by problematic computer models based on science produced by scientists of questionable character. Search, in vain, at any caveats or “equal time” regarding the ClimateGate scandal when CNN discusses the upcoming conference.

An aside: My favorite link was entitled “Women ‘bearing brunt’ of climate change.” It reminded me of the old joke regarding the New York Times and their…um…slant. If the world ended the headline would be “World Ends; Women and Minorities Hit the Hardest.”

ClimateGate: The Visio Diagrams

The Devil’s Kitchen has some nice diagrams of how the science was believed to be performed and then how the science was actually performed, post leak of the CRU e-mails. Good stuff.

Peer-Reviewing the Software

Shannon Love at ChicagoBoyz has a nice book end to my lengthy post on the Computer Generated Climate Models. He focuses on lack of peer review in the climate software (whereas I focus on the lack of any apparent software discipline, life cycle or code audit). He notes a vital point about how the “weight” of the peer review process is overstated:

Too often these days when people want to use a scientific study to bolster a political position, they utter the phrase, “It was peer reviewed” like a magical spell to shut off any criticism of a paper’s findings.

Worse, the concept of “peer review” is increasingly being treated in the popular discourse as synonymous with “the findings were reproduced and proven beyond a shadow of a doubt.”

This is never what peer review was intended to accomplish. Peer review functions largely to catch trivial mistakes and to filter out the loons. It does not confirm or refute a paper’s findings. Indeed, many scientific frauds have passed easily through peer review because the scammers knew what information the reviewers needed to see.

Peer review is the process by which scientists, knowledgeable in the field a paper is published in, look over the paper and some of the supporting data and information to make sure that no obvious errors have been made by the experimenters. The most common cause of peer review failure arises when the peer reviewer believes that the experimenters either did not properly configure their instrumentation, follow the proper procedures or sufficiently document that they did so.

In other words, peer review isn’t necessarily a 2nd opinion, like an athlete gets before going under the knife. It is meant to be validation of the scientific process, as opposed to an agreement of the data inputs and conclusions.

He goes on to discuss the real issue with the software:

Unfortunately, that attitude has persisted even as software has grown from a minor accessory into the tool that actually performs the experiment. Today many papers are nothing but reports of what a unique piece of software spit out after processing this or that great glob of data. These software programs are so huge, so complex and so unique that no one who wasn’t directly involved in their creation could hope to understand them without months of study.

Just about everyone in business has had the experience of having to puzzle out a spreadsheet created by someone else who left the company unexpectedly. Although we seldom think of them this way, in reality each individual spreadsheet is a custom piece of computer software written in language of the spreadsheet program. (Technically, all spreadsheets are scripts.) Everybody else knows that you can’t trust the output of a spreadsheet just because the person who made it tells you, “It’s done in Excel.” To trust the output, you either have to compare it against known good data or you have to look at the individual spreadsheet itself to find any places it might go wrong. People create very complex spreadsheets and then leave and some poor schmuck gets stuck trying to figure out what the %$#@! the creator of the spreadsheet was trying to do.

I’ve been lucky enough (uh…sure) to test and and analyze a production costing system. I had to figure out what it was doing before I could then verify that our add-on module was correctly calculating our industry specific modifications. I used a spreadsheet program as my “backup” or test mechanism. This took me weeks of buddy testing with the developer who was deciphering the base code. We had access to the underlying code and it still took us a very long time to do it. This was mission critical, so we did it. And of course, we were paid to do so. But we knew the target we were trying to hit.

Climate models appear to be based on programming the science into the system and then running simulations and trusting the simulation results. The source code, data and methodology was not made generally available until after the CRU leaks (and even then, its only been promised to be made available). Anyone whose ever played a modern video game knows that it takes teams of world class developers to build a physics engine. But, those physics engines only give the perception of reality. They are not hitting the rules exactly. A virtual world is only going to be as good as the rules defined in its programming. Why are we so certain that climate models that predict the future would be so scientifically sound (when the code hasn’t been peer reviewed or put through rigorous quality control). Our company’s developers often say “sure, we can program anything you want, its just going to take this much time and expense.” Are we really so sure that these computer programs weren’t developed with reaching a desired result?

Lastly, Mr. Love mentions the concept of Open Source Science. I’m all for this but I don’t believe that all scientists should be compelled to share their research since it is their intellectual property (and that of their universities and/or employers). I do, however, feel very strongly that if your research is taxpayer funded AND your research and computer models will compel dramatic government expansion and intervention, then you better be an open book. Your science can be analyzed by anyone, of any specialty, regardless of whether or not they get to hide up in the “peer reviewed” ivory tower.

ClimateGate Reaction Part 2: The Computer Models

(Welcome Instapundit Readers!)

NOTE: If any of the following rant strikes you as placing unreasonable limits on climate modelers, then I would like to refer you to The Point. The sigma number of the climate models better take several fingers to count if we must make radical international regulatory changes to our economic activity.

This much we have learned from the Climategate scandal: the computer models used to justify the policy proposals are for crap. Leaving the validity of the underlying science aside, and focusing only on the Climate Research Unit’s computer models, we’ve learned:

  1. The starting point, i.e. the raw data is no longer available to be compared. So we can’t try to “re-create” the analysis that led to the currently used climate models and the catastrophic trends contained therein.
  2. All the inputs are “derived” inputs based on various reasoning: some data sets need to be expunged because the scientist view them as anomalies that do not fit their thesis (I’ll let you dear reader judge whether or not that is innocent or sound science or something more self serving), and other inputs were adjusted to fit some form of normalization requirements. The bottom line is that the historical computer models are not made of raw data, but rather manipulated data (and I really am using that term in a value neutral manner).
  3. The documentation for code is extremely poor and untraceable in some instances
  4. Notations of data manipulation are actually documented in some instances but not traced to any reasoning, as far as can be discerned.
  5. These models have yet to correctly predict any weather events or climate trends in the intervening years since the models were regularly used (say, starting in the 1995 IPCC for starters)
  6. The model code and design history (their source code, the design documentation, functional and technical specifications, etc) that are used as the basis for expensive policy proposals and regulatory regimes were never made available for public third party audits.
  7. There is no evidence that the scientific grant givers performed any technical audit of the code quality, system stability, or system accuracy.

Excuse me while I hop on my high horse.

I work in software. I have eleven years of experience in software quality assurance. I have worked for the two largest software companies on earth. I have been a tester, lead tester and/or test manager on products that performed word processing, enterprise level document management and online collaboration, and enterprise resource planning (ERP), specifically manufacturing, accounting and logistics software.  I have worked in software development outfits of varying size, from small agile groups which were a bit lacking on the organizational side of things, to large groups that used somewhat rigid waterfall methodologies which were high on discipline and detail and low on adaptability. I’ve worked with numerous off shore resources as well as decentralized teams of remote full time resources.

Moreover, I’ve worked in software development that was required to meet certain government and industry standards from ISO regulations to FDA and GAMP requirements, including working directly with FDA audit consultants. My experience teaches me that:

  1. Software development has to be managed and developed by software pros as opposed to experts in other fields that can do some coding when called upon. The experts define the functionality, business need and underlying logic but they do not, or should not do the coding. Otherwise, while you may see innovative solutions and ideas, the execution will typically be quite amateurish and have design flaws up and down the line..
  2. Software development that lacks at least some sort of plan > design > document > develop > test > support life cycle is doomed to have significant bugs and ill thought out data models
  3. Some sort of document trail on how the code does what it does is vital to long term support.
  4. The more variables you throw into a system the higher the quality threshold will be, the risk to code degradation will increase and the need for huge regression cycles will be vital. It would be difficult not to understate the enormous variable load on any climate model.
  5. Open source software certainly has weaknesses but also some enormous strengths. The weaknesses are primarily around how open source software is often created by developers for developers. Their “customers” and “partners” are other developers who also have the ability to improve the software. Open source development can be rough, but it also can be the most dynamic. It is especially useful the more niche or small the target audience is. It strikes me as obvious that climate computer modeling should HAVE TO follow an open source model

The CRU source code does not appear to have been open source in anyway, was apparently coded (in FORTRAN!!!) by scientists whose primary expertise is in climate science and not software development. They are a group of individuals who tout their expertise at every turn but their models lack any evidence of any software development methodology above common hackery. And not to put to fine a point on it, but these models are the basis for the theory that a CO2 caused catastrophe is all but a foregone conclusion without radical international regulatory changes to our economic activity.

Lastly, consider the standards that developers who sell to or implement in the pharmaceutical industry (the industry with one of the highest regulatory requirements for their data integrity):

  1. At a minimum, pharma companies and their software vendors must be able to demonstrate a secure and traceable data flow
  2. They must demonstrate source code control
  3. They must demonstrate change management with a document and source code audit trail from plan/design to implementation, complete with version control and user history
  4. Typically, they must have some sort of electronic signature control mechanism or a reliable paper solution that traces system changes, and is legally binding
  5. All work processes must be fully documented with regards to system access, system usage, and any change to the system itself

We put very rigid controls on pharmaceutical companies and their software vendors to create systems that are secure, reliable and fully documented. This is seen as societal good so that we don’t have our medications tampered with either through incompetence or malicious intent. To put it kindly, there is no evidence that any remote requirements are enforced on the programmers of climate models that were A) likely paid for by taxpayer funded grants and B) are used as a basis for the theory that a CO2 caused catastrophe is all but a foregone conclusion without radical international regulatory changes to our economic activity.

If I were an opinion journalist or a busybody Senator, I might think some minimum requirements would be called for in climate model development BEFORE we go down the path of radical international regulatory changes to our economic activity:

  1. All research and data obtained and developed with a taxpayer funded grant should be made publicly available if it will be used as a basis for public policy
  2. Any software used or created to model the scientific evidence for the public policy should be required to meet the bar set for the pharmaceutical industry and other industries of equal import
  3. Any predictive applications should prove some level of accuracy over a pre-defined time horizon (in years) before being treated as a basis for public policy. The predictive applications must audited for accuracy under a “do nothing” scenario first to show their understanding of the situation.
  4. They should at least be able to accurately predict the recorded past.
  5. Predictive applications would then need to be audited annually, post policy implementation to show that the predicted benefits of the policy were accurate.

Again, if this doesn’t seem like a reasonable set of standards, then that’s sort of The Point. Either AGW is a nice theory or an easily provable fact. Only the latter, is worth discussing (all together now!) radical international regulatory changes to our economic activity. Of course, this assumes the policy makers that are in line to gain enormous power from the policy proposals actually care about the accuracy of the underlying science. My FDA Validated Magic 8-ball program says “don’t count on it, bud”.

A GOP candidate soft on crime?

I know I should not make political hay of this awful crime, particularly when the victim’s families are just now picking up the pieces of their lives. Also, the suspect has not been proven guilty of anything. However, IF the authorities are right about the suspect, surely this would sink any presidential candidacy of Mike Huckabee, the folksy big government evangelical populist posing as an evangelical conservative.

Maurice Clemmons, the 37-year-old Tacoma man being sought for questioning in the killing this morning of four Lakewood police officers, has a long criminal record punctuated by violence, erratic behavior and concerns about his mental health.

Nine years ago, then-Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee granted clemency to Clemmons, commuting his lengthy prison sentence over the protests of prosecutors.

“This is the day I’ve been dreading for a long time,” Larry Jegley, prosecuting attorney for Arkansas’ Pulaski County said tonight when informed that Clemmons was being sought for questioning in connection with the killings.

My prayers go out to the families of these officers killed in the line of duty (an act that possibly would never have happened without the the actions of then Governor Huckabee).

(via Instapundit)

Of Kiwis and Raw Data

Fortunately, it does not appear that the New Zealand global warming alarmists delete their raw data (and bless them for that). Unfortunately, their analysis of global warming trends do not match said raw data.

ClimateGate Reaction Part 1: The Point

“To be controlled in our economic pursuits means to be controlled in everything.” Fredrich Hayek

THE POINT:

We should not be giving away our freedom to national and international authorities, who wish to regulate “every aspect of our life“, to solve an ill-defined “crisis” that has not been irrefutably proven to be caused by man-made carbon dioxide (CO2) output. With the release of the CRU emails and source code, I’d say we are very far from being beyond a shadow of a doubt that we have a looming preventable man-made crisis that requires radical freedom-limiting government action.

This puts it succinctly:

This is really, really, really, really bad stuff, because the entire case for regulatory intervention turns on the predictive power of these models. If the data that is their basis and the the programming itself has been manipulated in any way, shape or form to drive a result intended to influence policy, then all the scientific papers that derive from these models or rely on them in any way ought to be withdrawn.

COMMENTARY:

Global Warming conventional wisdom (aka “the consensus”) in 10 easy steps:

1) According to the global warming alarmists, we have a warming trend that is “virtually certain” over the next 100 years.

2) This warming is man-made, specifically from economic activity that generates carbon dioxide. This, we are told is THE primary cause of the observed warming with no other causes being discovered or given any credence (including that very bright star that we orbit).

3) This warming will achieve a crisis level. The “crisis” is defined in some variation of the following dire circumstances: global ice caps melting and dramatically raising sea levels, water shortages, rich agricultural sources drying up (these last two resulting in mass starvation) and energy resources being depleted. (And in the media’s attempt to beat the drums of a crisis, we have a ridiculous list of seemingly unrelated items that are blamed on whatever global warming has already occurred)

4) These predictions are based on climate models built by a myriad of scientists who have taken the last 150 years of temperature records, modified them for some form of normalization, and ran them out for the next century or two. It is these models that the predicted crisis is dependent upon. The code quality of these models are deemed to be sound, never mind the questions around raw data inputs and the lack of any public software audit.

5) A scientific consensus, and more importantly a political consensus, has formed (or has been manufactured) behind this theory of man-made, or anthropogenic global warming (AGW) and the accuracy of the predictions from these computer models.

6) This consensus has branded anyone who questions the consensus as heretics skeptics and sometimes “deniers” (with the association with Holocaust denial being completely intentional). Leaving the name calling aside, this consensus points to a dearth of peer reviewed work from the skeptical scientists in order to discredit the quality of their conclusions.

7) This consensus, whose chief spokesman declared the science as settled and beyond debate, and having declared a irreversible crisis unless something is done, have produced varied policy proposals at various national and international levels. All of these proposals would result in more government and multi-government control over economic activity (in more extreme examples, also control over population growth).

8) The primary authority of these proposals rest on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a body of the United Nations that manages research into the question of global warming and climate “change”. The IPCC’s primary purpose is to issue summary evidence for policy makers who will be in charge of “doing something.” The IPCC report is a political exercise that uses science to reach a political consensus (don’t believe its political at its heart? Just look at the name again: intergovernmental). More specifically, it uses the scientific research as the authority for its political recommendations.

9) The IPCC uses a historical temperature map known as the “hockey stick” as a key piece of evidence of the dramatic warming of the 20th century. It also uses specific climate models to predict that the trend will continue and that this will result in the various dire circumstances listed in point #3.

10) The “hockey stick” and the primary climate models used for predictive purposes are produced or peer reviewed by scientists who work for or are affiliated with the Climate Research Unit (CRU) at East Anglia University in the United Kingdom. The raw data, the full body of research and the source code to the climate models have never been made publically available for additional scientific review, despite numerous requests to do so. The CRU’s mission is overtly policy oriented as opposed to pure science and are intimately involved in the IPCC.

And what is the scandal being called ClimateGate, by some, and Climaquiddick by others? Someone has hacked/downloaded/stolen the source code to the climate models and the email history from the Climate Research Unit at East Anglia University in the UK. The e-mails are between key scientists involved in or the authors of the hockey stick graph and the climate models used by the IPCC.

So, what if the foundation for their conclusions of a climate crisis are based on computer models that are poorly sourced (in fact much of the raw data is gone!), inexplicably manipulated, lacking good documentation and quality control, and do not seem to reflect the raw data that purport to represent the spike in global temperatures? What if the scientists who are key advisers and authors of the IPCC report used their political clout to prevent  access to peer review processes for scientists who reach different conclusions, all the while claiming that the lack of peer review for skeptical papers is why skeptics cannot be trusted? What if these very scientists have at least hinted at manipulating data to reach a desired conclusion and attempted to ignore observable trends that run counter to their predicted trends? What if these scientists refused to share their data and correspondence so vehemently that they plotted to delete information vital to an official Freedom of Information Act request?

It calls into question the ethics of researchers at the heart of the global warming industry (see point #9), and, most importantly, it damages the credibility of their computer models (see points #4 and #10). That would be the same computer models that the policy makers who will be gathering in Copenhagen shortly to agree on what to do about the “crisis” these models predict (See point #7). These policy makers propose regulatory schemes that most economists believe will restrict current economic activity and ultimately economic prosperity. These policy makers don’t see this as a bad thing. After all, what do you think they mean by their constant refrain on sustainability? So, how are they going to convince the common plebes that we should voluntarily limit growth? By convincing them that unless we take drastic government enforced measures, we are going to heat the globe to crisis levels. Without the science, without the predicted crisis, these policies would be unnecessary.

CONLUSION:

Therefore all policy proposals beyond voluntary individual action and existing clean air guidelines should be placed permanently on hold until all the data has been reanalyzed and all research, all methodology, all computer code, and all coding standards are publicly available and put through a true democratic investigation if they are to be used to dictate public policy. Furthermore, the computer models must be set to some standards of predictive accuracy within a limited term time horizon (not less than 10 years) and must be able to accurately predict, within a reasonable margin of error, agreed upon global climate criteria as well the impact of large weather events. This must occur before any policy proposals are put into place. If this is too complex and too high a threshold to meet, then perhaps, we should stop pretending that AGW is a proven fact, that we have settled the question of man’s impact on the global climate and that we must limit economic prosperity to prevent a crisis whose scope we cannot accurately predict.

Short and Sweet

Stephen Green, whose not blogging near as much as he should because he’s all multimedia now, offers some nice advice for our President who is probably too marxist busy to listen to something so simple.

Dear Mr. President,

You can’t create any jobs. And talking constantly about jobs you can’t create makes you look ineffective — so let’s cut that out before we even get started, OK?

But the private sector, the real economy, can and will create jobs. All you have to do is… sit there. Stop taxing, stop regulating, and stop imposing. Just get out of the way, and, to put it in language you’ll understand, you’ll see a thousand flowers bloom.

Then I suppose you can get back to screwing everything up.

Yours,

-Steve.

The Most Depressing Thing I’ve Read Today

The Corner is loaded with good stuff today. And by good, I mean valuable information that is also quite depressing. John Hood displays how federalism, decentralized government and the concept of Jefferson’s little laboratories appears to be just about dead:

Federal funds are now the single-largest revenue source for state and local governments, edging out retail sales taxes. Of course, all federal funds derive from taxpayers who also live in states and localities, so the fiction of “free” money from “Washington” is one of the problems with this. Essentially, Congress and the administration issued a bunch of federal debt to finance state and local operating deficits — a subversion of legal and constitutional rules against the practice in most parts of the country, by the way — and thus bailed out state and local politicians who would have otherwise had to take responsibility for their past fiscal decisions and enact larger budget savings or tax hikes. Reckless fiscal policies, in other words, have been rewarded. Expect more.

I’m not sure “nanny state” or “welfare state” really captures the direction the country is moving toward. I think “Loan Shark state” is more like it.

Best Chart of the Week

Nick Schultz at AEI has a nice stark graph on what the Obama administration looks for in their appointments. As the first lady lectured on the campaign trail, working in corporate America is a quality the Obama’s are not particularly fond of. For Cabinet Appointments, private sector experience is apparently frowned upon. (via Jonah Goldberg)

obamacabinet

I, for one, Welcome Our New Disheveled Hair Overlords

I was once a stalwart internationalist. I’m still a hard core free trader and in fact, I think free trade and globalization (properly understood) are great things for humanity’s prosperity and freedom. That said, I am no longer all aflutter over the idea of international treaties on anything other than trade. They quite frankly freak me out. I wish I could attribute this to simple crotchety paranoia. While I loath Pat Buchanan with the essence of my being, his concerns about a New World Order seem…I can’t bare to say it…but…they seem sort of prescient. Because, those in power keep giving people like him great material. I have often said that the European Union is basically what you would get if university professors ran the government (note: I’m talking about the EU specifically, not Europe in general). Heck, if you watch the linked video, I think they may have just “elected” a president who looks like your crazy physics professor (say this much for Tony Blair, he would have had something resembling charisma). Anyway, I’m not here to make fun of how Euro Big Cheese Van Rompuy looks (though, I guess I just did). I’m here to comment on how he talks of global governance and management as if that is a feature, not a bug.

First, he practices a little Gorean Alarmism. At the 1:39 mark he speaks of tackling the “climate crisis which threatens our very survival.“  Really? Our VERY SURVIVAL? The worst case scenarios I’ve seen say that some of our nice coastal cities may be a foot or two under water. This assumes you trust that we’ll hit the stated UPPER range of the computer models that have yet to accurately predict anything of value.  Given that this will be a gradual rise, people will move inland, or more likely, they’ll figure out how to build a bigger better New Orleans or Venice. Oh yeah, Venice, a city that seems to have managed quite well with all that water. Now I’m a skeptic in that I wouldn’t bet my livelihood on the accuracy of those predictions which managed to miss out on the current flat lining of the warming (and the environmentalist crowd have a very poor track record in the last 50 years on predicting doom). But even if I believe it, the scientist who are alarmist (as opposed to the fear mongering politicians and celebrities) don’t predict anything that threatens “the very survival of humanity.” They predict crises in resource management and quality of life and even starvation in some places. Its no picnic to be sure, but humanity has overcome much worse in its history and usually thrived once things normalize. Again, just so we’re clear I don’t actually believe any of that will come to be, I’m just saying that if I take the alarmist scientists at their word, THEY don’t predict the catastrophe that the world leaders seem to be trying to use as an excuse to make us poorer (apparently as a way to get ahead of the curve of said climate caused poverty).

Then he says “2009 is the first year of global governance with the establishment of the G20 in the middle of the financial crisis”. He says this like its a good thing. Only an unelected, barely accountable group of international finance ministers and their political bosses can get us out of said crisis. Never let a crisis go to waste, I suppose. And please pay no attention to the international regimes many of these same guys put into place that created false promises of security and artificial bubbles that were precursors to the current crisis.

He goes on: “The Climate Conference in Copenhagen is another step towards global management of our planet.” This, according to Mega-Euro-Man-With-Bad-Hair (oops, I promised I wouldn’t) is progress. Sure, I want Brussels based, or New York based, or Geneva based international chiefs five positions removed from any elected official “managing our planet.” When all these people talk so highly about diversity, I really wish “diversity in governance” was also part of the equation. I like that the federal government doesn’t have total management (yet) of our country’s economy and resources. I like it even better that the laws in Georgia are different than those in Florida. It gives me options on where to live.

Have we become so insecure in ourselves here in the western world? Are we that insecure in our individual ability to live life and pursue happiness, as even when we struggle to pay bills, we still maintain the highest standard of living in human history? Do we actually want to let unelected “elected” leaders “manage our planet?” Considering how the need for such management is touted as a way to counter runaway capitalism, consumption and the general lack of responsibility by the common plebes, raise your hand if you think global governance will:

A) Be accountable to any meaningful electorate

B) Will have anything resembling the checks and balances that we have built into our constitution that the transnationalist generally abhor

C) Will not see a one size fits all approach to said global governance

D) Will be free of corruption that would put Jack Abramoff to shame

E) Will benefit individual freedom

This is not paranoia. I don’t doubt that these people genuinely believe they want to help others. I also don’t doubt, however, that they think they are smarter than you or I and we should feel blessed to have such enlightened folk at the planetary helm.

We should be thankful that Mr. van Rompuy has been honest. We know that Obama is sympathetic to such like minded folk. But, I’d be the crazy conspiracy theorist f I simply note that these transnationalists do not have sympathy towards individual freedom. They have been quite forthright about this when you choose to open your ears. I must admit, however, that I’m afraid to open my eyes. I fear seeing a black helicopter with the blue European flag beside the Obama “O” emblazoned on the side.

Example 264,237 why Congressmen are utter Slime Balls

They seem to have successfully bribed the holdout Senator from Louisiana on the health care bill.

On page 432 of the Reid bill, there is a section increasing federal Medicaid subsidies for “certain states recovering from a major disaster.”

The section spends two pages defining which “states” would qualify, saying, among other things, that it would be states that “during the preceding 7 fiscal years” have been declared a “major disaster area.”

I am told the section applies to exactly one state:  Louisiana, the home of moderate Democrat Mary Landrieu, who has been playing hard to get on the health care bill.

In other words, the bill spends two pages describing would could be written with a single world:  Louisiana.  (This may also help explain why the bill is long.)

Senator Harry Reid, who drafted the bill, cannot pass it without the support of Louisiana’s Mary Landrieu.

How much does it cost?  According to the Congressional Budget Office: $100 million.

Who knew the vote of a holdout Senator is the equivalent of the average New York Yankees free agent acquisition. Sounds about right I suppose. Even better, though, is that its OUR money being spent this way.

Exit Question: When will the nation be free of guilt for a hurricane hitting Louisiana?

Exit Answer: Probably around the same time that those supposed cost savings in the two health care bills are realized.

UPDATE: Now its $300 million. And she doesn’t seem to be ashamed of it ether.

Staffers on Capitol Hill were calling it the Louisiana Purchase.

On the eve of Saturday’s showdown in the Senate over health-care reform, Democratic leaders still hadn’t secured the support of Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.), one of the 60 votes needed to keep the legislation alive. The wavering lawmaker was offered a sweetener: at least $100 million in extra federal money for her home state.

And so it came to pass that Landrieu walked onto the Senate floor midafternoon Saturday to announce her aye vote — and to trumpet the financial “fix” she had arranged for Louisiana. “I am not going to be defensive,” she declared. “And it’s not a $100 million fix. It’s a $300 million fix.”

Seems like this book could used a revised addition to cover the last 17 years.

The Real Threat facing Humanity

The single greatest problem with climate alarmist is that they have no shame with regards to their hyperbole. I could take pleasure in the circular firing squad of euro-lefties griping about Obama, but that’s not really what I’m here for. Its this:

Although Bush once said that America is overly dependent on oil, he never got beyond that insight. He was too busy waging war on Iraq and searching for a legal basis for extraordinary renditions to pay much attention to the real threat facing humanity. “Forget the climate” seems to have been Bush’s unofficial motto.

Let’s leave aside for a moment the policy intelligence of our endeavors in Afghanistan and Iraq (and the much smaller actions with regards to other officially Muslim tyrannies) and just look at the term of a “real threat.” Let’s see: 3,000 dead on September 11th, 2001. 240 dead in Bali in 2002. 191 Dead in Madrid in 2004. 56 dead in London in 2005. Numerous arrests that thwarted attacks in the US and Europe (and in Europe, they don’t stress about wiretapping). Iran, a terror supporting state, building nukes. Pakistan, a state that is hard to describe in a couple of words, has nukes and has a big swath of territory it doesn’t control that is supporting the Taliban. Yes, the same Taliban that aided and abetted Osama bin Laden. And even if you didn’t count a democratic Iraq as a component of the war on terror, Iraq had attacked two of its neighbors unprovoked, used weapons of mass destruction on its own citizen, all the while  financing terrorists in Israel. But Saddam’s Iraq wasn’t a “real” threat.

“Climate Change” continues to thwart the computer models and even the worst predictions put a few nice cities under water…In a 100 years. Giving people plenty of time to move to Kansas. I’ve driven across Kansas. It has plenty of room. Ah yes, man made global warming will cause famine and water shortages, supposedly. This from the same people who incorrectly the predicted mass starvation that was supposed to occur before the end of the last century. This also from the same people who did not predict the stagnation of the warming over the last several years. The same people who predicted that Katrina was only the first of many awful global warming induced hurricane seasons that would be upon us (pay no attention that we’ve had a couple of the quietest hurricane seasons ever recorded since then.)

But its climate change that is the “REAL” threat. Yep, that’s going to get me to take you seriously. Remember the good ol’ days when being environmentalist meant wanting to recycle and conserve? But now we need international big brothers to force us to be poorer. All the while, we try our damnedest to ignore the folks misusing their religion to justify killing us.

Thoughts on Sarah Palin

Quick hit thoughts on Sarah Palin

1. I root for her, primarily because of the people who root against her.

2. Given her back story, if she had a (D) after her name instead of an (R), there would be competing made for TV movies produced by ABC and Lifetime in which she plays the heroic small town girl who does the Mr. Smith goes to Washington routine.

3. I have never seen such blatant character assassination. I’ve thought long and hard and I can’t come up with anyone attacked so vociferously, so quickly and so unfairly. People keep saying she’s an idiot enough and it becomes conventional wisdom even though she never had a chance to prove otherwise.

4. And until the unedited video is released, I won’t factor in the Katie Couric interview into that.

5. I still think the primary strike against her is her quitting the governor’s mansion. Can she play king maker on the political scene? Sure she can and good for her if she does. But, be president? I’d like to believe, but I don’t see it. Reagan had irrational hate aimed at him. This is roughly triple that.

6. Policy wise, I like her Reagan-esque schtick but I still have concerns of her playing populist.

7. I think Megan McCardle sums it up nicely. Though I like Palin more than she does, I think she’s got it about right.

8. I admit it. I think she’s hot.

Al Gore playing loose with the facts?

Our former Vice President and Most Smartest Politician Evah before President Chicago came along stated on Conan O’brian that some new advances could tap geothermal energy a few miles down because the earth’s interior is “several million degrees”. John Derbyshire, someone who writes books on math as a side project, astutely corrects him:

The geothermal gradient is usually quoted as 25–50 degrees Celsius per mile of depth in normal terrain (not, e.g., in the crater of Kilauea). Two kilometers down, therefore, (that’s a mile and a quarter if you’re not as science-y as Al) you’ll have an average gain of 30–60 degrees — exploitable for things like home heating, though not hot enough to make a nice pot of tea. The temperature at the earth’s core, 4,000 miles down, is usually quoted as 5,000 degrees Celsius, though these guys claim it’s much less, while some contrarian geophysicists have posted claims up to 9,000 degrees. The temperature at the surface of the Sun is around 6,000 degrees Celsius, while at the center, where nuclear fusion is going on bigtime, things get up over 10 million degrees.

If the temperature anywhere inside the earth was “several million degrees,” we’d be a star.

I wouldn’t worry about it, its not like he has a history of making extraordinary claims that even his policy allies don’t believe.

Don’t bow to monarchs

Mike Potemra links to this guy and ultimately agrees with the point that Obama’s bow to Japan’s Emporer isn’t worth getting lathered up about and I think that is fair as far as that goes. The blogger, Mark Shea, while making a fair point, buries it in “cliched liberal straw man invective 101″, however. You know, we’re retards that spew, zombie like, whatever it was that Rush and Fox said the night before. And that any criticism of Obama is automatically worth ignoring since Bush launched wars and tortured people, yada yada. I’d be happy to debate the merits of the Bush doctrine, but it’d be nice if it wasn’t a pre-req for arguing health care, taxes, speaking highly of communist murderers, etc. You know, it’d be great if we could just argue the point at hand. If you are going to charge hypocracy, then make it relevant. Voting for a president who, rightly or wrongly, exercised his power as president is just not relevant to the discussion of what sort of protocol should be levied by the American president towards foreign monarchs.

So, on that note, can I state simply that if I were meeting the Japanese Emporer and I was carrying out the duties of some Dude with a keyboard, from America, in Japan on Dude-ish business and was representing only myself or perhaps my company (how awesome would that be, BTW) then I’d probably bow to said Emporer, or King, or Living Deity or whatever the title of the dude or dude-ette was. Yes, be humble and respect your hosts. BUT, is it really too much to ask that we remember our history and remember that the American President has the authority given to him by the American people. Our foreign counterparts have to understand that understand that Americans take great pride in our lack of a monarch. Its sort embedded in our political DNA. Many great arguments were fought over the idea of a United States King and we don’t have one with good damn reason. Again, we’re a government of the people. Bow to their elected leaders, if a bow is common protocol of respect. But not to monarchs.

Obama is not being humble for himself, but for US. State protocol cuts both ways and really, where did the rule come into play that only Americans must be humble. Sure, you may catch more flies with honey than vinegar. I get all that. Monarch’s get their legitamacy through birth, title and tradition. Sure, most foreign monarchs for allies are figureheads and the people in question (the Japanese, but the same can probably be said for any number of European citizens) probably view their monarchs as an integral part of their country. That’s fine. But, the president of the United States must remember, first and foremost, that America is what it is. We shouldn’t bow to monarchs.

Bonus Rambling: And just for the record, I was equally appalled by this act of our previous president. But, the writer at the link moonlights at Fox, so I guess I’m just entering zombie mode by linking. Of course, you’ll see that she wasn’t much a fan of the Bushes’ relationship with the Saudis either.

Extra Bonus Rambling: I’m only mildly irritated and really, I’m just about numb with our president’s desire to show that America isn’t particularly special. So, file this post under “sigh” instead of “rage.”

And why were they jealous?

I know I’m stealing a few bases here, but how can I resist? CNN reporter sought out a shirt that shows Obama as Mao and is for sale in China. I’m guessing its meant as a compliment. I don’t know. But, after she haggles with Chinese police who didn’t want the shirt broadcasts for fear offending Americans (at least THEY know how it SHOULD be viewed) she was able to hang onto the shirt so she could report on it. Then she says:

“They wanted our press cards, our passports, but most of all, they wanted the shirt,” she said. “Finally, they let us go. Phew!”

Chang refused to surrender the offending shirt and joked that a number of jealous White House and CNN colleagues had tried to “bribe” her for it.

Did they want the shirt because they thought the shirt was a nice complement? Or was it an offensive collectors item (like say, an original Nazi flag)? And was she talking about White House staff or White House correspondents. I’m sure she’d refer to both as colleagues, regardless. They are on the same team after all.

As predictable as…

This was as predictable as conservatives wishing that Hillary had won. The first month of the FY2010 is already worse than expected.

The $176.36 billion gap is more than $20 billion wider than the shortfall recorded in October 2008, driven up by lower tax receipts, stimulus-related revenue reductions and consistently high government outlays.

Treasury’s monthly budget statement shows receipts were $135.33 billion in October, down 18% from a year earlier and at the lowest level since October 2002. Meanwhile, outlays were $311.69 billion, down 3% from a year earlier and at their second-highest monthly level on record.

The October deficit figure is wider than the Congressional Budget Office’s estimate for a $175 billion deficit in the month and wider than the $165.9 billion expected by analysts surveyed by Dow Jones Newswires.

The Treasury on Thursday also revised September’s deficit to a slightly narrower $46.57 billion, from a previously reported $46.61 billion. Even with the revision, the U.S. in fiscal year 2009 posted a record total budget deficit of near $1.4 trillion — three times its previous record.

At the equivalent of 9.9% of gross domestic product, the figure is the widest U.S. deficit as a share of GDP since 1945.

The staggering number has had U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner pledging to rein in the deficit as the nation’s economy recovers.

Expect this to continue, since basically every major policy initiative proposed by the Democrats that govern our dear country will have an adverse impact on economic growth, consumer discretionary spending or employers willingness to hire people. Obama’s first budget projected that we’d have Dot Com boom-like growth to drag us out of this recession. Only a kool-aid drinking fool (or a journalist paid to reprint budget projects as “going to happen”) would believe his policies will do anything to make that likely.

I especially like the part about Geithner getting serious about the deficit. Unless he convinces his boss to start vetoing the bacon fests, otherwise known as congressional spending measures, I’d really like to know how he plans to do that.

(via Hotair)

They want you to be poorer

A point I intend to hammer repeatedly: career environmentalist want you to be poorer. Europe’s organizing of the ants that they politely refer to as citizens continues apace. The Dutch want you to pay by the kilometer for your driving. They’ll monitor your commuting habits with GPS devices. You will pay the government if you drive too much. All in the name of controlling your carbon footprint. The Dutch approach has a bit of novelty to it, but the Brits would just assume use a sledgehammer: you’ll get carbon credits to be used for any form of transportation and then you can buy more, assuming you can afford it. But they assure us that the bankers won’t get away with living lavishly (though I’m going to bet the same won’t be said for your average MP). No, I’m not kidding, a guy with the title “Lord” was prattling on about the lavish life style of those boorish bankers.

A semi-related aside: Let’s say that Bush and Cheney were as bad as their hyperventilating critics say they were. They had all these vast tentacles building up a fascist empire until Saint Barrack arrived. You ever think that, while relaxing at George’s ranch after a day of shooting at Mexicans and puppies, they look at news reports like these and think to themselves how utterly unimaginative they were:

Darth Sidious Cheney: You mean, we could have GPS monitors in peoples’ cars and know exactly where everyone goes and when and even tracked their expenses on things like plane tickets and such, all in the name of the “environment”?

W: And the best you came up with was snooping around in frickin’ library cards? And we get skewered for that!  I always knew you didn’t make it past the first chapter of Rummy’s copy of “Fascism for Dummies.” I guess Senator Kerry was right. They really are smarter in Europe.

Massachusetts also employs the MSU method

Looks like the People’s Republic of Massachusetts is also employing the MSU accounting method for jobs “saved or created.”

Related: I’m up to 1,032.319 jobs saved or created just this past week using the same methodology. I’m hoping for a medal.


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