Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Are We Ready to Profile?

By now you've read or seen a variety of opinions on what we should do after the failed Christmas terrorist attack. I won't repeat all the details here. At this stage, it appears the intelligence community knew a little about the terrorist (enough to give him the codename "The Nigerian"), but not a lot. What we do know is there were holes in our system that allowed this man to have everything he needed to blow up a plane over a major U.S. city. His own mistakes, and the quick actions of private citizens are the only thing that saved us.

I have seen a number of reporters and pundits asking if we should update airport screening machines in response to this attack. Specifically, should U.S. airports install the new machines that allow a viewer to see everything under a passengers clothes. However, very few pundits seem to be discussing profiling. Why are we willing to punish innocent passengers by essentially strip searching them, but we won't suffer the potential embarrassment and hurt feelings of a few passengers and a few terrorists by profiling?

The Israeli's seem to profile with excellent success. I think we should really consider this. With the Christmas bomber, we had a Nigerian, paying for a ticket in cash, traveling without luggage. Surely that would have raised a few flags in the profiling process.

There will be the inevitable remark that profiling is racists. I am not arguing to profile strictly on racial lines. I am saying let's talk to Israel, and use another tool that could potentially catch terrorist as oppose to strip searching a vast group of passengers who have no intention of blowing up an airplane.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Book Review: Liberal Fascism

I have written on here a number of times about the Red State Book Notes project. This project was created to discuss conservative idea's and theories. The first book of the project was "A Message to Garcia". The second book was Jonah Goldberg's Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left, From Mussolini to the Politics of Meaning.

Mr. Goldberg traces the history of fascism from Mussolini and Hitler to the modern progressive movement. Before my more liberal readers get up in arms, Mr. Goldberg points out that just because today's liberal movement share's a history with Hitler and others doesn't mean all liberals today would condone that action. However, many of the theories that today's progressive's support have been pursued before with deadly consequences.

As part of the Red State project, I wrote diary entries after almost every chapter. You can view those below this paragraph. Each of these posts discusses important ideas within each of those chapters. They are not intended to be recaps of the chapter, but only discuss an important point. I wanted to post these links to provide more information on the book, and to give you a flavor of the book.

The Good Tyranny

Liberal Fascism: Adolf Hitler

The Original Fascist: Wilson?

Liberal Fascism Chapter 5: We have to do something!

LF Chapter 6 and the Second Coming

LF Chapter 7: The Liberal Racist

LF 8: The Myth of the "Right Wing Business"

LF9: The Religion of Government

LF 10: The Fascism of the Green Movement

LF Afterword and My Final Thoughts

One of the most interesting things I discovered while reading this book is just how little I knew about the Woodrow Wilson presidency or JFK. For example, the first two chapters of the book go into detail about Adolf Hitler and Mussolini. After discussing why people view those governments as fascist, Mr. Goldberg then applies those same rules to President Woodrow Wilson. Mr. Goldberg argues that Wilson was actually the first fascist government in the world.

In the final chapter, Mr. Goldberg points out that liberals aren't the only people with fascist tendencies. He argues that some "compassionate conservatives" have shown fascist tendencies when they try to regulate behavior. However, this section is relatively small. Mr. Goldberg's book focuses in on the examples provided by liberals. He says, "In this book I have argued that modern liberalism is the off-spring of twentieth-century progressivism, which in turn shares intellectual roots with European fascism. " This sentence is a great summary of the book.

This is a great read if you are looking to explore the history of liberalism or progressivism. With more politicians on the left shunning the "liberal" label in favor of the "progressive" one, knowing exactly what this means is important to all voters.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Senate Gives us a Lump of Coal

The Senate has passed what they are calling Health Care Reform. The Democrats in the Senate passed this in spite of breaking Senate rules twice this week, in spite of outcry on both the left and right. Why was it rushed through today? Because Reid was afraid of what would happen if the Democrats went home and heard from their constituents, and Reid was afraid the voters would get a chance to read the bill that was introduced less than a week ago.

Merry Christmas, here's your coal.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Quick Notes: Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Years to you!

Over the next week and a half, my posts will be somewhat infrequent as I celebrate the season with family and friends. I hope you and your family have a safe and fun Christmas and a very happy New Years.

I am working on a post about the Health Care Bill we are about to be saddled with. I think the Senate is in for a rude awakening on this. Both left and right are very upset about this bill. I am also working on a post about a school on the West Coast that banned LEGOs from the school.

If you are looking for something to read today, I recommend these articles:

  1. Peter Wehner writing on the Commentary Magazine online site lists some of the backlash that might be waiting the Senate and President Obama over the Senate's Health Care Bill.
  2. William Kristol at the Weekly Standard sounds a similar note with a lesson on what a "Pyrrhic Victory" is.
  3. Thomas Sowell writes about the "Science" Mantra. I read Sowell any time I can. I like this quote from his article:
As for politicians, Senator Barbara Boxer has urged prosecution of the hackers who uncovered and revealed the e-mails! People who have in the past applauded whistleblowers in business, in the military, or in Republican administrations, and who lionized the New York Times for publishing the classified Pentagon papers, are now shocked and outraged that someone dared to expose massive evidence of manipulations, concealment and destruction of data-- and deliberate cover-ups of all this-- in the global warming establishment.

Enjoy these articles, and once again, have a Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year!

Friday, December 18, 2009

My Global Warming Primer

There seems to be lots of questions on this global warming issue. Anonymous Guy and Andy just go back and forth quoting things that make there point of view true. It is like one of you saying the way to heaven is to follow the Koran and the others says to follow the Bible. Your only proof of who is correct comes from those books you are promoting. Is it possible that the Jews know the way to heaven too? To finish the analogy are human actions the absolutely only reason the Earth is currently warming? If not how much effect do human actions have on it?

--Pack04 commenting here.

I thought Pack04 brought up an excellent point. When I discuss Global Warming face to face with people, I don't have the ability to insert a hyperlink to make my case. Instead, I rely on logic, and hope to give the person some direction to go do their own research. I am going to do my best to do that here. Hopefully this will help shed some light on my thoughts on global warming, and might give you some food for thought.

A little about my background. I have been writing about global warming on here since 2007. I have been reading about the topic longer than that. I studied geophysics in college as a minor. Does that make me an expert in the field? Absolutely not. It does give me a few tools to understand some of the science behind the arguments. Truthfully, I think most of this debate can be understood by anyone, if they can keep a few points in mind. As you read the rest of this article, try to put aside what you currently know about the debate on global warming. Then, after reading this, go back to what you previously thought with, hopefully, a slightly different perspective.

First, it's important to remember that the Earth's climate and temperatures are constantly changing. If you could magically transport all humans, and every piece of our technology and pollution off the planet, the Earth would probably still be warming. At the very least, the temperature would continue to change. Before man arrived, the Earth went through natural warming and cooling cycles. This will continue long after we leave. The question both sides debate is: How much warming is due to man?

Secondly, remember that all future predictions (dire and otherwise) are based on computer models. Computer models are a very complicated set of predictions and assumptions an individual makes. In every other scientific or engineering field, once a computer model is created, it is tested with a known set of data with known results. For example: if you were creating a climate model, you might plug in data from 1900 to 1960 to see if your model could accurately predict the weather of the 1970's and 1980's. If it does, you have a good model. If it doesn't, your model still needs work. Here is the second important point: No model currently out there will predict previous years climate. None of them.

One of the assumptions built into climate models is how clouds act. Climatologists on both sides agree that clouds are an important component (some have argued they are a primary component) of what our climate does. However, climatologists don't understand how or why clouds form, or how and why the disappear, or even why they appear in some locations and not in others. As a third important fact, this means all computer models incorporate a guess on how clouds do what they do. This starts the model with an error before the first piece of data is entered.

Now let's pretend we could accurately predict the climate, and we knew it was in fact warming. That still doesn't end the debate. There is no proof that global warming is a bad thing. If the planet was to increase its temperature by 1 degree over the next 100 years, that might be beneficial. It could cause an increase in plant life and human life. Hot weather kills less than cold weather. If we knew a 1 degree increase might cause an additional 1000 deaths in the summer, but save 10,000 lives in the winter, would that be bad? This debate hasn't happened yet, and until it does, we shouldn't spend fortunes trying to correct something we don't really understand.

We aren't sure how accurate our predictions are, and we aren't sure if global warming would truly be a bad thing. Now, let's look at some solutions. If you have read about this topic, you are familiar with the Kyoto treaty. In a nutshell, the Kyoto Protocol is a international treaty that sets targets for reductions of greenhouse gases. The United States is has not ratified this treaty. However, if every nation in the world signed on to Kyoto and met its requirements, it wouldn't stop global warming. The best it would do is to reduce global temperature increases by approximately 0.01 degree Celsius. And this relatively insignificant reduction would come at a fortune of money, technology, and even quality of life.

However, just because I don't believe in man-made global warming doesn't mean there aren't solutions I would support. I do believe conservation is important. I recycle in my own home. I also believe that if the United States did a major push to increase our nuclear energy facilities, there would be a number of benefits. More US nuclear energy would mean more energy here, less money going over seas, more jobs in the United States, and if you believe in Global Warming, a clean energy source. I am always suspicious of people who claim to believe in man-made catastrophic global warming, but aren't willing to discuss more nuclear facilities in the United States. This is a compromise that should generate support form Democrats and Republicans alike.

The next time you read a global warming article (regardless of the point of view of the article) keep these points in mind. I think you might be surprised with what conclusions you reach on your own if you ignore the propaganda, and just look at the facts. Regardless, like any other issue, if you are going to make an informed decision, you will need to do some homework. I hope this helps to give you a framework to start digging around with.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Book Review: How the Obama Administration Threatens to Undermine Our Elections

I have written twice before (here, and here) about the new series of political pamphlets from Encounter Books. Encounter is producing these pamphlets as,"...indispensable ammunition for intelligent debate on the critical issues of our time." They are small (the one discussed here is 35 pages) and cheap ($5.99). In How the Obama Administration Threatens to Undermine Our Elections (Encounter Broadsides), author John Fund attacks,"...dubious measures that make our current system even more prone to confusion and manipulation...".

This is the third in the series. I have been reviewing these in the order I have received them which is why I haven't reviewed the second book yet. I have to admit that I was a little suspicious of the topic for this one. I was very excited to read the first book in this series, but I wasn't so excited about this book. However, after reading the book, I have to say that Mr. Fund has done a good job laying out his case.

Mr. Fund points to the administrations action in some areas, and inaction in others, to make his point. He discusses a couple of cases that the Justice Department has dropped that were slam dunks / handed to Mr. Holder on a silver platter. Yet for some reason, this administration has dropped them. The case of voter intimidation by the New Black Panthers is one example. From Mr. Funds book:

Bartle Bull couldn't believe his eyes. The former civil-rights lawyer had been arrested in the South during the 1960's. He once forced local officials in Mississippi to remove nooses that were hanging from tree branches outside polling places. But until election day 2008 in Philadelphia, he had never seen a man brandishing a weapon blocking the entrance to a polling place. And now he can't understand why the Obama Department of Justice has dropped its case against the New Black Panther Party, the hate group (according to the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Anti-Defamation League) whose thugs he saw threatening potential voters with truncheons when they tried to vote.

Mr. Fund goes on to discuss how after the Justice Department obtained a default judgment against the accused members of the Black Panthers, the Justice Department suddenly dropped the charges. There are other examples of this in Mr. Funds pamphlet, and there are examples of policy decisions the Obama Administration is pursuing that could make federal elections more fraudulent instead of less. Mr. Fund ends with a paragraph that should worry conservatives and liberals alike:

If we do not demand that the Obama administration and its allies in Congress abandon schemes and policies that further undermine confidence in our electoral system, we are headed for crises that will shake our electoral system and will make us look back on the disputed presidential vote of 2000 with something like nostalgia.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

The Global Warming Hoax

You wouldn't know if from any coverage in the main stream media, the UN, or Al Gore, but man-made global warming has been exposed as a hoax. At the very least it no longer qualifies as "settled science" and there is question there was ever consensus outside of activists and four or five politically motivated scientist. If you haven't followed the news, I will give you a quick summary, the bad news and the good news (the last two intended for global warming believers).

For background, I have written about my position on man-made global warming here. I have read alot about global warming since I wrote that post, but my position hasn't changed dramatically since that writing.

What Happened?

A few weeks ago a series of emails from the Climate Research Unit (CRU) of the East Anglia University became public. It is uncertain if they emails were leaked from inside, or hacked from outside the university. Either way, the CRU did not intend the emails to become public, and they contain some very damning information. The emails suggest that climate scientist at the CRU and in the United States have colluded together to hide evidence that contradicts the theory of man made global warming, to prevent papers that dispute global warming from being published, and to redefine the very word "peer-review" to protect their agenda and to prevent any dissenting papers from coming forward. A number of investigations have been called for in the UK, and the scientist who headed CRU has stepped down. On top of this, there is a possibility the scientists at CRU broke the law by destroying data that should have been made available under Freedom of Information laws in England and the United States. At the very least, all scientific research that has come out of the CRU is now suspect. Much of this research is used in the UN's own global warming reports.

There is far more than this. If you want more details, do a google search for "climategate". These are just the highlights. One important note. So far, this is only receiving media coverage in the United States through the "new media" of radio and the internet. That isn't the case in Canada and the UK. In both of these areas, it is front and center in many major papers as well.

The Bad News

If you are a global warming believer, these revelations are a true doomsday scenario. It means all of the science that has been used to predict catastrophic global warming is inaccurate. The scientists at the CRU were particularly worried about how to hide the cooling trends of the last ten years. They were also worried about keeping their data away from the public, and away from scientist who disagreed with them.

This isn't science, it's activism. In the scientific process, once you have performed an experiment, you release the data to anyone to see if they can collaborate or recreate your experiment. These scientists were doing everything in their power to avoid that. This disqualifies this as science even if the rest of the emails never surfaced.

The Good News

As devastating as this is to the global warming believers, there is a silver lining. There is no evidence we are heading towards a climate doomsday. If you previously thought man was destroying the planet by driving SUV's and using standard light bulbs, you don't have to worry about that any longer. Global warming believers can still work towards conservation, but not with the threat of Armageddon if we don't stop driving SUV's. This is an important point. I, and many others who have doubted the science behind this hoax, believe in conservation. However, Al Gore and others don't want conservation, they want laws that would destroy our entire economy. I think it is wrong to destroy our economy based on a vague theory that has failed to meet any projections, and that has no real science to back it up.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Harry Reid Forgets History

Once more I have to delay my Global Warming post. This time it's due to the inane comments of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (Democrat-NV). In my experience, when liberals start crying racism, it's because they have run out of any legitimate arguments. Today, Harry Reid attempted to call Republicans racist because they oppose Reid's 2,000+ page (and multi-Trillion dollar) health care bill. Reid said:

Instead of joining us on the right side of history, all the Republicans can come up with is, 'slow down, stop everything, let's start over.' If you think you've heard these same excuses before, you're right... When this body was on the verge of guaranteeing equal civil rights to everyone regardless of the color of their skin, some senators resorted to the same filibuster threats that we hear today.

This comment appears to be a reference to history. Harry Reid either believes no-one will look it up, or no one remembers what he's talking about. Here are the two possible cases Reid may be speaking about.

First, he could have been speaking of Strom Thurmond's unsuccessful filibuster of the Civil Rights Act of 1957. Thurmond, who was a Democrat at the time, was defeated by Republicans. Perhaps Reid isn't much of a history student and instead was discussing the debate of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This would be particularly troublesome because the opposition to this bill was again led by Democrats. Even more embarrassing is that one of the most adamant opponents of the Civil Rights Act was Ku Klux Klansman, future Democrat Majority Leader, and current Democratic Senator from West Virginia, Robert Byrd. Byrd serves alongside Reid today. Jonathan Leaf, writing on the filibuster of 1964 says:

In total, the filibuster led by the "yellow dog" Democrats ran for ten million words over 534 hours, filling up 63,000 pages of the Congressional Record. Ultimately, 62 percent of Democratic congressmen and 60 percent of Democratic senators voted for the bill, compared to 80 percent of Republican congressman and 82 percent of Republican senators. {emphasis mine}

Reid should pay more attention to history, and not throw about labels that could be more accurately directed at his own party. The American public, and the voters of Nevada, don't want this health care bill. Reid can try to dance around the issue by smearing Republicans as racist while plugging his ears and ignoring the wishes of his own constituents. At the end of the day, this bill will hurt our economy far more than it will help it. On some level, Reid knows the dangers of this bill, and he knows it is unpopular. That's why he has resorted to calling Republicans racists when his arguments could easily be directed at his own party.

Instead of insulting Republicans, maybe Reid should try to listen to them.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

A New Road in Iran

Earlier this week,I wrote that Iran is moving in a direction that represents a clear and present danger to the United States. Iran is increasing it's nuclear production by beginning construction on five new enrichment facilities. It is also looking for locations to build an additional five facilities. Iran has also committed to increasing aid to external groups that oppose the West by $20 Million. I believe the bulk of this money will go to Hezbollah and Hamas.

There are "three steps" that make Iran a threat to us. First, Iran is not going to voluntarily stop its nuclear program. Is there anyone who seriously believes Iran will only build nuclear reactors and not nuclear weapons? Secondly, Iran controls and funds Hamas and Hezbollah. Should Iran get a nuclear weapon, it's only a matter of time before one (or both) of these groups gets one. Third, should Hezbollah or Hamas get their hands on a nuclear weapon, they will detonate it in Israel or the United States (or both). With this in mind, here are my solutions:

No more "positive" incentives" for Iran. Iran has shown it really isn't interested in allowing Russia to supply it with nuclear power. We should also drop the notion of enticing Iran with money or with an "entry to the world community". Iran has shown they don't care about any of this. How many years have we been following this path only to arrive with Iran closer to aobtaining a nuclear weapon than ever?

Immediate sanctions against Iran. These need to be real and have teeth. They should include a blockade of oil leaving Iran. Iran has to send its oil out to be refined. Let's put an end to that.

Increase funding to pro-Democracy groups inside of Iran. The Obama administration has opposed this and has actually taken the step of cutting funding to groups that document abuses inside Iran. This in an age when we can increase the money to the National Endowment for the Arts, but groups that are putting pressure on Iran get $0.00?

Keep the Military option on the table. And mention it often. Iran needs to know that we will not accept a world with a nuclear Iran. ALL options should be on the table to prevent that.

Mark Hitchcock in The Apocalypse of Ahmadinejad quotes Kenneth Pollack:

Right now, there are two clocks ticking in Tehran. The first is the clock of regime change. Given the sentiments of the people, it seems likely that there will be further meaningful change in Iran at some point in the future. The second clock is the clock of Iran' s nuclear program. We do not know when the alarm on either of those clocks will go off. History has demonstrated that meaningful change in Iran is likely to take considerable time...the findings of the IAEA suggest that Iran is getting fairly close to having a fully self contained enrichment process, if not actual weapons.

These words were written in 2005. We know the nuclear clock is much closer to going off than it was in 2005. President Obama's actions from this summer and more recently look like he doesn't care when either of these clocks go off. We have to act now. Should Iran get a nuclear weapon, the rest of the President's agenda will be moot. We don't have to use the military. We do need to do more than we are doing now.