The real effect of tax rate reductions is to make the future prospects of profit look more favorable, leading to more current investments that generate more current economic activity and more jobs.
Climatology, Sundered By Ideology, Struggles To Remain A Discipline
“Deniers” like NTG have been saying for years that science does not support “warmers'” alarmism. Deniers claim that predictions of anthropogenic global warming (AGW) are the results of processing fudged data (read Montford’s The Hockey Stick Illusion) through biased models.
Yet the warmers carry on, led by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Many scientists endorse the concept of AGW and insist that facts supporting it are available.
Warmers are certainly in error when they predict catastrophic (or even less than catastrophic) warming caused by technology. Deniers have wisely avoided prediction as unreliable at best, and blatant charlatanism at worst; they have advised calm.
Perhaps the best reason not to believe in AGW is the recognition that history provides an essential truth. It is known that the earth’s climate has fluctuated broadly for millennia; the notion that this slow, sometimes faster but constant change should stop now is an irrational fantasy.
Yet it is perfectly natural for people to consider that weather has a “normal” state, and that normal is congenial. When any change occurs, it will therefore be seen as a threat.
This is the wellspring of warmer alarmism. That emotion has produced the IPCC.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
In order to see the IPCC as what it is, begin with an article that presents AGW as a scientific fact.
Then read this commentary. It’s a bit technical, as a scientific appraisal of phenomena should be; if that hinders your reading of the paper, consider this quote: “The list of variables unmeasured, unknown or excluded from official IPCC science invalidates their models and their claims” (emphasis added).
(Parenthetical observation: yes, mankind does add heat to the atmosphere. To get a correct perspective on the amount of energy involved in that process, see this helpful graphic and its attendant commentary.)
Now here’s what matters: it is the business, the foundational purpose of the IPCC, to prove that mankind is warming the earth dangerously. Accordingly, the IPCC continues to perform its unique and sole task — regardless of and without resorting to the objective facts.
If the IPCC admitted the truth, it would necessarily abolish itself. What well-funded and prestigious international committee could be expected to behave suicidally?
Ideology sets science aside in favor of baseless faith
Add to the IPCC’s single-minded purposiveness a cynical, recognizably misanthropic attitude that blames mankind’s behavior for having instigated all manner of unpleasant events, and a bizarre distortion of the concept of cause and effect sets in. Simply stated, it insists that the error of our ways is resulting in our punishment. We must reform and submit to a regimen that will demonstrate our acceptance of received verities. Then we shall deserve the restoration of normalcy.
The refusal to consider causes and effects rationally has been followed by the assignment and acceptance of guilt. That is a textbook instance of magical thinking. The inevitable result is the formation of a dysfunctional ideology.
Like all ruling fables and myths, that ideology is a proper subject for examination by students of abnormal psychology.
The harm done — and the coming dissolution of the debate
The failure to recognize that obvious truth has profoundly distorted climatology. Worse, the bitterness of the dispute has given the public little reason to trust science. Hoaxes and faith-based predictions are very damaging to research and scholarship; the mingling of politics with greed and pseudoscience is a reprehensible spectacle.
Now imagine all of the above swept away as irrelevant. Envision the entire fracas dismissed by overwhelming information, such that deniers and warmers find themselves set aside.
There is evidence that the earth is entering an ice age. No amount of pumping carbon dioxide into the atmosphere could ameliorate or halt that change, once it begins. Indeed, one cannot dispute the simple truth that if the sun weakens, the climate — however changed by technology — will cool. A drastic lowering of solar radiation would have a drastic effect on climate.
Examine the evidence: begin with the first two minutes and fifteen seconds of this video.
Then consider this NASA article on the solar minimum and The Little Ice Age. You do not have to read all of it or struggle to understand its arcane terminology; it says simply that astronomers know a lot about the sun, and that one of the things they know is that our star grows “hotter” and then “cooler” in cycles, and the length of those cycles is known. Predictions are therefore extremely likely to be accurate.
There’s a good — that is, not too technical — summary of recent solar behavior here, as well.
It’s probable that within your lifetime, the climate will cool. (Give it a chance to happen. Avoid falling pianos and Muslims with thick, heavy-looking vests.)
Of course there will be rises and falls in temperature as cooling proceeds, but they will be minor peaks and valleys — that is, they will be weather, which changes hourly — on a line that trends downward over several decades.
Humanity should begin planning its coping strategies now. Never mind all this nonsense about carbon offsets and melting icecaps and drowning polar bears and tropical paradises vanishing into the ocean; that was always rubbish, just propaganda for hopelessly naive, gullible and guilt-ridden trend-followers.
While you await the big change, don’t fret. Geniuses are working on the generation of energy from nuclear fusion. Polar bears are well equipped for the change, and winter wear for humans has never been better, thanks to technology. Termites will find it harder to survive as the climate cools. Those of you who have to travel to ski in snow might well find it easier and cheaper to pursue your goofy hobby.
Yes, look on the bright side: imagine a retributively frostbitten Al Gore.
A final word
Could the solar cycle fail, producing an unexpected increase in heat from the sun? Could the advancing ice age disappear before it arrives?
Yes, of course. Prediction is always risky to some degree. Try to pour a glass of water onto the floor; according to the brilliant and absolutely correct philosopher David Hume, we assume the water will run out of the glass. We cannot, however, know that it will.
The verities involved here include the fact that the warmers were, are, and will remain mistaken. It is also fair to say that the deniers have made solid claims that are rationally valid and scientifically indisputable.
So the expected ice age might not be approaching. But that’s not the way to bet!
Sources of information and opinion
If you want to study the debate over anthropogenic global warming (“climate change”), go to this website and scroll down quite a bit, looking at the right margin of the display. There you will find two lists of websites. The first list is labeled “Pro AGW Views”, and the second is “Skeptical Views”. You are welcome.
Dispatches From A Tramp Abroad
Sophia Marl, of Hagen, Germany, regularly visits the opera, to which she holds season tickets. She is 104. I guess music does help to keep you young.
How much of the Earth’s currently-existing water has ever been turned into a soft drink at some point in its history? The answer and some other surprising hypotheses are here.
A letter to the editor makes the point that Iran is playing the US for a fool.
More on Erdoğan’s shaky situation: here’s a good summary of the current status. It explains how Turkey, using the state-owned Halkbank, was legally circumventing the embargo to pay Iran for the gas being imported – at least until the US caught on and closed that loophole.
Der Spiegel exposes more NSA-related information.
Would the Hanke-Henry Permanent Calendar really improve business efficiency?
Here’s a unique idea for power storage. So, if I understand it correctly, you get paid both for accepting the power for storage in your car and again for making it available to the grid. Maybe one could then drive around “for free”?
Does the Turkish PM have psychological problems? The resigned Minister of Tourism and Culture says, “… if (PM Erdoğan) perceives our warnings as treason, then I would assume he has a significant psychological perception problem.” There is a Turkish saying that a downing man will grab hold of a snake (eel) in an attempt to survive….
Criminal gangs are foiling businesses and credit card companies. There must be a simple solution to this, no? Physical security, i.e., preventing access to the satellite antenna (feed horn) immediately comes to mind. Monitoring the location of the antenna with CCTV surveillance is another. Most stores and gas stations have several camera feeds already.
Is spycraft for the birds? It could be…because it once was. In WW II birds played a major role in transporting secret communications.
This mother has the right idea. She’s instilling better role models for her daughter to follow.
Political Correctness gone awry. So, what about a Hindu, who does not eat meat? Can she refuse to handle a slab of beef, pork or chicken at the till? Come on, People, there is an impermeable plastic wrapper or glass bottle separating your skin from the non-halal item, so you are not really “touching” it. Or maybe we should employ those who refuse to touch non-halal items in the non-food section of the store?
The BBC on the situation in Turkey. But will things really change after the elections? Is the hubris syndrome too deeply entrenched?
Several years ago Barça (the Barcelona soccer/football team) contracted Turkish Airlines to fly them around to their away games. The male crew members on the flights apparently bothered the players all the time requesting autographs. What’s the solution? Provide an all-female crew. I have often wondered whether the ladies choked on the testosterone fumes….
Can NSA, CIA, And FBI Prevent Another September 11, 2001 Attack?
Can the NSA protect the nation by monitoring phone calls and e-mail? That question automatically raises another: why did US intelligence and law enforcement agencies fail to prevent what is commonly known as 9/11?
This article by one Peter Bergen attempts to answer those questions. It cannot provide definitive assurance, and it offers very limited information about how and why the Muslim suicide squads were overlooked when they should have been picked up before they boarded the planes. This madding silence does not meet the public’s obvious need to know why NSA and CIA did not talk to the FBI about a matter of life and death.
This newsletter, however, reported that the intelligence agencies were forbidden by federal law to talk to one another in 2001. In Number 67, published in March of 2009, the matter was clarified as the result of work done by a civil servant named Jamie Gorelick; as Number 67 is not available on line, the relevant part of that issue is reproduced below.
Further, in Number 254, a quote from a former FBI agent asserts that the CIA knew that the Islamists who killed almost three thousand people in New York and Washington and Pennsylvania were in the USA (and obviously busily and purposefully doing something highly suspicious), yet kept that information from the FBI. The CIA’s silence was in accord with the protocol drafted by Gorelick, who strengthened existing law by altering the implementation of the relevant statue to an extreme, absurd and stunningly harmful extent.
If there has been a change in the law since Gorelick’s tragic tampering, this newsletter is not aware of it. If you have relevant information, please provide it.
The situation in early 2014: the public can only hope
Today the populace is tacitly expected to assume that of course the spooks will talk to the cops. Yet secrecy and obfuscatory pronouncements suggest that information sharing and cooperation might not necessarily be in place. This newsletter expresses its tentative opinion that key figures both in and out of government appear to be dangerously incompetent.
Pending further information, one can conclude conditionally that the public is neither respected nor appropriately informed by the ruling elite. Yes, the press is part of that upper stratum of US society.
Reprint: The New Stratification Of US Society Is A Terrible Mistake (2009)
Given the size and durability of the current economic mess, it’s only appropriate to ask who is responsible. The answer depends entirely on your ideological position. If you fancy yourself even-handed, fair and objective, then you point to a number of individuals in all political camps, and accuse them of error or ignorance. If you are a “wingnut,” the Democrats did it. If you are a racist, it was the black legislators who forced the government to loan money to black underachievers. If you are a “moonbat,” you blame Bush for spending too much money on his illegal war and you laugh hysterically at suggestions that Obama is either a nutcase or a socialist. And so it goes.
The fact is, the nation will be debating who did what and why for many years. This newsletter’s contribution to the discussion will take the form of commentaries touching on ideology, politics, and personalities — all are involved. For today, the Penguin Post provides a discussion of a person who participated in the unfolding disaster and serves as an example of how not to run a government. Her story is a tragedy for all but her.
Meet Jamie Gorelick, who prefers not to pronounce her name as “gore lick,” but “guh-RELL-ick.” Can’t blame her.
Jamie hit Harvard like the Huns hitting their neighbors, graduating summa cum laude and impressing the daylights out of everybody. She stormed Harvard Law next, and emerged covered with glory and promise. From there it was a simple step to a Washington DC law firm, where she became a litigator — a role in legal practice roughly akin to the job description of a mean-tempered Pit Bull Terrier. Jamie went from scholarship to the rough-and-tumble of intimidating other lawyers, getting the best possible deal for her employer’s clients in complex cases, and in general taking no crap from anybody.
She was really good at her job. So brilliant and quick on her mental feet was she, that she was suggested to the Clinton administration as a “comer,” and became an assistant to the US Secretary of Energy. What does that have to do with litigation? Well, nothing — and everything. As this newsletter has said, to a man whose total toolkit is a hammer, everything looks like a nail. Jamie must have scared the daylights out of some folks.
Her return to private practice — more litigating — was not a sign of failure. The Democrats were simply putting her back in the box for now, holding her for future use. And so it was that from 1993 to 1994, she was the General Counsel for the Department of Justice. Well done, Jamie!
Yes, that did predict greater things. The litigator rose to the Number Two job in the Justice Department, Deputy Attorney General of the United States of America.
Then came the reward: in 1997, Jamie was able to leave the Justice Department and take a comfortable position with the Federal National Mortgage Association. She was its Vice Chairman.
Was she still a civil servant? On paper, no. Was her new employer a federal agency? Well, no, but yes, sort of. Or maybe yes, but no, not really. Kind of.
In any event, Jamie was no longer restricted as to how much money she could make. Even the top people in the government have to watch where the money comes from — if some Arab drops a couple million in the president’s lap, everyone who knows about it gets pretty shook up. But Jamie was able to make some serious money with Fannie Mae, as we shall see. And she could do it right out in the open! (For background information, see these links: Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.)
Jamie is so darn smart that she was invited to participate in the so-called 9/11 Commission, which tried to figure out why the FBI did not have information from the CIA that the hijackers who killed about three thousand people were in the USA.
More on that in a minute.
Then in 2003 she went back to private practice, where she continues today — though one has to wonder why she did not retire to the south of France. True, she was mentioned as a possible Obama Attorney General, but there seems to have been something in her background that made that, well, awkward.
That’s the course of her career. What did she accomplish, and what do her meteoric rise and eventual departure from government mean? Ah, those are the hot questions. Again, the answers depend on your politics.
Perhaps the best summary of the case against Jamie Gorelick is this devastating, link-laden post, which was linked to in The Penguin Post Number 52.
The story begins with her work in the Department of Justice. When she was Number Two there, in 1995, she wrote a memo that built a stronger “wall” between intelligence (CIA-type outfits) and law enforcement (folks like the FBI). The two are not to talk to each other, Jamie said. And that ruling stuck.
Some say that because of that, the CIA was unable to tell the FBI that the Muslim fanatics who pulled off the 9/11 catastrophe had entered the USA and were probably up to no good. The case is found in this article. There’s more information in this post, as well.
When this came out — and a copy of the memo (with minimal information censored) is available — Jamie was charged with a conflict of interest. Her fellow commissioners defended her place on the investigative body, and she was not tossed off.
Heh! How would you like to say to a seasoned litigator, “You don’t belong here with the rest of us, your background is stained, and you have a serious conflict of interest; there’s the door”? It would be sort of like poking your finger in the eye of a rabid Rottweiler, now wouldn’t it?
So Jamie stayed. And the harm done by her memo remains a topic for debate. In her defense, she claimed that she did not invent or design the wall of separation that left the CIA dumb and the FBI ignorant; it was there all along, she insisted. And so it was. The Democrats fashioned FISA in 1978 (some information here), in reaction to perceived Vietnam-era intelligence infractions. In 1995, Clinton added some teeth to FISA, allowing “black bag” operations (see this article, too).
Well, FISA did have a “wall.” When Jamie found it some fifteen plus years later, she examined the barrier with her litigator’s sharp eye, and declared the wall a joke. She found a chain-link fence and left a thick steel-reinforced cement wall topped with razor wire. Leaders in the justice and intelligence communities, she said explicitly, must do more than just adhere to the law: they must take extra steps to make sure there cannot be any slight appearance of communication between enforcement and intelligence. A 110% effort was the bare minimum, as far as Jamie was concerned.
Look at it from the CIA’s viewpoint. Suppose you are considering breaking a regulation that is almost 20 years old, has no real teeth, and might be set aside if the higher-ups knew what you know. You could well risk a reprimand, defend yourself vigorously, and come out OK. But…what if that regulation is a lot more recent, and is backed up with explicit language that says, in effect, “We have to be more than just in compliance, we have to go overboard in observing this rule”?
Did Jamie’s litigator’s instincts so cripple law enforcement that 9/11 was made possible? Probably. Maybe not. If she had not changed a flimsy fence into an impenetrable wall, would the FBI have been able to prevent 9/11? Possibly. Nobody knows. All that can be said with certainty is that Jamie’s legalistic, impractical, unimaginative zeal did not help matters.
And what about her stay at Fannie Mae? Her quote is a classic:
We believe we are managed safely. We are very pleased that Moody’s gave us an A-minus in the area of bank financial strength — without a reference to the government in any way. Fannie Mae is among the handful of top-quality institutions.
Months later the house of cards collapsed. Fannie Mae was accused by regulators of improper accounting. How much improper accounting? Just a little, too little for it to be spotted by a brilliant, overachieving lawyer who was a cracker-jack litigator…just, well, er, nine billion dollars in unrecorded losses.
As hinted above, Jamie made a pretty good living at Fannie Mae. In her six years there, keeping a litigator’s eye on the financial transactions and procedures (which, if we assume she was not corrupt, seem to have baffled her completely) Jamie took home an average of four and a third million dollars a year. Right: her total take was over twenty-six million dollars of the lenders’ money.
That’s a hell of a lot better than you can do at Justice.
And it’s way too much to pay somebody who can’t smell a dead rat when nine billion of them are decomposing all over the office. If Jamie was neither incompetent nor corrupt, then how can anyone explain her composure?
All right, that’s enough savaging some poor helpless female. (“Poor”?? “Helpless”?? Ah, let it go.) The important aspect of Jamie’s story is what can be learned from it.
Lesson Number One: Academic achievement, while interesting, is not an absolute measure of intellect or worth. In fact it’s not nearly as important as most people believe. There are things to be said for an uninformed curiosity, a critical attitude toward policy, a maverick approach to the prevailing ethos, and a reluctance to follow the herd. Bureaucracies need people who are “difficult,” lest the drones take over and lead the office over the cliff.
Lesson Number Two: There are too many lawyers in government. At some point we are going to have to stop thinking of these people as qualified by their educations to handle any and all problems that government might have to deal with.
Lesson Number Three: When it comes to telling the CIA and FBI what to do, that task should go to someone who has experience in intelligence and, if possible, law enforcement, and if he has a law degree (not necessarily from a prestige school and not necessarily accompanied by admission to any state bar), so much the better. Turning such things over to a pure lawyer is likely to cause trouble.
Lesson Number Four: The groupthink, the herd mentality, and especially an astronomical level of compensation, can weaken the instincts and perceptiveness of the brightest overachiever. See the First Lesson.
Lesson Number Five: There are too many lawyers in government. Sometimes lawyers are just lawyers, and their ethics and judgment may be stunted compared to, say, Joe the Plumber’s common sense.
Jamie Gorelick was by no stretch of the imagination qualified to do anything more than litigate when she stepped into the Justice Department and Fannie Mae. She was presumed to have what it takes. And take she did. Just how much she cost the nation will forever be disputed, but it is clear that she was a mistake, if not a disaster.
Now consider what it all means.
Jamie Gorelick stands revealed as an uninspired plodder whose best efforts at working within the system involved nothing more than finding some feature of it that could be accepted uncritically, extended to an absurd degree, and then cast in bronze. She was the quintessential amateur in a position of undeserved authority. Her ignorance and lack of insight — her failure to appreciate the consequences of unimaginative adherence to bureaucratic stasis — made her blind to flaws and incapable of suggesting genuine improvements. Her contributions were breathtakingly stupid. If she had been an automobile mechanic, her idea of car repair would have been to tighten every screw, nut and bolt in the vehicle, while ignoring the blown head gasket.
In historical context, Gorelick’s disastrous mediocrity reminds of the British peers who mismanaged the War Office at the time of the American Revolution. The assumption of their brilliance was a catastrophic blunder made by the hidebound class system, and it cost the United Kingdom its greatest treasure. Had those degenerate lords (who came to be called “The Hellfire Club”) not been spectacularly incompetent, the United States of America would not be a republic, and there would be no border with Canada. Those who think that government is a sandbox for the privileged simply do not appreciate the harm that can be done if those in power are superbly educated, highly respected fools.
If you can survey the contemporary scene and conclude that the wreckage is somehow the result of an incomprehensible cycle inherent in “capitalism,” you simply do not understand how things actually work. Your error is common: note that as we cope with our distressing circumstances, our scholars indulge themselves in the folly of creating complex new models that will explain what has happened to our financial system. Our wise men have distanced themselves from reality, and they hide behind obtuse mathematics and impenetrable jargon. In fact the causes of the failure are obvious. No matter how sophisticated the structure, no matter how modern it is, it cannot cope well with the rank incompetence of greedy, fatuous managers. When fundamental problems remain unrecognized and simple common sense is discarded (one does not make loans to people who cannot pay them back), the question, “What happened to bring it all down?” is just the whining of simpletons.
If we can not keep people like Jamie Gorelick from ascending to positions of power within our system, we shall deserve the suffering our over-privileged class of lords and ladies will bring down on us. We see around us the results of our recidivistic resort to a discredited stratification of society, where merit is not accurately appraised or rewarded. We have made an atavistic blunder, and our new elite has failed us. Better we put our faith and trust in plumbers, shopkeepers and automobile mechanics.
Rejoice, For The Debate Is Resuscitated
Camille Paglia is back, and thank goodness! Her abrupt departure from the arena some years ago plunged this newsletter into despair. She contributed brilliant insights and sparkling rationality to public affairs — as you will doubtless recall. Here are a few reminders of the glorious past:
In terms of redefining the persona for female authority and leadership, Palin has made the biggest step forward in feminism since Madonna channeled the dominatrix persona of high-glam Marlene Dietrich and rammed pro-sex, pro-beauty feminism down the throats of the prissy, victim-mongering, philistine feminist establishment.
It is nonsensical and counterproductive for Democrats to imagine that pro-life values can be defeated by maliciously destroying their proponents. And it is equally foolish to expect that feminism must for all time be inextricably wed to the pro-choice agenda. There is plenty of room in modern thought for a pro-life feminism — one in fact that would have far more appeal to third-world cultures where motherhood is still honored and where the Western model of the hard-driving, self-absorbed career woman is less admired.
Now consider an excerpt from this column, published 12 August 2009:
Obama’s aggressive endorsement of a healthcare plan that does not even exist yet, except in five competing, fluctuating drafts, makes Washington seem like Cloud Cuckoo Land. The president is promoting the most colossal, brazen bait-and-switch operation since the Bush administration snookered the country into invading Iraq with apocalyptic visions of mushroom clouds over American cities.
You can keep your doctor; you can keep your insurance, if you’re happy with it, Obama keeps assuring us in soothing, lullaby tones. Oh, really? And what if my doctor is not the one appointed by the new government medical boards for ruling on my access to tests and specialists? And what if my insurance company goes belly up because of undercutting by its government-bankrolled competitor? Face it: Virtually all nationalized health systems, neither nourished nor updated by profit-driven private investment, eventually lead to rationing.
That visionary pronouncement validates this newsletter’s confidence and joy. Ah, what blessed relief, for now, with the return of Professor Paglia, an elevated intellectual and aesthetic level has been restored to the discussion.
The problem: government that violates the letter and the spirit of the USA’s federal constitution. Here’s the resolution. Highly recommended.
In all probability, this fuss over light bulbs is a scam.
Smoothing the path to the White House for Hillary: a newspaper is dutifully painting the Benghazi disaster as just one of those things cinema critics do from time to time. To which this newsletter asks, “Who painted it?” Answer (that surprises no one): the New York Times. Response: “That creative journalism requires a willing suspension of disbelief”. Sure — but what difference at this point does it make? None, probably.
“Most Christian opponents of gay marriage oppose gay marriage; they don’t oppose the right of gays to advocate it. Yet thug groups like GLAAD increasingly oppose the right of Christians even to argue their corner. It’s quicker and more effective to silence them.” (Source.)
In an effort to cope with some fundamental problems that are not addressed by the Standard Model of Physics, research is under way that might lead to an understanding of “dark matter”. If these experimental efforts do not bear fruit, it might be necessary to identify one or more fundamental assumptions that are at present not believed to play a role in the mechanics of the universe.
Russian ship stuck in the antarctic ice: amateurs and alarmists on holiday? Some might call it irony, but others say it’s just silly.
Sex and US law: a wretched mess. The debacle begins with profound resentment and anger, and the “corrections” involved in feminist reforms have, in too many instances, amounted to institutionalized revenge that targets not guilty individuals, but a gender.
When “wingnuts” look back at the memorably insane events in US politics that made 2013 so hard to bear, this is what they see.
If you wanted to design the best possible health care system for the USA, what would it not include? Hint: Obama won’t like the answer…and part of the reason why the answer is what it is…can be found here.
Alert: excellent economic commentary available. Teaser: “…the overall (US) economy has failed to rebound strongly as it did so often in the past”. Do read about the baloney called “secular stagnation”.
Regarding that book review (The Rise of the Warrior Cop) in Number 332, here’s more on the abuse of police power in the USA. It’s corruption, pure and simple. Powerful people in the law enforcement and jurisprudential sectors are exploiting the citizenry; therefore ending the abuse appears to be impossible.
This newsletter is bored with endless “wingnut” whining about the news media. So when do you suppose the journalistic establishment will seriously address its ethical shortcomings?
Election fraud: this is how easy it is.
The masthead includes a quote from the works of Thomas Sowell.
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