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Saturday, December 5, 2009

Et tu, NASA?

The Washington Times reports:
Chris Horner, a senior fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, said NASA has refused for two years to provide information under the Freedom of Information Act that would show how the agency has shaped its climate data and would explain why the agency has repeatedly had to correct its data going as far back as the 1930s.

"I assume that what is there is highly damaging," Mr. Horner said. "These guys are quite clearly bound and determined not to reveal their internal discussions about this."
Incidentally, this article reports on the recent grilling of Obama administation officials over Climategate. Jane Lubchenco, a marine biologist and climate researcher who heads the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, dismissed the controversy. But how could she dismiss the scandal given that Climategate has shown IPCC's integrity to be hopelessly compromised? Upon what does she base her claims?
The e-mails don't negate or even deal with data from both NOAA and NASA, which keep independent climate records and show dramatic warming, Lubchenco told members of the House global warming committee.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Peter Schiff Debates Fed Officials

Here is a link to videos of Peter Schiff debating Fed officials and an interview after the panel. Unfortunately, the debate was not allowed to go on very long, but the interview is excellent.

(HT: Not PC)

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Obama Open To Any Ideas to Create Jobs, Except Ideas that Will Create Jobs

Faced with rising unemployment and a stagnating economy, how would you expect Obama to proceed? Would you expect him to discover what is causing unemployment and economic decline? Would you expect him study the laws of economics or political economy and integrate that knowledge with history and the facts underlying the present crisis? Would you expect him to study the nature of the boom-bust cycle and learn how it is caused by government inflation of the money supply and exacerbated by the moral hazard created by government financial guarantees? Would you expect him to understand the relationship of saving to capital investment and how that relates to productivity, real wages, and an improving standard of living?

More fundamentally, might you expect him to have some grasp of the necessary relationship between morality, individual rights, economic freedom, and prosperity? Upon such a basis, might you expect him to grasp that economic freedom is moral and practical and that any particular economic crisis is not unique but merely a concrete instance explainable by these more fundamental principles?

Might such an understanding point not only to the cause but also to the solution?

To predict how Obama might actually behave, consider my June 2008 post in which I stated:

Obama's philosophy is textbook pragmatism. He literally calls for "facts" not "ideology". An ideology is a set of interrelated principles and principles are essential to rational thought. Without principles (abstract concepts), our minds would be reduced to the level of an animal consciousness reacting on the range of the moment to every sensation. Note that Obama does not reject a particular ideology - he rejects the concept of ideology as such. He does not want to hear about individual rights or the law of supply and demand. When the time comes, he will assess the "facts" or "want to see what is going on at the moment" and take a poll of experts or "ask a wide range of viewpoints from business leaders." Is the forced expropriation of one's earnings for the unearned benefit of others right, i.e., are taxes immoral? Is the confiscation of a producer's wealth and capital "practical"? He doesn't know.

Well, "the time has come" and, predictably, Obama can be counted on to myopically focus on the problem as an isolated fact without any context or relationship to the more general problem. With such an approach, he can not solve any problem. Instead, he must rely on the opinions of others guided only by a vague criteria euphemistically masking his default moral-political ideology by cultural osmosis: sacrifice, egalitarianism, and collectivism.

Accordingly, Obama has convened a "Jobs Summit" to do what else - seek expert advice and consensus from people who share his stunted grasp of economics and Marxist political vision.

President Barack Obama promised at a White House jobs forum on Thursday to take "every responsible step to accelerate job creation," including some ideas he said could be put into action quickly.

Note that any idea must be "responsible", i.e., not responsible. So, immediately we meet the euphemism for altruism and collectivism. Second, the idea must be put into action quickly, because, after all, as a pragmatist, he must not delay by engaging in "ideological" discussions of economic cause and effect, morality, or the proper function of government, i.e., principles that could lead to a long term solution. He must act now!

So what exactly is Barry's grand vision to restore economic growth?

The president said there were some ideas that could be put to work almost immediately and other ideas that will become part of legislation... He listed "moving forward on an aggressive agenda for energy efficiency and weatherization" as a prime candidate for quick action.

Evidently, "weatherization" represents a focus on the "big picture" because Comrade Pelosi is focusing on more narrow topics:

As Obama and participants focused on the big picture, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., was more narrowly focused, telling reporters that Congress will tap unused funds from last year's $700 billion Wall Street bailout to pay for new spending on roads and bridges and save the jobs of firefighters, teachers and other public employees.

Apparently, their idea is to take money from some people and give it to others, which somehow is going to "save jobs" (see my series of posts debunking stimulus spending). What about the people that have to pay the bill? Won't the money that the firefighters and teachers receive represent a corresponding loss to the people that pay for it? If Pelosi can actually save jobs by stealing money from some and giving it to others, why not steal all the money of every American and give it to, uh, every other American...With those bizarre and contradictory marching orders in hand:

the guests broke into different working groups to brainstorm with administration officials

But just in case anyone had an actual idea, Obama reiterated the actual message:

Dropping in on a session on "Green Jobs of the Future," Obama said, "Not to tip our hand too much, but one of the things I would be surprised if we don't end up moving forward on is an aggressive agenda for energy efficiency and weatherization. Because that is an area where we can get it up and running relatively quickly. You don't need new technologies."

Obama told the group that clean energy was the nation's best candidate "if we are to shift from the bubble and bust model that we have. ... We want to make a push in this area."

Exactly how will diverting capital from productive uses to make-work boondoggles like "green jobs" (see my post debunking "green jobs") "shift [us] from the bubble and bust model"? He doesn't say (although he does say we can do it "relatively quickly" which is paramount). In fact, stimulus spending, which increases budget deficits and crowds out productive investment, leads to inflation as the Federal Reserve purchases government debt with fake money to keep interest rates artificially low. This is the primary cause of the "bubble and bust model". Therefore...wait for it...Obama wants more stimulus spending!

He cited the success of the administration's Cash for Clunkers program, noting that car companies carried much of the marketing responsibilities that helped make the effort so popular. Home improvement companies like Home Depot would be key as partners in any future jobs program focusing on energy efficiencies, Obama told company chairman Frank Blake.

Translation: he is going to propose some sort of taxpayer funded subsidy for people to "weatherize" by purchasing stuff from Home Depot. (see my series of posts debunking "cash for clunkers")

Unfortunately, the administration is determined to do something that "works":

The forum was kicked off by Labor Secretary Hilda Solis, who called the present unemployment rate "a stark reminder of how much we have to do." She said the administration "will not rest" until it had been successful at job creation.

Actually, that is precisely what the administration must do - REST! Stop taking our money. Stop regulating business. Stop doing anything except protecting property and person. Get out of the way.

Acccording to the article, somewhere else in town, Republicans held their own "competing round-table discussion":

At that session, [Douglas] Holtz-Eakin suggested the single best thing Obama could do to create jobs was "to reverse course on a dangerous agenda of debt-financed spending, crippling regulation, expensive mandates and intrusive government expansion."

And, most of all, doing nothing could be accomplished very quickly! Obama should love that.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Over 50,000 Served!

At the beginning of 2009, my goal was to reach 20,000 page hits by the end of the year. I'm proud to report that today, the hit counter went over 50,000.

Thanks to everybody for visiting, commenting, and linking my site. I want to especially thank all those who regularly comment. It really adds to the blog and helps clarify my own thinking. Additionally, the feedback helps me focus on topics and issues that interest people. So please comment as much as you can or email me if you have something particular.

I have met a lot of great people and am continually amazed at the quality and quantity of writing and the number of people engaged in intellectual activism. I look forward to adding to the effort in 2010.

(Incidentally, I am starting a sister blog called "The Rational Artist" to discuss, uh, art and culture. Stay tuned!)

Happy Holidays and thanks again!

The Tragedy of Pragmatism

For anyone who thinks that philosophy is not important, consider Obama's speech last night at West Point in which he announced his decision to commit more troops in Afghanistan - and then withdraw them. The assembled cadets and the entire nation was exposed to a full frontal of his warped epistemology as he haplessly stumped through this morass of contradiction. Writing for Spiegel, Gabor Steingart describes the speech:

Extremists kill in the name of Islam, he said, before adding that it is one of the "world's great religions." He promised that responsibility for the country's security would soon be transferred to the government of President Hamid Karzai -- a government which he said was "corrupt." The Taliban is dangerous and growing stronger. But "America will have to show our strength in the way that we end wars," he added.

It was a dizzying combination of surge and withdrawal, of marching to and fro. The fast pace was reminiscent of plays about the French revolution: Troops enter from the right to loud cannon fire and then they exit to the left. And at the end, the dead are left on stage.

Amidst his tangled web of non sequiturs and vacuous platitudes, one might be tempted to ask: just what is the goal of America's foreign policy? Who is the enemy and why? How do we measure success? What are the rules of engagement? What lessons can be learned from history?

Obama's pathological pragmatism does not allow him to even ask such questions. To the pragmatist, there are no absolutes. There is no right and wrong. To the post modern intellectual, history can only be viewed through the lens of gender, race, and ethnicity. What was true fifty, a hundred or even a thousand years ago can not possibly be relevant today. Obama was serious when he told us that he rejects ideology in favor of action. Now, the nation and the world will pay the price for heeding the lessons of America's philosophy professors.

Unfortunately, America's dead soldiers, the ultimate tribute to modern philosophy, will not be actors left on a stage.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Be Careful What You Think

I highly recommend Ari Armstrong's excellent post related to the FTC's new rules that go into effect today, which threaten fines and imprisonment for non-compliant bloggers. He states:

The new rules pose a variety of problems. The FTC has no legitimate authority to issue such rules, which defy the First Amendment and constitute censorship and the chilling of free speech. The rules are extremely broad, ranging from free review copies of books to Twitter posts. The rules are arbitrary and ambiguous, such that their precise requirements and penalties cannot be determined in advance. The rules thus open the door to political abuses. The rules are discriminatory in that they subject bloggers to different standards than print journalists.

The FTC is acting in blatant defiance of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, and therefore the FTC should be abolished and its rules rescinded.

He also provides links to other commentary.

Some may see this as a narrow rule pertaining to only a subset of bloggers and hence, not appreciate the wider implications. As Armstrong aptly demonstrates, the implications of such rules are ominous.

In previous
posts, I have discussed the various trial balloons being floated by opponents of free speech, noting that these particular regulations bare all the hallmarks of "choice architect", Cass Sunstein, in his drive to "nudge" the masses towards realizing his version of the ideal "citizen." Make no mistake, freedom of speech, the last pillar of civilization, is under attack.