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Merchants of Smear

Somewhat Reasonable - January 19, 2015, 3:52 PM

I want YOU to believe my alarmist hype about the climate.

Manmade climate disaster proponents know the Saul Alinksy community agitator playbook by heart. In a fight, almost anything goes. Never admit error; just change your terminology and attack again.  Expand your base, by giving potential allies financial and political reasons to join your cause. Pick “enemy” targets, freeze them, personalize them, polarize them and vilify them.

The “crisis” was global cooling, until Earth stopped cooling around 1976. It was global warming, until our planet stopped warming around 1995. The alarmist mantra then became “climate change” or “climate disruption” or “extreme weather.” Always manmade. Since Earth’s climate often fluctuates, and there are always weather extremes, such claims can never be disproven, certainly not to the alarmists’ satisfaction.

Alarmists say modern civilization’s “greenhouse gas” emissions are causing profound climate change – by replacing the powerful, interconnected solar and other natural forces that have driven climate and weather patterns and events since Earth and human history began. They insist that these alleged human-induced changes are already happening and are already disastrous. Pope Francis says we are already witnessing a “great cataclysm” for our planet, people and environment.

However, there is no cataclysm – now or imminent – even as atmospheric carbon dioxide levels have gone well past the alleged 350 parts-per-million “tipping point,” and now hover near 400 ppm (0.04%). There has been no warming since 1995, and recent winters have been among the coldest in centuries in the United Kingdom and continental Europe, despite steadily rising levels of plant-fertilizing CO2.

As of January 12, 2015, it has been 3,365 days (9.2 years!) since a Category 3-5 hurricane hit the US mainland. This is by far the longest such stretch since record-keeping began in 1900, if not since the American Civil War. Sea levels are barely rising, at a mere seven inches per century. Antarctic sea ice is expanding to new records; Arctic ice has also rebounded. Polar bears are thriving. In fact:

Every measure of actual evidence contradicts alarmist claims and computer model predictions. No matter how fast or sophisticated those models are, feeding them false or unproven assumptions about CO2 and manipulated or “homogenized” temperature data still yields garbage output, scenarios and predictions.

That’s why alarmists also intoned the “peak oil” and “resource depletion” mantra – until fracking produced gushers of new supplies. So now they talk about “sustainable development,” which really means “whatever we advocate is sustainable; whatever we despise and oppose is unsustainable.”

USEPA Administrator Gina McCarthy also ignores climate realities. Her agency is battling coal-fired power plants (and will go after methane and gas-fired generators next), to “stop climate change” and “trigger a range of investments” in innovation and a “clean power future.” What she really means is: Smart businesses will support our agenda. If they do, we’ll give them billions in taxpayer and consumer money. If they oppose us, we will crush them. And when we say innovation, we don’t mean fracking.

As to responding to these inconvenient climate realities, or debating them with the thousands of scientists who reject the “dangerous manmade climate change” tautology, she responds: “The time for arguing about climate change has passed. The vast majority of scientists agree that our climate is changing.”

This absurd, dismissive assertion underscores citizen investigative journalist Russell Cook’s findings, in his perceptive and fascinating Merchants of Smear report. The climate catastrophe narrative survives only because there has been virtually no debate over its scientific claims, he explains. The public rarely sees the extensive evidence debunking and destroying climate cataclysm assertions, because alarmists insist that “the science is settled,” refuse to acknowledge or debate anyone who says otherwise, and claim skeptical scientists get paid by oil companies, tainting anything they say.

The fossil-fuel-payoff claim is classic Alinsky: Target and vilify your “enemies.”

“No one has ever offered an iota of evidence” that oil interests paid skeptical researchers to change their science to fit industry views, “despite legions of people repeating the claim,” Cook notes. “Never has so much – the very survival of the global warming issue – depended on so little – a paper-thin accusation from people having hugely troubling credibility issues of their own.” The tactic is intended to marginalize manmade global warming skeptics. But the larger problem is mainstream media malfeasance: reporters never question “climate crisis” dogmas … or allegations that “climate denier” scientists are willing to fabricate studies questioning “settled science” for a few grand in illicit industry money.

Pay no attention to the real-world climate or those guys behind the curtain, we are told. Just worry about climate monsters conjured up by their computer models. “Climate change deniers” are Big Oil lackeys – and you should turn a blind eye to the billions of dollars in government, industry and foundation money paid annually to researchers and modelers who subscribe to manmade climate disruption claims.

In fact, the US government alone spent over $106 billion in taxpayer funds on alarmist climate research between 2003 and 2010. In return, the researchers refuse to let other scientists, IPCC reviewers or FOIA investigators see their raw data, computer codes or CO2-driven algorithms. The modelers and scientists claim the information is private property, even though taxpayers paid for the work and the results are used to justify energy, job and economy-killing policies and regulations. Uncle Sam spends billions more every year on renewable energy programs that raise energy prices, cost jobs and reduce living standards.

None of these recipients wants to derail this money train, by entertaining doubts about the “climate crisis.” Al Gore won’t debate anyone or even address audience questions he hasn’t preapproved.

As to claims of a “97% consensus,” one source is responses from 75 of 77 “climate scientists” who were selected from a 2010 survey that went to 10,257 scientists. Apparently, the analysts didn’t like the “consensus” of the other 10,180 scientists. Another study, by a University of Queensland professor, claimed that 97% of published scientific papers agree that humans caused at least half of the 1.3o F (0.7o C) global warming since 1950; in reality, only 41 of the 11,944 papers cited explicitly said this.

“Skeptical” scientists do not say climate doesn’t change or humans don’t affect Earth’s climate to some (small) degree. However, more than 1,000 climate scientists, 31,000 American scientists and 48% of US meteorologists say there is no evidence that we are causing dangerous warming or climate change.

Two recent United States Senate staff reports shed further light on other shady dealings that underlie the “dangerous manmade climate change” house of cards. Chains of Environmental Command reveals how Big Green activists and foundations collude with federal agencies to develop renewable energy and anti-hydrocarbon policies. EPA’s Playbook Unveiled shines a bright light on the fraud, deceit and secret science behind the agency’s sue-and-settle lawsuits, pollution standards and CO2 regulations.

The phony “solutions” to the imaginary “climate crisis” hurt our children and grandchildren, by driving up energy prices, threatening electricity reliability, thwarting job creation, adversely impacting people’s health and welfare, and subsidizing wind turbines that slaughter birds and bats. They perpetuate poverty, misery, disease and premature death in poor African and Asian countries, by blocking construction of fossil fuel power plants that would bring electricity to 1.3 billion people who still do not have it.

The caterwauling over climate change has nothing to do with real-world warming, cooling, storms or droughts. It has everything to do with an ideologically driven hatred of hydrocarbons, capitalism and economic development, and a callous disdain for middle class workers and impoverished Third World families that “progressive” activists, politicians and bureaucrats always claim to care so much about.

House and Senate committees should use studies cited above as a guide for requiring a robust pollution, health and climate debate. They should compel EPA, climate modelers and scientists to testify under oath, present their evidence and respond to tough questions. Congress should then block any regulations that do not conform to the scientific method and basic standards of honesty, transparency and solid proof.

Categories: On the Blog

NOAA and NASA Lied on Temperature Records

Somewhat Reasonable - January 19, 2015, 3:03 PM

During the 2012 presidential election, Rasmussen Report’s poll conducted between November 1st and 3rd showed 49% of likely voters supported Barack Obama and an equal number supported Mitt Romney. But by Rasmussen’s next poll, covering the November 2 to 4th time frame, the Governor led 49% to 48%.

This change didn’t result in great celebration in the Romney camp.

Neither were opinion leaders suddenly forecasting a Romney victory based on such a small gain. They understood that the margins of error of the surveys were greater than the supposed change. The apparent increase in Romney’s support may not have reflected any real change in public opinion at all.

Most people easily understand this concept during elections. But when it comes to climate change, the public’s appreciation of uncertainty seems to vanish. This is partly due to intense propaganda from official government bodies such as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

For example, last week NOAA headlined their home page, “It’s official: 2014 was Earth’s warmest year on record.”

NASA proclaimed in their January 16th news release video, “2014 was the hottest year on record.”

But these announcements are effectively lies.

NOAA’s own data shows that the record for the year was set by only four one-hundredths of a degree Celsius over the previous record warmest years, 2010 and 2005, while the uncertainty in the temperature statistic is nine one-hundredths of a degree, or more than twice the amount by which the supposed record was set (NASA showed a record being set in 2014 by only two one-hundredths of a degree). In fact, NOAA temperature statistics for seven previous years — 2013, 2010, 2006, 2005, 2003, 2002, and 1998 — are all within nine one-hundredths of a degree of 2014’s level.

So they all tie with 2014. No new record was set.

The same applies to NOAA’s announcement that, “December 2014 was warmest December on record for globe.”

December 2014 was one one-hundredths of a degree hotter than December 2006, the previous warmest December. But the uncertainty is seven one-hundredths of a degree, seven times the amount by which the supposed record was set. December 2003 was only one one-hundredths of a degree cooler than 2006, so the December temperature statistic for all three years — 2014, 2006, and 2003 — are effectively equal. No new December record was set.

Contrary to supporting the notion that global warming continues unabated, NOAA’s data reinforces the observation that we are in the midst of an 18-year pause in planetary warming.

If NOAA and NASA made a big deal of a temperature record set by a few hundredths of a degree, many in the public would laugh, appreciating that such small changes cannot even be felt, let alone present problems.

So instead the government emphasizes the amount by which the new temperature statistics exceed the “the 20th century average.” But to know this difference to hundredths of a degree, as they claim to do, requires that we also know the average for the 20th century to hundredths of a degree. And this in turn requires that we know the so-called global average temperature in each year during the 20th century to a similarly high degree of accuracy.

Historical climatologist Dr. Tim Ball, former professor at the University of Winnipeg, explains, “Typical accuracies of temperature measurements throughout the 20th century were between one and one-half degree Celsius. Therefore it makes no sense whatsoever for NASA and NOAA to claim differences from a 20th century average in hundredths of a degree.”

Ball explains that even modern “instrumental data is inadequate. There is are virtually no data for the 70% of Earth’s surface that is oceans.

There is practically no data for the 19% of land area that are mountains, 20% that are desert, 20% boreal forest, 20% grasslands, and 6% tropical rain forest.”

“So NASA just invents data to complete the picture,” continues Ball.

“They do this by making the ridiculous claim that a single station temperature represents all land temperature within a 1200 km radius region.”

So, it is not possible for NASA and NOAA to determine a meaningful average temperature statistic for the planet as a whole based on surface readings, as they pretend to do. It is only through the use of satellite-based instruments that we can hope to get a meaningful overview of planetary conditions. And satellite data shows that 2014 did not set a record at all, with computed temperatures statistics merely extending the current plateau.

NOAA chief scientist Richard Spinrad boasted in a January 16 news release that “NOAA provides decision makers with timely and trusted science-based information about our changing world…”

In reality, Spinrad’s agency is merely about PR spin when it comes to global temperature records. Science be damned.

[First published at the Pasadena Citizen.]

Categories: On the Blog

R.I. Unemployment Worse Than it Seems

Somewhat Reasonable - January 19, 2015, 12:26 PM

The old adage “numbers never lie” is true. Numbers can’t lie, but the people who use them can and very often do. Such is the case with the unemployment rate in Rhode Island.

When a falling unemployment rate in Rhode Island was coupled with a sudden loss of 2,600 jobs from September to October, Charles J. Fogarty, the director of the state’s Department of Labor and Training, talked-up the unemployment drop and dismissed serious concerns about the job losses. “[The number of lost jobs] got our attention but everything else seems to be working well,” Fogarty insisted. “So, it could be a statistical aberration.”

The DLT and others in the state who stand to benefit from improving employment figures see recent improvements in Rhode Island and across the nation as a sign of significant economic gains. Between June and November 2014, the Rhode Island unemployment rate dropped from 7.9 percent to 7.1 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Similarly, the U.S. unemployment rate also dropped — down to 5.6 percent — causing many political pundits to tout the alleged success of President Barack Obama’s economic policies.

What pundits both inside and outside of Rhode Island won’t tell you is that the real reason the unemployment rate is falling is not because the economy is improving; it’s because unemployment data are being tortured to fit a politically driven narrative. In other words, politicians and their sycophants are lying to you.

Although it’s true the percentage of people working relative to the number of workers considered by the BLS to be in the labor force is improving in Rhode Island and the United States as a whole, the number of workers in the labor force is shrinking to an unprecedented level.

In March 2010, at the height of the recession, the Rhode Island unemployment rate stood at a dismal 11.9 percent and the labor force included 573,930 workers. Even though the unemployment rate is down to 7.1 percent (with lower figures expected for the December report), the labor force has shrunk by more than 20,000, making it appear as though the economy has improved more than it actually has.

If the same number of workers were in the Rhode Island labor force today as there were in March 2010, the unemployment rate would actually be over 10 percent — a much less appealing figure for the Rhode Island Democrats who have run the state over that period.

Nationally, the situation is only slightly better. There are more than 92 million American workers aged 16 or older that are not considered to be in the labor force, which means only 62.7 percent of the population eligible is working or looking for work. This represents the lowest national labor force participation rate since 1978.

It doesn’t come as much of a surprise, then, that unemployment rates are falling; there simply aren’t as many workers in the economy as there were just four short years ago, and there is no sign the drain of available workers will halt anytime soon.

 

[Originally published at the Providence Journal]

Categories: On the Blog

The Founders Wanted a Laser-Targeted Article V Convention (Part 5 of 8)

Somewhat Reasonable - January 19, 2015, 11:12 AM

This is part 5 of the 8 part series establishing that the laser-focus of the Compact for America approach to organizing an Article V convention with the specific job advancing and ratifying a pre-drafted, specific federal Balanced Budget Amendment is clearly, unequivocally, and overwhelmingly what the Founders expected from the state-originated amendment process.

Exhibit E-Alexander Hamilton in Federalist No. 85

In Federalist No. 85, Alexander Hamilton said all amendment proposals under Article V, logically including even those originated by the sates, would be brought forth without “giving or talking” and “singly;” that “nine” states [two-thirds] would effect “alterations,” that “nine” states would effect “subsequent amendment” by setting “on foot the measure,” and he promised, “we may safely rely on the disposition of the State legislatures to erect barriers against the encroachments of the national authority” by using their amendment power under Article V.

Hamilton not only focused Federalist No. 85 on the argument that the Article V amendment process was superior to convening a second wide-open convention, his statements all anticipate the amendment-specifying power of an Article V application, which alone is entirely controlled by two-thirds of the states through their legislatures; as well as a narrow and preset agenda for an Article V convention.

[Originally published at Compact for America]

Categories: On the Blog

Heartland Daily Podcast – Jon Haubert: Responsible Energy Development in Colorado

Somewhat Reasonable - January 19, 2015, 11:00 AM

There is a lot of misleading information about hydraulic fracturing, also known as “fracking,” out there. Some of it comes from sources that are intentionally misleading, like the movie Gasland, but some of the confusion surrounding the process of hydraulic fracturing comes as a result of poor messaging from the the oil and gas industry itself, who for years allowed environmental activists to control the narrative around fracking.

Jon Haubert from the group Coloradans for Responsible Energy Development (CRED) discusses the role that CRED plays in helping the general public understand the process of hydraulic fracturing in a balanced manner that weighs the costs of developing oil and natural gas against the benefits derived from them. Haubert discusses some strategies for communicating the benefits of fracking to a general audience and share successes from Colorado.

Categories: On the Blog

Pope Francis Says Freedom Of Speech Has ‘Limits,’ Gets It Wrong Again

Somewhat Reasonable - January 18, 2015, 3:37 PM

Just two weeks after reports surfaced that Pope Francis plans to put significant pressure on global leaders to fight what he believes to be manmade, imminent global warming, the leader of the world’s largest church is receiving strong and worthy criticism from conservatives again — this time for suggesting there is a “limit” to freedom of speech in wake of the Paris attacks on magazine Charlie Hebdo.

According to the Associated Press’ Nicole Winfield, Francis responded to questions about the Paris attacks and the notorious cartoons and satirical articles published by Charlie Hebdo that inspired them, saying, “You cannot provoke. You cannot insult the faith of others. You cannot make fun of the faith of others.”

“There are so many people who speak badly about religions or other religions, who make fun of them, who make a game out of the religions of others,” Pope Francis said. “They are provocateurs. … There is a limit.”

France apparently agrees. According to CNN, French comic Dieudonné M’bala M’bala now faces up to seven years in prison for posting a Facebook comment in wake of the terrorist attack. He allegedly wrote “Je suis Charlie Coulibaly,” a combination of a popular French phrase in support of Charlie Hebdo and the last name of one of the attackers. M’bala has a history of making anti-Semitic remarks, and the French government is now claiming he should be charged with publicly supporting terrorism.

What the pope and the French do not understand is that freedom of speech is not the problem; radical Islamism mixed with violence is. This is not to say Charlie Hebdo’s disgusting jokes and cartoons about the religious beliefs of others were moral, but the idea that freedom should be limited whenever there is a chance deeply held beliefs could be “insulted” is an idea far more dangerous to a free society than anything cowardly terrorists could ever do.

If Francis is correct and speech ought to be limited, who gets to decide what permissible language is and what it isn’t? Which “moral” government agency decides which commentaries are too shocking or insulting?

The logical end result of Pope Francis’s comments is the majority population subjugating minority groups to whatever standards the majority determines acceptable. The pontiff can praise the virtues of liberty all he wants, but if he doesn’t support putting liberty into practice, his voice will ultimately be used to oppose freedom.

Pope Francis’s comments come just hours after Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) claimed responsibility for the terrorist attack on Charlie Hebdo that took the lives of 12 people. The organization says plans for the attacks had been in the works for several years, and that they were motivated by France’s “crimes” against Muslims. AQAP did not claim responsibility for a second attack on a kosher grocery store in Paris.

The “limits” on speech the pontiff seems to be suggesting, which may be nothing more than society choosing not to tolerate offensive organizations like Charlie Hebdo, is precisely what Al Qaeda and other radicals want: to create an environment where people are afraid to speak freely.

If freedom of speech is abridged — even if it’s only limited by society and not by some sort of legal restraint from the government — and other potentially offensive behaviors are forbidden as an overreaction to the horrific attacks on Charlie Hebdo, the terrorists win. French society will become slaves to whatever politically correct fad comes next, and the voice of the minority will slowly and surely be drowned out by popular waves of emotion and irrational attacks on liberty.

 

[Originally published at the Daily Caller]

 

Categories: On the Blog

Minimum Wage Mythology Will Hurt Workers

Somewhat Reasonable - January 18, 2015, 12:09 PM

More than 3.1 million workers across the nation received a late Christmas gift on Jan. 1, when minimum wages were increased in 21 states. Although the mandated wage hike was welcomed by many workers, they will soon find that their new pay raise will cause more harm than help.

It’s understandable why voters supported increasing the minimum wage. Living on $7.25 per hour—the federal requirement for minimum wages—is an exceptionally difficult endeavor, and it’s hard to imagine a family with children thriving with such little income, even if parents are working 40 hours per week or more. However, behind all of the compassionate slogans and well-intentioned protests rests a reality that sharply cuts through the many myths surrounding minimum wage increases: economics and common sense.

Contrary to claims made by advocates of the mandated increases, raising wages by less than one dollar will do little to curb poverty. In Colorado, for instance, wages increased 23 cents to $8.23, but that only means full-time workers earning the minimum wage will see roughly $9.20 (before taxes) more per week than they currently receive now and about $478 more per year, assuming the worker works all 52 weeks.

If current trends for inflation and the consumer price index continue at rates comparable to the past three years, those minimum wage increases will evaporate by the end of 2016—and this assumes the minimum wage hike will have no effect on prices in Colorado.

Ultimately, minimum wage laws do little to help impoverished workers, and basic economics explains why. When any market sees an increase in dollars available, prices for common goods and services, such as gasoline and groceries, inevitably go up. The reason for this is simple: If consumers have more money to spend, businesses will charge more money in the hopes of earning a greater profit.

For example, a small store in Colorado, where the state’s minimum wage increased 23 cents to $8.23, may employ 10 workers earning a minimum wage and working an average of 40 hours per week. With the passage of the new minimum wage, the store owner now has to pay his or her workers a total of $92 more per week than in 2014. The easiest way for a business owner to come up with the difference is to raise prices, which leads to increased costs for all consumers across the market.

Many business owners, however, are already charging what they believe to be the highest prices possible to stay competitive, which means owners must either take a profit loss themselves or reduce employee hours. Myriad businesses are even compelled to lay workers off.

Minimum wage proponents argue that such sacrifices may be necessary in order to keep an entire class of workers who can’t survive on a minimum wage from falling into poverty, but this myth fails to consider the many taxpayer-subsidized benefits minimum wage earners already receive.

At the federal level alone, full-time minimum wage workers with any number of children are eligible for both the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC)—$496 in 2014—and the Child Tax Credit (CTC), which combined with the federal minimum wage of $7.25 equals or exceeds the poverty level for all conceivable family combinations. This effectively means that no one working full-time on a minimum wage in the United States is actually in poverty according to the federal government, and the taxpayer aid they receive dwarfs the minute benefits minimum wage workers gain from increased pay.

Although voters’ desire to increase the minimum wage was based on an altruistic hope that the government mandate would lift thousands of Americans out of poverty, the reality is that no full-time minimum wage workers are in poverty by the federal government’s own standards, and even if they were, artificially raising the minimum wage will do little to improve their lives.

[Originally published at Human Events]

 

Categories: On the Blog

The Founders Wanted a Laser-Focused Article V Convention (Part 4 of 8)

Somewhat Reasonable - January 17, 2015, 3:18 PM

This is part 4 of the 8 part series establishing that the laser-focus of the Compact for America approach to organizing an Article V convention with the specific job advancing and ratifying a pre-drafted, specific federal Balanced Budget Amendment is clearly, unequivocally, and overwhelmingly what the Founders expected from the state-originated amendment process.

Exhibit D-George Nicholas’ Reply to Patrick Henry

On June 6, 1788, Patrick Henry raged against ratification at the Virginia convention.

In response , leading Federalist, George Nicholas, observed that state legislatures may apply for an Article V convention confined to a “few points;” and that “it is natural to conclude that those States who will apply for calling the Convention, will concur in the ratification of the proposed amendments.”

Notice how Nicholas’ conclusion is only “natural” with the expectation that the states would typically organize a convention with a narrow and preset agenda, and only after first agreeing on one or more amendments specified in their Article V application.

This is, of course, the foundational principle of the Compact approach to advancing constitutional amendments. Like and share if you agree and want to spread the word! And consider a tax deductible donation to our “Balance the Budget Now!” campaign.

[Originally published at Compact for America]

Categories: On the Blog

Capitalizing on Cheap Energy for the Long Term

Somewhat Reasonable - January 17, 2015, 9:37 AM

For the past several weeks, falling oil prices and a likely veto of the Keystone XL pipeline by President Barack Obama have been commanding the headlines. But something more significant has been lost in the commotion. Last year, the United States produced more oil and natural gas than any other country, allowing us to achieve virtual energy independence which has been an expressed goal of public policy since the 1970s. What’s more, American consumers are reaping a fiscal windfall as lower energy prices reduce the costs driving their cars and heating and powering their homes. Most American industries are benefiting as well, especially energy-intensive manufacturing companies that use oil and gas both as fuels and feed stocks.

American innovations, in particular the application of hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling in the nation’s many shale plays, are primarily responsible for our new-found energy abundance. Ironically, while total U.S. oil output has doubled since 2008, off-shore production has been dropping for the past six years.

Here’s another little known fact: The largest gas field in the nation today isn’t in the Southwest but in the North East. The Marcellus shale, which encompasses much of Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Eastern Ohio and the southern tier of New York, has become the nation’s biggest gas producer. And even though New York has banned hydraulic fracturing, the state’s residents nonetheless benefit from the drilling activity occurring on the south bank of the Susquehanna River.

The economic benefits from America’s shale revolution have not been limited to the traditional oil patch but have been spread widely across the nation. Thirty-two states currently produce commercial amounts of oil and gas, and though only about 350,000 workers actually toil in the field, the energy industry directly and indirectly supports more than nine million jobs across the country.

Cheap oil and natural gas are helping the economy in other ways, such as reducing our trade deficit and attracting foreign investment, especially in heavy manufacturing. Increased use of clean natural gas for power generation is largely responsible for reducing greenhouse gas emissions to their level of 20 years ago.

The shale boom has also helped revive a number of “Rust Belt” cities who are providing drilling equipment and oilfield services to operators in the northeastern U.S. And the Great Recession would have been longer and deeper absent the shale boom that started about the time the economy went into a tailspin.

Without question, the dramatic drop in oil and gas prices over since last summer is posing challenges to America’s domestic energy industry. The number of operating rigs, as well as new drilling permits, has been falling for the past two months, and several large companies have recently announced layoffs. At today’s prices, new deepwater drilling in the Gulf of Mexico may well be put on hold.

But oil prices won’t remain depressed forever. At present, every OPEC country, including Saudi Arabia, is running a budget deficit due to lower prices, an imbalance that can’t persist for the long-term. By contrast, the U.S. budget picture will be minimally affected by lower oil and gas prices while the International Monetary Fund projects a one-half percent bump in our GDP growth rate this year from cheaper energy.

Being the world’s largest producer of oil and gas gives America huge economic and political leverage, but only if we engage more fully in the global marketplace. To retain this leverage, while sustaining our oil and gas industry during a period of lower prices, we should quickly remove any artificial barriers to enhanced production. In addition to completing the Keystone XL pipeline, all restrictions on the export of oil and natural gas should be lifted and lease sales on federal lands and the outer continental shelf should be resumed.

[This first appeared in The Hill]
Categories: On the Blog

Heartland Daily Podcast – Sean Parnell: 2014 in Healthcare and Looking Ahead to 2015

Somewhat Reasonable - January 16, 2015, 4:49 PM

Director of Communications Jim Lakely talks to Managing Editor of Healthcare News and Research Fellow Sean Parnell about the past year in regards to healthcare and the obamacare law. They discuss the failures from the launch of the government healthcare websites to the lackluster enrollment numbers.

Lakely and Parnell also talk about the future of Obamacare and what 2015 may hold for the controversial law. They discuss the potential political battles that may be looming. Between the pressure to repeal and replace the afforable care act and the further implementation of said law, 2015 should be an interesting year for the subject of healthcare.

[Subscribe to the Heartland Daily Podcast for free at this link.]

Categories: On the Blog

The EPA’s Methane Madness

Somewhat Reasonable - January 16, 2015, 12:03 PM

The Obama administration’s attack on America’s energy sector is insane. They might as well tell us what to eat. Oh, wait, Michelle Obama is doing that. Or that the Islamic State is not Islamic. Oh, wait, Barack Obama said that.

Or that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is about protecting the environment. It used to be decades ago, but not these days.

There was a time when the EPA was devoted to cleaning up the nation’s air and water. It did a very good job and we now all breathe cleaner air and have cleaner water. At some point, though, it went from a science-based government agency to one for which science is whatever they say it is and its agenda is the single minded reduction of all sources of energy, coal, oil and natural gas, by telling huge lies, citing junk science, and generating a torrent of regulation.

Americans have been so blitzed with global warming and climate change propaganda for so long one can understand why many just assume that these pose a hazard even though there hasn’t been any warming for 19 years and climate change is something that has been going on for 4.5 billion years. When the EPA says that it’s protecting everyone’s health, one can understand why that is an assumption many automatically accept.

The problem is that the so-called “science” behind virtually all of the EPA pronouncements and regulations cannot even be accessed by the public that paid for it. The problem is so bad that, in November 2014, Rep. David Schweikert (R-AZ) introduced a bill, HR 4012, the Secret Science Reform Act, to address it. It would force the EPA to disclose all scientific and technical information before proposing or finalizing any regulation.

As often as not, those conducting taxpayer funded science studies refuse to release the raw data they obtained and the methods they used to interpret it. Moreover, agency “science” isn’t always about empirical data collection, but as Ron Arnold of the Center for the Defense of Free Enterprise, noted in 2013, it is “a ‘literature search’ with researchers in a library selecting papers and reports by others that merely summarize results and give opinions of the actual scientists. These agency researchers never even see the underlying data, much less collect it in the field.”

The syndicated columnist, Larry Bell, recently noted that “Such misleading and downright deceptive practices openly violate the Information Quality Act, Executive Order 12688, and related Office of Management and Budget guidelines requiring that regulatory agencies provide for full, independent, peer review of all ‘influential scientific information.’” It isn’t that there are laws to protect us from the use of junk science. It’s more like they are not enforced.

These days the EPA is on a tear to regulate mercury and methane. It claims that its mercury air and toxics rule would produce $53 billion to $140 billion in annual health and environmental benefits. That is so absurd it defies the imagination. It is based on the EPA’s estimated benefits from reducing particulates that are—wait for it—already covered by existing regulations!

Regarding the methane reduction crusade the EPA has launched, Thomas Pyle, president of the Institute for Energy Research, says “EPA’s methane regulation is redundant, costly, and unnecessary. Energy producers are already reducing methane emissions because methane is a valuable commodity. It would be like issuing regulations forcing ice cream makers to spill less ice cream.”

“The Obama administration’s latest attack on American energy,” said Pyle, “reaffirms that their agenda is not about the climate at all—it’s about driving up the cost of producing and using natural gas, oil, and coal in America. The proof is the EPA’s own research on methane which shows that this rule will have no discernible impact on the climate.”

S. Fred Singer, founder and Director of the Science and Environmental Policy Project as well as a Senior Fellow with The Heartland Institutesays “Contrary to radical environmentalists’ claims, methane is NOT an important greenhouse gas; it has a totally negligible impact on climate. Attempts to control methane emissions make little sense. A Heartland colleague, Research Fellow H. Sterling Burnett, says “Obama is again avoiding Congress, relying on regulations to effectively create new laws he couldn’t legally pass.”

As Larry Bell noted, even by the EPA’s own calculations and estimates, the methane emissions limits, along with other limits on so called greenhouse gases “will prevent less than two-hundredths of a degree Celsius of warming by the end of this century.”

That’s a high price to pay for the loss of countless plants that generate the electricity on which the entire nation depends for its existence. That is where the EPA is taking us.

Nothing the government does can have any effect on the climate. You don’t need a PhD in meteorology or climatology to know that.

[Originally published at Warning Signs]

Categories: On the Blog

CBO Report: Social Security Going Bankrupt Faster Under Obama

Somewhat Reasonable - January 16, 2015, 12:00 PM

At a town hall meeting in Columbus, Ohio in 2010, President Barack Obama ensured the worried audience that “Social Security is not in crisis.”  Obama was wrong.

Not only is Social Security in the worst shape it has ever been in, a recent Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report reveals the problem has grown significantly worse under the Obama administration.

In its annual long-term Social Security projections report, the nonpartisan CBO says 2013 Social Security costs exceeded income by about 9 percent, and that gap is expected to average 17 percent over the next decade. The CBO projects that by 2030, all Social Security trust funds will be exhausted, and unless income exceeds expenditures, “the Social Security Administration [will] no longer have legal authority to pay full benefits when they [are] due.”

The slow demise of Social Security trust funds should surprise no one, but what is disturbing is the rate at which the CBO’s projections for Social Security’s survival has dropped under Obama.

In August 2009, the CBO estimated the Old-Age and Survivors Insurance (OASI) and Disability Insurance (DI) — the two funds that compose Social Security — would be exhausted in 2043. The last CBO report for Social Security under President George W. Bush, released in August 2008, projected funds wouldn’t be exhausted until 2049.

The 13-year decline in CBO estimates for Social Security’s viability from 2009–2014 under the Obama administration represents a major failure by the president to solve — or even mitigate — a crisis everyone knew was coming.

“We’re going to have to make some modest adjustments in order to strengthen [Social Security],” Obama said in Ohio in 2010, but rather than strengthen the system, the president’s economic policies have contributed to its downfall.

Since his inauguration, Obama has implemented countless destructive taxes. In fact, taxes have risen faster under Obama than they have under any other president since the end of World War II.

The American Action Forum also found in its recent study that new or expanded regulations passed by the Obama administration cost Americans $181.5 billion in 2014 alone, and the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service found that businesses have been forced to endure 50 percent more “significant” regulations under Obama than under George W. Bush.

The irresponsible business climate fostered under the president’s leadership is reflected in numerous important economic indicators that help explain the increasing collapse of Social Security.

Although the misleading unemployment rate under Obama dropped down to 5.6 percent in December 2014, the civilian labor force participation rate for Americans aged 25–54 has fallen by more than 2 percent since Obama took office, which means there are fewer non-retirement-age people, relative to total population, paying into Social Security than in past decades. Additionally, real median household incomes have sharply decreased under Obama, and the number of Americans receiving food stamps is up by more than 50 percent since George W. Bush left office in 2009.

Add it all together and it’s easy to see why the nation has been left with a Social Security disaster — one so extreme that the CBO says the DI trust fund, which is responsible for aiding disabled workers and their spouses and children, will be tapped out by 2017.

Unless Obama swallows his pride and works with the Republican-led Congress to make serious reforms to Social Security trust funds, Baby Boomers around the nation are going to be stuck with ever-decreasing benefits in an increasingly inflationary world.

[Originally published at the American Thinker]

Categories: On the Blog

Friends of the Earth are the Enemies of Mankind

Somewhat Reasonable - January 16, 2015, 11:44 AM

It’s such a benign sounding name, Friends of the Earth. This multi-million dollar international organization is a network of environmental organizations in 74 countries. If its agenda was adopted and enacted much of mankind would lose access to the energy sources that define and enhance modernity or the beneficial chemicals that protect food crops from insect predators and weeds.

I am on FOE’s mailing list and the most recent email informed me and the thousands of others who received it that “the oil lobby and the Republican leadership in Congress are plotting a full frontal assault on our environmental protections…” I bet you didn’t know that the Republican Party was an enemy of the environment. That’s curious because it was a Republican, Richard M. Nixon, who created the Environmental Protection Agency with an executive order!

 

FOE was upset by the $1.01 trillion bill to fund the U.S. government for the coming year through to September. “What’s more, in a surprise giveaway to the super-rich, the bill raised the maximum contribution limit from individuals to political parties—opening the door for billionaires like the Koch Brothers to purchase even more seats in government.”

The sheer hypocrisy of FOE defies the imagination. No mention was made of the secretive “billionaires club” that was revealed in August in a report by Republicans on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. It was titled “The Chain of Environmental Command: How as Club of Billionaires and Their Foundations Control the Environmental Movement and Obama’s EPA.”  Didn’t read about it in the mainstream press? That’s because it was hushed up.

You may, however, have heard of San Francisco billionaire Tom Steyer who in February pledged to spend up to $100 million, half his own money and half from other billionaire donors, to get candidates who promised to pass anti-global warming legislation elected in the midterm elections. Steyer has been a leading opponent of the Keystone XL pipeline, but for sheer hypocrisy, Steyer made his fortune by investing in fossil fuel companies!

As far as FOE is concerned, only conservative billionaires are evil.

 

Categories: On the Blog

Will Gov. Snyder Drop The Ball on E-cigs?

Somewhat Reasonable - January 16, 2015, 9:55 AM

The Michigan Legislature got it right last year, passing bills to ban the sale of e-cigarettes to minors. Only a handful of states haven’t gotten around to this sensible, limited form of e-cigarette regulations.

Under pressure from activist groups who oppose this approach, Gov. Rick Snyder hasn’t signed the bill, and may veto or pocket veto it in the next week.

You read that right: So called “public health” groups have been lobbying governors and legislators around the country against bans on sales of e-cigarettes to minors. Why? Because bans on sales of e-cigarettes to minors make sense and are popular. So activists are trying to load up these bills with all sorts of nanny state provisions that would incorrectly treat e-cigarettes as if they were actual cigarettes. Then the activists could accuse opponents of the add-on regulations of supporting the sale of e-cigarettes to minors.

As a longtime anti-smoking policy expert, I have studied the issue of tobacco harm reduction at the city, state, and federal level.

Failing to sign this legislation would leave Michigan as one of the few remaining states that allow the sale of e-cigarettes to minors.

By definition, no reputable retailer sells e-cigarettes to minors, even without this legislation on the books. However, like in any field, there are unscrupulous actors. This legislation would properly make their actions illegal, and send a clear message that these products, which are meant for adult smokers, are not for minors.

There is a nearly universal consensus that there should be a ban on sales of e-cigarettes to minors. However, groups who seek Snyder’s trust have been advising him not to sign the bills. Instead, they seek to keep the sale of e-cigarettes to minors legal, until they pass legislation that rushes to treat e-cigarettes exactly like combustible cigarettes. For this, there is little support in the scientific community.

In fact, treating e-cigarettes like cigarettes would undermine a central tenet of the U.S. FDA’s approach to securing the potentials benefit of e-cigarettes, while minimizing any potential harm.

As the FDA’s chief tobacco regulator, Mitch Zeller, told the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s New Public Health, “If, at the end of the day, people are smoking for the nicotine, but dying from the tar, then there’s an opportunity for FDA to come up with what I’ve been calling a comprehensive nicotine regulatory policy that is agency-wide and that is keyed to something that we call the continuum of risk: that there are different nicotine containing and nicotine delivering products that pose different levels of risk to the individual.

“Right now the overwhelming majority of people seeking nicotine are getting it from the deadliest and most toxic delivery system, and that’s the conventional cigarette. But if there is a continuum of risk and there are less harmful ways to get nicotine, and FDA is in the business of regulating virtually all of those products, then I think there’s an extraordinary public health opportunity for the agency to embrace some of these principles and to figure out how to incorporate it into regulatory policies.”

Certainly, regulatory approaches to e-cigarettes, beyond those already underway at the Food and Drug Administration, will need to take into account what Zeller and others refer to as the “continuum of risk” among different products. Failure to do so risks unintended consequences that include discouraging smokers from switching to significantly less harmful products such as e-cigarettes.

Those who encourage Snyder not to sign the ban on e-cigarette sales to minors are seeking a range of potentially harmful regulations. Yet those proposals deserve individual consideration on their merits, taking into account the best science available. Those approaches do not deserve any halo from the consensus of banning sales to minors. Conversely, a ban on sales to minors should not be delayed because some groups seek to advance approaches that aren’t supported by science and may undermine public health.

In the meantime, Snyder should act to remove Michigan’s name from the quickly shrinking list of states that still legally permit the sale of e-cigarettes to minors.

[This first appeared at Pundicity]
Categories: On the Blog

Heartland Daily Podcast: Rob Bradley – What is the Biggest Threat to Energy Today?

Somewhat Reasonable - January 15, 2015, 2:37 PM

Rob Bradley, Jr. can be fairly considered one of the leading experts in the nation, if not the world, on energy issues, particularly oil and gas and renewables.  Bradley has written seven books including, Edison to Enron: Energy Markets and Political Strategy’s and an energy primer (coauthored with Richard Fulmer) Energy: The Master Resource and is the CEO and founder of the Institute for Energy Research, among the nation’s leading research institutes on the structure and regulation of energy markets.

Bradley briefly discusses the history of innovation in natural gas markets, why markets work better than government intervention in reducing energy poverty and what the biggest threats are to energy and thus economic progress in the world today.  Bradley also dissects the motives of climate change alarmists and the idea that renewables are the new, innovative form of energy for the future.

[Subscribe to the Heartland Daily Podcast for free at this link.]

Categories: On the Blog

Friends of the Earth are the Enemies of Mankind

Somewhat Reasonable - January 15, 2015, 2:09 PM

It’s such a benign sounding name, Friends of the Earth. This multi-million dollar international organization is a network of environmental organizations in 74 countries. If its agenda was adopted and enacted much of mankind would lose access to the energy sources that define and enhance modernity or the beneficial chemicals that protect food crops from insect predators and weeds.

I am on FOE’s mailing list and the most recent email informed me and the thousands of others who received it that “the oil lobby and the Republican leadership in Congress are plotting a full frontal assault on our environmental protections…” I bet you didn’t know that the Republican Party was an enemy of the environment. That’s curious because it was a Republican, Richard M. Nixon, who created the Environmental Protection Agency with an executive order!

FOE was upset by the $1.01 trillion bill to fund the U.S. government for the coming year through to September. “What’s more, in a surprise giveaway to the super-rich, the bill raised the maximum contribution limit from individuals to political parties—opening the door for billionaires like the Koch Brothers to purchase even more seats in government.”

The sheer hypocrisy of FOE defies the imagination. No mention was made of the secretive “billionaires club” that was revealed in August in a report by Republicans on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. It was titled “The Chain of Environmental Command: How as Club of Billionaires and Their Foundations Control the Environmental Movement and Obama’s EPA.”  Didn’t read about it in the mainstream press? That’s because it was hushed up.

You may, however, have heard of San Francisco billionaire Tom Steyer who in February pledged to spend up to $100 million, half his own money and half from other billionaire donors, to get candidates who promised to pass anti-global warming legislation elected in the midterm elections. Steyer has been a leading opponent of the Keystone XL pipeline, but for sheer hypocrisy, Steyer made his fortune by investing in fossil fuel companies!

As far as FOE is concerned, only conservative billionaires are evil.

“At Friends of the Earth, we’re working to protect people and the planet from Big Oil and its profits.” Translation: We don’t want oil companies to provide the source of energy that fuels our cars, trucks, and other devices that improve our lives. We don’t like profits because they are the result of capitalism.”

For good measure, FOE tells its supporters the “future would be great for companies like Dow, Syngenta, and Monsanto — but terrible for bees, butterflies, and people like us. Take away pesticides and all you have left are the pest insects that spread disease and harm food crops.

According to Wikipedia, “Originally based largely in North America and Europe, its membership is now heavily weighted toward groups in the developing world.” It’s the developing world that has been the focus of the United Nations greatest hoax, global warming, now called climate change, as a means to transfer money from wealthy nations to those less well governed, often because there is a despot or larcenous group in charge.

It is little wonder that FOE is upset by the decision of millions of American voters to elect candidates who want to rein in the excesses of the Environmental Protection Agency and take steps to improve the economy. Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is denounced as “a climate denier with close ties to the coal industry.”  He has made it clear that getting the Keystone XL pipeline approved by Congress will be a priority.

FOE’s email even named the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) as “a policy group that helps develop anti-environmental state laws across the country. Right now they’re focused on plans to erode the President’s Clean Power Plan and EPA’s ability to carry out its mission.”

What FOE’s email decrying Big Oil and Republicans doesn’t mention is that, among the elements of the 1,603 pages of the omnibus appropriations bill, is a reduction in the funding of the Environmental Protection Agency which received $60 million less than last year. At $8.1 billion, the EPA is operating on its smallest budget since 1989.

I would like to see the EPA eliminated as a federal agency and that funding go as grants to the individual state environmental protection agencies to address problems closer to those responsible to do so. As it was, the omnibus bill put a variety of limits on EPA “greenhouse gas” programs, some of which verge on the totally idiotic such as permits for gas emissions—methane from cows!

The bill also disallowed President Obama’s promise to give $3 billion to the United Nations Climate Fund, a means to take our money and give it to nations for “environmental” programs that are more likely to end up being something else entirely.

With its anti-energy, anti-capitalism agenda, Friends of the Earth are in fact enemies of mankind. They would happily return the planet to the Dark Ages. That’s why people like me shine a very bright light on them so you will not be duped in the way far too many others are.

Categories: On the Blog

How to Achieve a Balanced Budget Amendment

Somewhat Reasonable - January 14, 2015, 5:52 PM

On January 5, Compact for America Education Foundation President & Executive Director Nick Dranias was a guest on Michigan’s Frank Beckmann show. Sitting in for Frank Beckmann and conducting the interview was M. L. Elrick. Dranias discussed his organization Compact for America and their plan to fix the national debt crisis.

According to Dranias, the most realistic solution to resolving the national debt crisis in America is to pass a balanced budget amendment. Dranias uses historical precedence and quotes from the founding fathers to justify this potential amendment.

When advocating a balanced budget amendment, critics will argue our debt may be unnecessarily limited when facing a disaster or crisis that requires an increase in spending. In the interview, Dranias lays out an impressive work-around that would prevent this hypothetical scenario from occurring. Regardless of hypothetical situations, something has to be done.

The current system that we are operating in America is unsustainable. When the government’s spending is unconstrained, it makes it easier for politicians to promise seemingly unlimited entitlements. This causes our debt to balloon with no real end in sight. And eventually, this debt causes instability and dependence. On a whim, China – our largest foreign debt holder – could send our economy reeling if it drastically altered its bond-holding practices. This is not sustainable and is not something we should settle for.

Listen to the interview by clicking on the picture above for more information about the process required to create a balanced budget amendment and other details about the plan.

For even more information, visit the website –> Compact for America

Categories: On the Blog

Heartland Daily Podcast – Joy Pullmann: 2014 Education In Review and Looking Forward to 2015

Somewhat Reasonable - January 14, 2015, 2:47 PM

Joy Pullmann, managing editor at The Federalist and education research fellow at the Heartland Institute discusses some of the top education policy stories of 2014 with Heather Kays, managing editor of School Reform News. Pullmann and Kays also discuss what’s to come in 2015.

The issues Pullmann and Kays talk about include teacher tenure, the midterm elections, Common Core, the impact of teachers unions, and school choice. Pullmann outlines causes for concern as well as reasons to be hopeful in regards to education policy.

 

[Subscribe to the Heartland Daily Podcast for free at this link.]

Categories: On the Blog

The Founders Wanted a Laser-Targeted Article V Convention (Part 3 of 8)

Somewhat Reasonable - January 14, 2015, 1:58 PM

This is part 3 of the 8 part series establishing that the laser-focus of the Compact for America approach to organizing an Article V convention with the specific job advancing and ratifying a pre-drafted, specific federal Balanced Budget Amendment is clearly, unequivocally, and overwhelmingly what the Founders expected from the state-originated amendment process.

Exhibit C-James Madison in Federalist No. 43

In Federalist No. 43, James Madison emphasized that Article V: “equally enables the general and the State governments to originate the amendment of errors, as they may be pointed out by the experience on one side, or on the other.”

The most plausible way Article V could be viewed as “equally” enabling the “State Governments to originate the amendment of errors” as with the general government, or Congress, is if the Application of two-thirds of the legislatures of the States, which triggers the convention call, could also direct the Article V convention to propose desired amendments.

If you agree, like and share! And consider a tax deductible donation to our “Balance the Budget Now!” campaign.

[Originally published at Compact for America]

Categories: On the Blog

The Founders Wanted a Laser-Targeted Article V Convention (Part 2 of 8)

Somewhat Reasonable - January 14, 2015, 1:10 PM

This is part 2 of the 8 part series establishing that the laser-focus of the Compact for America approach to organizing an Article V convention with the specific job advancing and ratifying a pre-drafted, specific federal Balanced Budget Amendment is clearly, unequivocally, and overwhelmingly what the Founders expected from the state-originated amendment process.

“Exhibit B” linked below is strikingly powerful. It is a huge brick in the wall of proof that the Article V convention was meant and publicly understood at the time of the Founding Era to be an instrumentality of the states and subject to the states’ direction and control—as illustrated by the Compact for a Balanced Budget.

Exhibit B-Tench Coxe

“If two thirds of those legislatures require it, Congress must call a general convention, even though they dislike the proposed amendments, and if three fourths of the state legislatures or conventions approve such proposed amendments, they become an actual and binding part of the constitution, without any possible interference of Congress.” Coxe further explained, “[t]hree fourths of the states concurring will ensure any amendments, after the adoption of nine or more.”

These statements were made during the Constitution’s ratification era and constitute clear evidence of the public understanding of the function of the state legislative application in the Article V amendment process. Notice that these statements clearly indicate that two-thirds of the states would specify and agree on the desired amendments in their Article V application before any convention was called. If you find this evidence to be as powerful as we do, please like and share this blog. Also, consider a donation to our “Balance the Budget Now!” campaign.

[Originally published at Compact for America]

Categories: On the Blog
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