Monthly Archives: August 2007

Why The Ames Poll Is Irrelevant

The National Review’s John Podhoretz answers the question:

I hate to be nasty, but anybody who takes the Ames Straw Poll results seriously is an idiot. A bunch of people spent ludicrous amounts of money to bus-and-truck 14,000 people to a big picnic, and the guy who spent the most bought the win with a mammoth 4516 votes. Goshers! 4,516 votes! Another guy who spent a lot less than the first guy got some people to eat his fried Oreos to vote for him too — 2,587, of them, to be precise. And he’s claiming a big triumph and momentum blah blah blah.

This is ridiculous. The two leaders in the Ames straw poll received a combined total of 7,103 ballots. What exactly is this supposed to represent? If it’s supposed to represent superior organization, then the idea that Romney “did what he had to do” is laughable. I’ve heard reports that Romney has dropped as much as $4 million in Iowa already. And getting 4,500 people on a bus is all he has to show for it? What am I missing?

Quite frankly, nothing.

George Bush Inspires Robert Mugabe

Robert Mugabe, the dictator of Zimbabwe, a new law which broadly expands the power of his government to intercept communications and even read the mail. It is clearly a bold grab for more power, but, as Mugabe’s own spokesman points out, it’s not without precedent in the world:

Human rights lawyer Otto Saki  told VOA that the law interferes and undermines the enjoyment of rights enshrined in the constitution and is a sign Mr. Mugabe wants to consolidate his power by “any means necessary or unnecessary.”

But Communications Minister Christopher Mushowe said Zimbabwe is not unique in the world in passing such legislation, citing electronic eavesdropping programs in the United States, the United Kingdom and South Africa, among other countries.

You’ve got to know things are screwed up when a dictator can, correctly, point to the actions of an American President in an attempt to justify his own trampling of liberty.

Mitt Romney Wins The Ames Straw Poll

Considering both the amount of money he spent, and the fact that two of his top competitors weren’t actively participating, it should come as no surprise that Mitt Romney basically cleaned up in the Ames straw poll yesterday:

AMES, Iowa, Aug. 11 — With a convincing victory in the Republican straw poll here Saturday, former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney vaulted himself into the next phase of a presidential nomination battle pitting his traditional early-state strategy against a more unorthodox approach by national front-runner Rudolph W. Giuliani.

Romney’s win in the nonbinding Ames contest, sealed by his appeals to the party’s conservative base and generous spending all around the state, underscored his attempt to concentrate time and resources on the opening states of Iowa and New Hampshire, believing that early victories will propel him to the nomination.

Giuliani, who is at odds with GOP conservatives on abortion and gay rights, skipped the Iowa test run as part of a blueprint for victory that is less dependent upon winning the first two voting states. Giuliani strategists see a flock of big states holding their contests in late January and on the first Tuesday in February as the former New York mayor’s best chance to secure the nomination.

“Romney’s running a more traditional campaign to solidify social conservatives and economic conservatives,” said Scott Reed, who managed Robert J. Dole’s 1996 presidential campaign. “Rudy is not only trying to change the importance of the calendar but also trying to turn out a lot of moderates who don’t traditionally vote in these primaries and caucuses. . . . Giuliani’s strategy is not flawed — but it’s never been tested.”

The GOP race remains wide open, with many Republican voters disgruntled with their choices and support for all the leading candidates remaining relatively soft and shallow. That foreshadows five months of intensive campaigning before Iowa’s caucuses in January.

And here are the final results, courtesy of the NY Times

1. Mitt Romney –32 percent
2. Mike Huckabee – 18 percent
3. Sam Brownback – 15 percent
4. Tom Tancredo – 14 percent
5. Ron Paul – 9 percent
6. Tommy Thompson — 7 percent
7. Fred Thompson – 1 percent
8. Rudolph W. Giuliani – 1 percent
9. Duncan Hunter – 1 percent
10. John McCain (less than 1 percent)
11. John Cox (less than 1 percent)

A few observations about the results:

If Romney had come away from Ames with anything less than 30% of the vote, it probably would’ve been considered a loss for him. He invested a huge amount of money into a straw poll that has never been a good predictor of who the eventual nominee will be (in 1987 a guy named Pat Robertson won in Ames, and, in 1979, another guy by the name of Reagan only got 11% of the vote in Ames). If Giuliani, McCain and Fred Thompson had actively competed in this poll, I can guarantee that Romney would not have done this well

The relatively poor showings by Giuliani and (Fred) Thompson are meaningless because neither one of these campaigns was actively participating in the poll. Giuliani is still the man to beat for the Republican nomination, and Thompson, if he ever gets organized enough to enter the race, is still a force to contend with.

John McCain is a dead man. To come in, effectively, dead last among all of the declared candidates is about as big a road block as the Straight Talk Express could ever encounter.

Mike Huckabee in second place ? Who woulda thunk it ? At the very least, this means he’ll be taken more seriously than he was before. The same goes for Brownback and Tancredo.

Tommy Thompson threatened to withdraw from the race if he didn’t get second place at Ames. In response, most Republicans expressed surprise when told that Tommy Thompson was a candidate for President.

And, finally, there’s Ron Paul. While 9% may not be what his supporters might have hoped for, it is still a respectable showing and an indication that his 3% peak in national polls may be only the beginning. For anyone who believes in freedom, this could only be a good thing.

Hopefully, these results will be the beginning of a much-needed winnowing of the GOP field. With the exception of Giuliani and Fred Thompson, anyone who did worse than 5th place in this poll needs to recognize that they have no legitimate chance of winning the GOP nomination. And, yes, that includes you Senator McCain.

Originally posted at Below The Beltway

A Moment Of Hubris For Mitt Romney

Memo to Mitt Romney:

Before you celebrate your victory in the Ames Straw Poll, and the fact that you’re in the lead in Iowa itself and could very well win the caucus in January, consider this fact:

A source at the DNC reminded me of an interesting piece of history: the Iowa caucus is a great predictor who of who won’t become president. The caucus has only been the country’s first nominating event since 1972, and its record is pretty awful: George H. W. Bush in 1980, Bob Dole and Dick Gephardt in 1988, favorite son Tom Harkin in 1992, Bob Dole again in 1996, and John Kerry in 2004.

In fact, the 2000 election was the only time since 1972 that the non-incumbent victor in Iowa managed to win the presidency — and in that year, both parties’ nominees were Iowa winners.

So why are we paying so much attention to such a meaningless part of the Presidential race ?

Cross-Posted at Below The Beltway

Iowa Straw Poll Results and Analysis

The Iowa Straw Poll results are in

1. Mitt Romney –32 percent
2. Mike Huckabee – 18 percent
3. Sam Brownback – 15 percent
4. Tom Tancredo – 14 percent
5. Ron Paul – 9 percent
6. Tommy Thompson — 7 percent
7. Fred Thompson – 1 percent
8. Rudolph W. Giuliani – 1 percent
9. Duncan Hunter – 1 percent
10. John McCain (less than 1 percent)
11. John Cox (less than 1 percent)

Now before I give my analysis, let me this out first. I do not have a candidate in this fight yet.

1) Mitt Romney is a joke. He had 100 buses, over 1,000 volunteers, and actually poured lots of money in this straw poll and he only got 32% against a field of almost exclusively second and third tier candidates. This is a pathetic showing by someone who is considered one of the first tier candidates. Romney needed at least 40% to avoid a weak performance and he failed. I think this is the beginning of the end for the Romney campaign.

2) Mike Huckabee’s campaign should be celebrating tonight. They won the battle for social conservative hearts and minds. Their 18% showing is impressive. They came in second. The straw poll speech was excellent and moving. Mike Huckabee, to many of the undecided Republican voters becomes a real alternative to Rudy McRomneySon. The only questions are, can Huckabee capitalize on his success tonight and will the Club for Growth step up their anti-Huckabee campaign as a result of tonight?

3) It’s the end of the road for Sam Brownback. He lost the battle for social conservatives to Huckabee and he’s a Midwestern candidate who lost a primary battle in the Midwest. He will lose what support he has over the next few weeks to Huckabee and the other contenders. He should leave the race in the next few weeks and return to the Senate.

4) Tom Tancredo should also be happy about his performance. His performance shows the passion that Republican voters have stopping illegal immigration. If he came off as less of a lunatic and less of a white supremacist, he would have a shot at the Republican nomination. If he decides to go the third party route, which I think he will, he will be a threat to the Republican candidate in November 2008.

5) Ron Paul should also be happy as well. 9% for a candidate who only started spending time in Iowa last weekend, airing ads the middle of this week, had no serious organization, and was mired in controversy caused by some of their more fringe supporters with bogus lawsuits is not bad. Ron Paul’s speech was one of the best, content wise, of the straw poll. He earned a lot of respect today from GOP conservative voters by deemphasizing his anti-war rhetoric and instead touching on small government and values issues. He will also pick up sympathy for the rude treatment his supporters received by Laura Ingraham. However, Ron Paul will lose some of this newfound sympathy and respect if his supporters decide to challenge the results. Good news, I don’t think they will. What the Paul campaign needs to do is start working with GOP leaders and organizations instead of treating them like the enemy and start encouraging their supporters to become more involved with the GOP and reach out to GOP voters and restrain their more fringe followers like the 9/11 “Truthers”, the anti-Semites,

6) Tommy Thompson’s finished.

7) Fred Thompson’s supporters attempted to replicate Ron Paul’s spontaneous volunteer effort by renting space for a tent. There simply isn’t much passionate support for Fred Thompson, unlike Ron Paul.

8) Giuliani wins nothing, loses nothing. He’s still the front runner and will still probably win the Republican nomination. Not participating in the straw poll was a good idea.

9) Duncan Hunter’s out of the race. Unfortunately, he’ll have more time to try and start a bipartisan trade war with China.

10) John McCain’s campaign is still dead.

11) Who is John Cox?

I’m one of the original co-founders of The Liberty Papers all the way back in 2005. Since then, I wound up doing this blogging thing professionally. Now I’m running the site now. You can find my other work at IJ Review.com and Rare. You can also find me over at the R Street Institute.

The Media Floats The Draft Balloon

Today, on NPR, “War Czar” Lt. Gen. Lute was asked about whether he wants to see a return to government slavery, also known as conscription or “the draft”.

Here’s his answer:

I think it makes sense to certainly consider it, and I can tell you, this has always been an option on the table, but ultimately, this is a policy matter between meeting the demands for the nation’s security by one means or another. Today, the current means of the all-volunteer force is serving us exceptionally well. It would be a major policy shift — not actually a military, but a political policy shift to move to some other course.

What is interesting though is that he a minute before had been describing the manpower shortages bedeviling the U.S. military:

As an Army officer, this is a matter of real concern to me. Ultimately, the American army, and any other all-volunteer force, rests with the support and the morale and the willingness to serve demonstrated by our — especially our young men and women in uniform. And I am concerned that those men and women and the families they represent are under stress as a result of repeated deployments.

There’s both a personal dimension of this, where this kind of stress plays out across dinner tables and in living room conversations within these families, and ultimately, the health of the all-volunteer force is going to rest on those sorts of personal family decisions. And when the system is under stress, it’s right to be concerned about some of the future decisions these young men and women may make. I think our military leaders are right to be focused on that.

There’s also a professional and broader strategic argument to this, and that is that when our forces are as engaged as they have been over the last several years, particularly in Iraq, that we’re concerned as military professionals that we also keep a very sharp edge honed for other contingencies outside of Iraq.

So, the good general basically said that the all-volunteer military was under a great deal of stress, that a draft was not yet needed, but that the military wouldn’t have a problem with one.

This of course is 180 turn around from a few years ago when the senior officers were opposed to conscription.

Meantime the media had a very different take on the interview. Notice the spin:

Frequent tours for U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan have stressed the all-volunteer force and made it worth considering a return to a military draft, President Bush’s new war adviser said Friday.
“I think it makes sense to certainly consider it,” Army Lt. Gen. Douglas Lute said in an interview with National Public Radio’s “All Things Considered.”

“And I can tell you, this has always been an option on the table. But ultimately, this is a policy matter between meeting the demands for the nation’s security by one means or another,” Lute added in his first interview since he was confirmed by the Senate in June.

President Nixon abolished the draft in 1973. Restoring it, Lute said, would be a “major policy shift” and Bush has made it clear that he doesn’t think it’s necessary.

“The president’s position is that the all volunteer military meets the needs of the country and there is no discussion of a draft. General Lute made that point as well,” National Security Council spokesman Gordon Johndroe said.

In the interview, Lute also said that “Today, the current means of the all-volunteer force is serving us exceptionally well.”

Still, he said the repeated deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan affect not only the troops but their families, who can influence whether a service member decides to stay in the military.
“There’s both a personal dimension of this, where this kind of stress plays out across dinner tables and in living room conversations within these families,” he said. “And ultimately, the health of the all-volunteer force is going to rest on those sorts of personal family decisions.”

The military conducted a draft during the Civil War and both world wars and between 1948 and 1973. The Selective Service System, re-established in 1980, maintains a registry of 18-year-old men.
Rep. Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., has called for reinstating the draft as a way to end the Iraq war.
Bush picked Lute in mid-May as a deputy national security adviser with responsibility for ensuring efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan are coordinated with policymakers in Washington. Lute, an active-duty general, was chosen after several retired generals turned down the job.

Now, to my jaded eye this is quite interesting. The wire report makes it sound like the General was suggesting that there be a political debate to bring back conscription, when in fact he was declining to rule it out after the interviewer raised the subject.

Folks, this is Fabian socialism in action: Let’s say that these news reports prompt a furor. The General can point to his actual comments and claim, truthfully, that he didn’t recommend a return to the draft. Those who kick up a fuss about the draft are made to look stupid, and the idea will float in the back up people’s consciousness, ready to be raised again.

On the other hand, if there is no furor, then the debate will probably take place. In the meantime, the media has actually made a case that the draft is reasonable and a traditional part of U.S. history. In effect the wire report is an editorial in favor of bringing it back.

Why the change on the part of the Bush administration? The problem is that to continue occupying Iraq, they will have to continue to activate and deploy reserve units. This means middle aged people with families and mortgages will find themselves deployed 3 or 4 times every 10 years. This tempo is not sustainable.

I think that with this interview, the White House is signalling an interest in returning to conscription, because General Lute is lying about the ease with which the military can adopt conscription. Instituting conscription requires a massive change in a millitary’s doctrine and organization. Imagine you managed a business that made whiskey with free laborers, and one day the owner called you into his office and told you that he would be bringing in slaves to do much of the labor. Now, would you be able to put the slaves immediately to work? No. You would need to arrange for overseers to watch them closely. You’d have to put locks on the doors so that slaves can’t escape. You’d have to stop work periodically to count your slaves etc. The claim that such a change is not a “military shift” does not pass the B.S. test. The lie effectively torpedoes the most effective argument against the draft, which is that the military does not want one. In this way, the Bush administration could get conscription without seeming to agitate for it. In fact, given their unpopularity and political weakness, the only way they will get a return to the draft is by having someone else do the heavy lifting while they put up an seemingly ineffectual false resistance.

It is shameful that, over a hundred years after the U.S. government claimed that it had eliminated slavery within its borders, its officers are still infatuated with it and wish to bring it back. Slavery has no part in civilization, and it is high time that the U.S. government, and governments thoughout the world for that matter, abandoned this disgusting practice of systematically enslaving young men.

I am an anarcho-capitalist living just west of Boston Massachussetts. I am married, have two children, and am trying to start my own computer consulting company.

Ron Paul, Mitt Romney, And What Really Might Happen In Ames Tomorrow

Some almost-on-the-scene insight from Reason Magazine’s David Weigel:

I’m in an airport waiting for my (much, much delayed) flight to Iowa checking the latest on the Ames Straw Poll. While I’d been told by the Ron Paul campaign that there wouldn’t be a big ticket buy, the Paul team sprung for 800 tickets (you need one in order to vote) that are quickly being snapped up by supporters. The cost: $28,000. That’s enough to guarantee another romp over McCain, obviously, but Paul will need more than a thousand voters to buy their own tickets in order to compete with the make-or-break efforts of Sam Brownback, Mike Huckabee and Tom Tancredo and last-scene-of-Peter-Weir’s-Gallipoli charge of Tommy Thompson.

Paul supporters aren’t exactly broadcasting confidence. Voterfraud.org is suing to get the votes counted on something other than (or in addition to) Diebold machines.

Some sum-ups from people already in (or taking less languid methods of transportation to) Iowa: Marc Ambinder.

Weigel also links to this from the New York Sun’s Ryan Sager:

Rep. Ron Paul: Mr. Paul’s online supporters have made Web-based polls of the Republican primary essentially meaningless, swarming sites like the Pajamas Media straw poll and giving their man a 2-to-1 margin of victory over his closest competitor. No scientific poll, however, has shown Mr. Paul registering better than 1% or 2%, and it’s unlikely they can adapt their cyber-tactics to the real world. Paulites are already calling voter fraud, but any low showing is likely to be legitimate

As Weigel reports, Sager is predicting that Paul will come in seventh place, behind Tom Tancredo, but ahead of John McCain, who isn’t actively participating in the straw poll.

Individual Rights And The Right To Save Your Life

Earlier this week I wrote about a particularly outrageous decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia which essentially held that terminally ill patients do not have the right to use drugs for purposes not approved by the Federal Drug Administration.

Today, the Cato Institute’s Roger Pilon, writing in the Wall Street Journal, demonstrates just how tragically and unjustifiabily wrong the Court of Appeals was:

The wheels of justice turn slowly, especially for the dying. On Tuesday the D.C. Circuit, sitting en banc, reversed a 15-month-old decision by a panel of the court that had recognized a constitutional right of terminally ill patients to access potentially life-saving drugs not yet finally approved by the Food and Drug Administration. Given the poor quality of Tuesday’s opinion in Abigail Alliance for Better Access to Developmental Drugs v. Eschenbach — “startling,” said the dissent — one wonders why it took so long. The opinion’s one virtue is that it brings out clearly how far modern “constitutional law” has strayed from the Constitution, a document written to protect liberty, not federal regulatory schemes.

Represented by the Washington Legal Foundation, Abigail Alliance is named for Abigail Burroughs, a 21-year-old college student who died of cancer in 2001. Their argument could not be more simple or straightforward, nor could Tuesday’s dissent, written by Judge Judith Rogers and joined by Chief Judge Douglas Ginsburg, the majority in the earlier opinion. Citing the Fifth Amendment’s right to life, the Ninth Amendment’s assurance to the Constitution’s ratifiers that the rights retained by the people far exceed those named in the document, and the Supreme Court’s “fundamental rights” jurisprudence, Judge Rogers argued that the right to life, the right to self-preservation, and the right against interference with those rights — which the FDA is guilty of — are of one piece. They are deeply rooted in common law and the nation’s history and traditions, implicit in the concept of ordered liberty, and thus “fundamental.”

Indeed, it is startling, she noted, that the rights “to marry, to fornicate, to have children, to control the education and upbringing of children, to perform varied sexual acts in private, and to control one’s own body have all been deemed fundamental, but the right to try to save one’s life is left out in the cold despite its textual anchor in the right to life.” Because the rights at issue here are “fundamental,” she concluded, the court must apply, in judicial parlance, “strict scrutiny.” The burden is on the FDA to show why its interference is justified — to show that its regulatory interests are compelling and its means narrowly tailored to serve those interests.

This would seem to be especially true in cases such as this, where we’re dealing with people who, left only with the skills of contemporary medicine, are likely to die anyway. In such a situation, what justification is there for telling someone who is about to die that they can’t try an experimental therapy just because it hasn’t been approved by some bureaucrat in Washington ?

As Pilon notes, though, this case is about much more than whether the rights of the terminally ill. It has do to with just how screwed up Constitutional jurisprudence has become:

[T]he issues here go well beyond this case, which is doubtless why the court decided to rehear it en banc. And they go beyond liberal and conservative as well, as the mixed seven who joined Judge Griffith’s opinion should indicate. What we have here, arguably, is a revolt of sorts by Judge Rogers and Chief Judge Ginsburg against what passes today for “constitutional law.” Reducing that revolt to a simple question: Under a Constitution that expressly protects the right to life, how did we get to where government can effectively restrict the right, and the courts will do nothing ?

As Pilon notes, for liberals, the answer to that question is rather simple. Rather than worrying about fundamental rights and the intent of the Framers, they worry about sociology and economics; issues that ought to concern legislators rather than Justices

For conservatives, though, it involved a rejection of the Founders themselves:

[I]n Robert Bork’s The Tempting of America, where conservatives often turn, we find an answer. Describing what he calls the “Madisonian dilemma,” Judge Bork writes that America’s “first principle is self-government, which means that in wide areas of life majorities are entitled to rule, if they wish, simply because they are majorities. The second principle is that there are nonetheless some things majorities must not do to minorities, some areas of life in which the individual must be free of majority rule.” (emphasis added)

That turns Madison on his head. James Madison stood for limited government, not wide-ranging democracy. His first principle was that in wide areas individuals are entitled to be free simply because they are born free. His second principle was that in some areas majorities are entitled to rule because we have authorized them to. That gets the order right: individual liberty first, self-government second, as a means for securing liberty.

Yet we repeatedly see conservative jurists, as here, ignoring the true Madison — deferring to the legislature when their duty, as Madison put it, is to stand as “an impenetrable bulwark against every assumption of power in the legislative or executive.” A perfect example is Justice Antonin Scalia’s dissent in a 2000 case, Troxel v. Granville, which found that Washington State’s grandparent visitation act violated the right of fit parents to control access to their children. Dissenting, Justice Scalia argued that although the parental right is among the unalienable rights proclaimed by the Declaration of Independence and the unenumerated rights retained pursuant to the Ninth Amendment, that amendment does not authorize “judges to identify what [those rights] might be, and to enforce the judges’ list against laws duly enacted by the people.” Thus, just as the Abigail Alliance majority did, he would defer to the legislature to tell us what those rights are — the very legislature that had extinguished the parental right that he had just located in the Ninth Amendment.

And that, in a nutshell, is what Robert Bork meant when he infamously referred to the Ninth Amendment as a “ink blot.” And it’s also why libertarians who think they can trust conservative judges are kidding themselves.

The “D” word back in the news

A top military adviser is floating the idea of a military draft:

Frequent tours for U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan have stressed the all-volunteer force and made it worth considering a return to a military draft, President Bush’s new war adviser said Friday.

“I think it makes sense to certainly consider it,” Army Lt. Gen. Douglas Lute said in an interview with National Public Radio’s “All Things Considered.”

“And I can tell you, this has always been an option on the table. But ultimately, this is a policy matter between meeting the demands for the nation’s security by one means or another,” Lute added in his first interview since he was confirmed by the Senate in June.
[…]
The repeated deployments affect not only the troops but their families, who can influence whether a service member decides to stay in the military, Lute said.

“There’s both a personal dimension of this, where this kind of stress plays out across dinner tables and in living room conversations within these families,” he said. “And ultimately, the health of the all- volunteer force is going to rest on those sorts of personal family decisions.”

The New Inquisition

This is just too funny for words: NASA Global Warming Data had “Y2K Bug”

I say again, the concept of current anthropogenic climate change; except in the case of localized micro-climates; holds no scientific water.

Honest scientists will tell you the same thing if pressed (and if their funding doesn’t depend on it), but the agenda politics of todays science (admittedly on both sides of the political spectrum, but generally on different subjects), prevents real, honest, science from occurring anymore; or from being reported if and when it is (the record of suppressing global warming debunkers is long and shameless at this point)

The honest numbers are simple. Global temperatures have risen an average of less than 1 degree centigrade since measurements started being taken. There is no “sudden and precipitous increase”. There is no hockey stick; it was a lie, and even the climate change people have admitted it. The ice caps aren’t melting, in fact in most areas they are thickening slightly. The sea level isn’t rising.

Since temperature recordings have begun, volcanic eruptions have put more carbon into the atmosphere, and caused more temperature change than all of human industry; but it wasn’t by increasing temperatures with carbon, it was by decreasing them with dust in the air.

The world has been far colder than today at times when there was far more carbon in the atmosphere; even without more dust. The world has been far warmer than today with far less carbon in the air.

The amount of anthropogenic carbon in the atmosphere is less than one half of one percent of all carbon (the vast majority is released by soil, and rotting vegetation); and considering how small a percentage of our atmosphere carbon and carbon compounds (between 0.03 and 0.06 percent. Not between 3% and 6%, 3 one hundredths of a percent); that amount is completely insignificant to climate change.

All existing climate change can be fully and scientifically explained by natural endothermic cycles, and the fluctuation in output of the sun (because earth is an exothermic system). The suns output has varied greatly over the course of human history (and of course long before), and periods of warming and cooling have tracked right along with that output.

The climate IS changing, and has since the moment the earth formed a climate. As near as we can tell (through Ice core samples and the like) there has never been a period of more than 200 years without at least a 1 degree change in global average temperatures.

The climate will continue to change on its own; and nothing humans do will change global climate significantly one way or the other… unless it’s something that actually would kill us all (incredibly massive particulate pollution over a high percentage of the earths surface – including the oceans – would do it. It would trigger massive warming, followed rapidly by an ice age; and likely kill all crops and food animals in the process, along with at least 80% of humanity, if not more).

That isn’t to say we shouldn’t attempt to develop better sources of energy, we should. We aren’t going to “run out” of oil, ever in fact; a basic understanding of economics would show that; but, oil is going to get more and more expensive as time goes on, and petroleum based fuels are inefficient, and do contribute to micro climate pollution.

In many ways, doing things greener IS in fact better. Saving energy is generally a very good thing. Not polluting is generally a good thing. When it isn’t, is when it destroys economies, prevents job growth, reduces food production, increases food prices, and all the other ways that forced greenism (I won’t even call it environmentalism, because it isn’t doing the environment much good), causes pain, suffering, misery, and general reductions in peoples health, quality of life, standard of living, and basic liberties.

“Climate change” isn’t about the environment; it’s about giving financial and political control to anti-western, anti-capitalists. It’s about punishing those rich capitalist nations and people, for not being poor socialists. It isn’t science, it’s a pseudo-scientific political movement and near religion. The adherents don’t need any proof, because they have faith; and any who challenge that faith must be burned as heretics in their new inquisition.

I am a cynically romantic optimistic pessimist. I am neither liberal, nor conservative. I am a (somewhat disgruntled) muscular minarchist… something like a constructive anarchist.

Basically what that means, is that I believe, all things being equal, responsible adults should be able to do whatever the hell they want to do, so long as nobody’s getting hurt, who isn’t paying extra

The Insane Acceleration Of The Presidential Primary Season

Iowa. South Carolina. New Hampshire.

They’re all jockeying to find a way to enhance their influence on the 2008 Presidential race.

But now, it’s just getting insane:

South Carolina is poised to hold its Republican presidential primary earlier than Feb. 2, 2008, likely in mid-January, a move that is expected to push New Hampshire and Iowa to follow suit.

Such shifts could mean the first GOP nominating contest could take place in December of 2007, in just four months.

South Carolina GOP Chairman Katon Dawson will announce the earlier date Thursday during a joint news conference with New Hampshire Secretary of State Bill Gardner in Concord, N.H.

“We’re going to protect this battleground,” Dawson said of South Carolina’s historic first-in-the-South primary status.

He and his aides declined to disclose the date.

But several Republican officials with knowledge of probable scenarios say the most likely option is for South Carolina to hold its primary on Jan. 19, a change they say would lead New Hampshire to schedule its first-in-the-nation primary on Jan. 7 or 8, and Iowa to hold its leadoff caucuses as early as mid-December, perhaps on the 17th.

Quite honestly, it’s only August 2007 and I am already sick of the 2008 Presidential race. I don’t want to hear about another debate, unless, of course, it’s drunkblogged by Stephen Green, I don’t want to see another campaign commercial, I don’t want to see an Obama Girl, or a Romney Girl, or a Hillary Lesbian.

And if the primary season for 2008 starts before Christmas 2007, well, then, I think I may just have to send my write-in vote for “None of the above” a little bit early.

Seriously, though, I never thought I’d say this, but I think the idea of regional primaries is something we need to think about. Let’s start them in February of a Presidential election year and spread them out over a two or three month period (or longer if necessary). One regional primary for the Northeast, one for the Southeast, one for the Midwest, one for the Far West/West Coast.

It would seem to make a heck of a lot more sense than what we’re doing now.

Originally posted at Below The Beltway

Is Ron Paul Being Sabotaged By His Own Supporters ?

In three days, Ron Paul’s Presidential campaign will face a crucial test at the Ames, Iowa Straw Poll.

Admittedly, the straw poll will not be an accurate measure of candidate support in Iowa since at least two of the top three candidates — Giuliani and McCain — have chosen not to actively contest the Ames Straw Poll, putting the result itself in doubt.

Nonetheless, if Congressman Paul manages to get considerable support on Saturday or even, by some chance, win the straw poll, his campaign will be transformed to an entirely different level.

Over at The Crossed Pond, though, blogger Rojas is raising legitimate concerns over how some of Congressman Paul’s supporters might react if Saturday doesn’t go as they might have hoped:

One thing is certain, though: win or lose, some Paul supporters are probably going to allege vote fraud. That’s just the way the game is played these days

And, as Rojas states in a follow-up post, Congressman Paul has had the unfortunate luck of attracting some less than appealing supporters:

The problem Dr. Paul faces, of course, is that whether or not he’s done anything at all to associate him with dingbats of this sort, their active presence in his movement causes him to become their associate in the public’s eye. We’ve seen that already when the right-wing blogosphere went crazy about Paul’s association with “9/11 truthers”–when all Paul had done was speak with them politely.

I’ll be honest; I haven’t the foggiest idea of how the campaign should deal with this sort of thing. Ron Paul attracts outsiders; he draws people of strong convictions and unconventional views into politics. That’s the core of his appeal. By DEFINITION a huge portion of his support is going to be unappealing to core Republicans–hell, as a libertarian, I myself am probably too “out there” for the majority of the American public. And publicly disavowing the Jim Condits only draws media attention to them.

While I’m not sure I entirely agree with the idea that Congressman Paul’s libertarian ideas wouldn’t appeal to the Republican base, I do agree with the authors idea that the campaign has been hurt in the eyes of mainstream libertarian-oriented Republicans with it’s association with 9/11 truthers, JOhn Birchers, conspiracy nutcases, and their ilk.

Apparently, the Paul campaign recognizes the problem and has issued this statement:

Everyone who is calling the Iowa GOP over these diebold machines is doing a tremendous disservice to the Ron Paul campaign. Stop it. You are destroying relationships and turning the Iowa GOP against Ron Paul.

The campaign is taking every reasonable precaution we can to ensure a fair vote, and we ask that you leave it up to the campaign to speak with the Iowa GOP. They know Ron Paul supporters are not satisfied with the voting process, and any further phone calls only causes more problems for the campaign.

Focus your attention on turning out to vote for Ron Paul in Ames on Saturday as we are trying to do. Stop creating more problems than necessary.

Please spread this message far and wide within the Ron Paul community.

Thanks,

Jeff Frazee

National Youth Coordinator – Ron Paul 2008

And if Ron happens to come in third, or fourth, on Saturday, don’t attribute it to a conspiracy. Just accept it, and figure out what to do next.

That is what politics is all about.

It’s the Spending Stupid!

In the immediate wake of the bridge collapse in Minnesota, politicians (mostly Democrats) have advocated raising taxes to repair or replace other structurally deficient bridges throughout the country. Apparently, there just isn’t enough money in the treasury at this time to repair these bridges. Why am I skeptical that this is not the case?

Assuming for a moment that constructing and maintaining bridges and highways is a legitimate role of the federal government, it’s hard for me to believe that the treasury department cannot find the funds to repair highways, bridges, and infrastructure. Yet this same government can still find enough of our money to fund such things as the arts, public radio, public television, museums, midnight basketball, Amtrak, Americorps, subsidies, the war on (some) drugs* and a seemingly endless laundry list of other government programs and initiatives which go well beyond the scope of the federal government as defined in Article I, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution.

I have found Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) an invaluable resource when it comes to determining whether or not the government can demand more of our tax dollars. The CAGW website did not disappoint. As it turns out, my suspicions were correct: the treasury does have enough funds to repair the bridges and highways without raising taxes and still have plenty left over. What I found in this article was especially interesting:

The Federal Real Property Profile (FRPP) was created by the Bush administration in order to help federal agencies manage and dispose of their surfeit property. So far, the FRPP shows that the government owns and leases 3.87 billion square feet of property, and 55.7 million acres of land. Real property asset value for all these holdings is estimated to be $1.2 trillion.

One startling example of the government’s wasteful holdings is Chicago’s Old Main Post Office. This 2.5 million-square-foot unused structure has been vacant since 1997 and costs $2 million to maintain annually, yet the government continues to hold on to it at taxpayers’ expense.

That’s $1.2 trillion that could be put towards repairing the bridges or other priorities such as improving the VA hospitals, paying down the national debt, or Constitutional functions the government is actually supposed to fund. While $20 million over 10 years to keep this post office is small potatoes to our government, it’s not an insignificant amount to the taxpayer. How many families could have put their children in private schools, purchased their own health insurance, made a down payment on a home, or invested in their futures had their share not been taken at gunpoint to fund this wasteful spending?

And this is only one of many examples of wasteful spending of our money folks. Maybe when our elected officials decide to eliminate the pork, the waste, fraud, and the abuse, and if the government still needs more money to support the Constitutional functions of government, I’ll be receptive to the idea of them taking more of our money. Until that day comes, the idea of raising taxes is a complete non-starter.
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“The Constitution Is Under Review”

In Venezuela, that is, where Hugo Chavez is taking the necessary first steps toward becoming dictator for life:

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has confirmed that he will try to change the law to allow him to remain in power indefinitely.

Under the current constitution, Mr Chavez will have to leave office at the end of his term in 2012.

But he says he wants to remain in power for as long as Venezuelans continue to support him.

The constitution is under review and Mr Chavez is expected to make changes to cement in law his socialist revolution.]

The details have so far been kept under wraps, but Mr Chavez has confirmed what many people expected – that he will be seeking to remain in power continuously.

(…)

He said this is something that happens in many European and Asian countries and that it should not be seen as a threat.

Yes, European countries like Weimar Germany, and Asian countries like North Korea.

H/T: KipEsquire

Government — Prefers New Bridges To Fixing Current Ones

I’ve long been an avid reader of Coyote Blog. A while ago, he was talking about government’s propensity to neglect current infrastructure in the desire to get credit for new infrastructure, and the point hit me like the proverbial ton of bricks. Here’s what he said:

And as I have gotten deeper into public recreation, what I have learned has only confirmed what I wrote in that editorial. I have seen that when the government runs recreation facilities, it almost never spends enough money on capital maintenance and refurbishment. The reason seems to be that legislators, given the choice, would much rather spend $X on a shiny new facility they can publicize to their constituents than spend $X maintaining facilities that already exist. I laugh when I here progressives argue that private industry is too short-term focused and only the government invests for the long-term. In practice, I find exactly the opposite is true. Think about hotels, or gas stations, or grocery stores. Private businesses understand that every 15-20 years, they need to practically rebuild existing infrastructure from scratch to keep them fresh for customers. This kind of reinvestment almost never happens in public recreation.

Of course, it’s not a surprise, just something I hadn’t thought of. Politicians don’t get elected by spending $100,000 to put a new roofs on the pavilions at the park. They get elected spending $100,000 on a new park. And they’ll probably get their own name on the new park just to remind the people who forced them to pay for it.

When I thought about Coyote’s post and its relevance to current events, I saw an immediate parallel. Time Magazine, though, got to it before I could:

The forensic engineers have not yet determined why the bridge collapsed in Minneapolis, but the congressional porkers have made their diagnosis: Lack of money. Republican Congressman Don Young of Alaska complained that if President Bush hadn’t forced deep cuts in his $375 billion transportation bill, America’s infrastructure wouldn’t be rotting so rapidly. “I don’t do this often when I say I told you so,” he said.

Maybe we do need new transportation resources. But first we need new transportation priorities. Congress has to stop building new bridges to nowhere, and start fixing its old bridges to somewhere.

Out approach to transportation projects is almost as dysfunctional as our approach to water projects, which I wrote about last week. There’s no starker example than Young’s $375 billion bonanza, which he bragged he had stuffed “like a turkey.” The bill included more than 6,300 earmarks inserted by individual congressmen, including not one but two bridges to nowhere in Alaska – the notorious $223 million crossing to the island of Gravina, population 50, and a $229 million boondoggle near Anchorage known as Don Young’s Way. The entire bill was known as “TEA-LU,” an acronym for the awkwardly named Transportation Equity Act – a Legacy for Users, which only makes sense if you know that Young’s wife is named Lu.

Not enough money? Perhaps it’s just priorities. Or perhaps, it’s just what you’d expect when you have self-serving politicians doing what it takes to achieve their primary goal while they’re in office: remaining in office.

Some would suggest that it’s dangerous to leave things like roads in the hands of the private sector. They’re “too important”. But I would suggest they’re too important to let politicians get involved.

Is Ron Paul Basically Just Herding Cats ?

That’s what Clarence Page seems to be saying in his latest column in the Chicago Tribune:

Of all the interesting little fish swimming beneath the currents of the major candidates in this presidential campaign season, none ismaking waves as surprising as those kicked up by Rep. Ron Paul.

The Texas Republican, who embraces a libertarian point of view, has been riding an unimpressive 2 percent in the polls, but if the presidential election were held in cyberspace, Paul would probably win hands down.

Paul’s supporters flood online polls, such as the unscientific survey ABC News invited viewers to join after the Republican debate last Sunday. Yet, you could barely find the Texas doctor in the network’s after-debate coverage, despite the vigorous applause he ignited with his call for an immediate withdrawal from Iraq.

In endless e-mailings or phone calls to talk shows, Paul’s fans blame an insidious conspiracy to muzzle the “truth.”

So, why, Page asks, isn’t Ron Paul attracting more support, and, more importantly, more media coverage. His argument boils down to two points. First, at this point, based on the polls, there isn’t any realistic possibility that Ron Paul could win the nomination; therefore, his media coverage is minimal.

But then, Page makes this point:

Judging by my contacts with Paul promoters—in person and through e-mails—they seem to be largely young, male, independent-minded, leave-us-alone libertarians who like Paul’s tiny-government agenda.

Which leads to another reason why I think Paul faces trouble in moving his campaign to the next level of public attention: organization. You can’t win political campaigns without it, but organizing libertarians is about as easy as herding cats. Angry cats.

Well, notwithstanding my own well-expressed assessment of the likelihood of success, I can still say as a not-so-young, married, yet sill pretty independent minded voter that I support most of Congressman Paul’s campaign platform.

And, I don’t particularly like cats.

Federal Court Rules You Don’t Have The Right To Try To Save Your Life

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled today that terminally ill patients do not have the right to decide for themselves whether a potentially risky, but possibly life-saving, treatment is in their best interest:

WASHINGTON — Terminally ill patients do not have a constitutional right to be treated with experimental drugs, even if they likely will be dead before the medicine is approved, a federal appeals court said Tuesday.

The ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit overturned last year’s decision by a smaller panel of the same court, which held that terminally ill patients may not be denied access to potentially lifesaving drugs.

The full court disagreed, saying in an 8-2 ruling that it would not create a constitutional right for patients to assume “any level of risk” without regard to medical testing.

“Terminally ill patients desperately need curative treatments,” Judge Thomas B. Griffith wrote for the majority. But “their deaths can certainly be hastened by the use of a potentially toxic drug with no proven therapeutic benefit.”

In other words, if you’re dying you still don’t have the right to take the risk of undergoing a treatment that, while it could kill you, could also cure you. Your wishes, your life, your choice to take the risk that a new treatment might mean the difference between dying in a month and seeing your child graduate college…none of that matters, because the government knows better than you do.

One of the two dissenters, Judge Judith Ann Rogers, said the following:

Today, the court rejects the claim that terminally ill patients who have exhausted all government approved treatment options have a fundamental right to access investigational new drugs. The court’s opinion reflects a flawed conception of the right claimed by the Abigail Alliance for Better Access to Developmental Drugs and a stunning misunderstanding of the stakes. The court shifts the inquiry required by Washington v. Glucksberg, 521 U.S. 702 (1997), by changing the nature of the right, by conflating the right with the deprivation, and by prematurely advancing countervailing government interests. The court fails to come to grips with the Nation’s history and traditions, which reflect deep respect and protection for the right to preserve life, a corollary to the right to life enshrined in the Constitution. The court confuses this liberty interest with the manner in which the Alliance alleges that the liberty has been deprived, namely by denying terminally ill patients access to investigational medications under the narrow conditions described by the Alliance. The court conflates the inquiry as to whether a fundamental right exists at all with whether the government has demonstrated a compelling interest, when strictly scrutinized, rendering its restrictive policy constitutional.

These missteps lead the court to rely upon how rights and liberties have been limited and restricted — addressing regulations to prevent fraud in the sale of misbranded and adulterated medications or safety restrictions applicable to all medicines for any palliative purpose — which says little about the historic importance of the underlying right of a person to save her own life. . . .

In the end, it is startling that the oft-limited rights to marry, to fornicate, to have children, to control the education and upbringing of children, to perform varied sexual acts in private, and to control one’s own body even if it results in one’s own death or the death of a fetus have all been deemed fundamental rights covered, although not always protected, by the Due Process Clause, but the right to try to save one’s life is left out in the cold despite its textual anchor in the right to life. This alone is reason the court should pause about refusing to put the FDA to its proof when it denies terminal patients with no alternative therapy the only option they have left, regardless of whether that option may be a long-shot with high risks. . . .

It bears outlining the history and common law basis for the Alliance’s claim in order to demonstrate, once again, that the history and traditions of this Nation support the right of a terminal patient, and not the government, to make this fundamentally personal choice involving her own life. Because judicial precedents and the historical record require strict scrutiny before upsetting rights of this magnitude, the FDA must demonstrate a compelling governmental interest before its policy restricting access can survive.

Which brings to mind this particular provision of the Constitution:

The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

As well as this one:

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

Where, please tell me, does it say in the Constitution that the Federal Government has the right or the authority to tell someone who is terminally ill, or anyone for that matte, what chemical substances they can put in their bodies, and for what purpose ?

And, more important, where is the justice in a legal system where people who are dying are forbidden from doing everything they want to do to try to stay alive ?

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