“Permanent” today, Oblivion tomorrow

December 22, 2009

As the health care debacle careens toward passage in the United States Senate, many of its opponents (including some of my close friends) are convinced that should “Obamacare” actually get to the president’s desk, it will become the transformative event that irrevocably changes America forever.  Mark Steyn sums up this viewpoint well in The Corner: “. . . the object for savvy Dems is to get this thing passed in whatever form because, once you do, there’s no going back.”  Mark bases this on the experience of Canada, where he cut his teeth as a columnist (and still writes for Macleans).  There’s only one problem; when socialized medicine passed in Canada, it was done with the support of both major parties.  In fact, the Liberals and the Progressive Conservatives (as they were known) vied with each other to be the left-wing alternative to Canadian voters.  That is not the case here.

More to the point, in order for Obamacare to be a game-changer, it has to survive.  While I do not yet believe it will even get out of Congress (and Rich Lowry & Robert Costa explain why it wouldn’t in NRO), I further refuse to believe that it will be permanent.  Contrary to popular belief, American history is replete with “permanent” programs that were supposed to dramatically change America – only to eventually end up at the bottom of the Potomac River.  I’ll present just five below.

The Alien and Sedition Acts (1798): Passed by the Federalist-controlled Congress in the midst of war fever created by the “XYZ Affair” in France.  In fact, said war fever was so strong that the Federalist increased their majorities in Congress after passing these (which even at the time were controversial).  Vice President Thomas Jefferson (de facto leader of the opposition) was so worried about the Acts’ effects – and the Federalists using it to permanently ensconce themselves in power – that he helped convince two states (Kentucky and Virginia) to declare they had the power to invalidate federal law within their boundaries (the idea was met with derision in the rest of the country).  Then came the enforcement of the Acts, which even some Federalists believed was ham-handed, at best.  The revulsion of the American people ushered Jefferson and the Democratic-Republicans into power in 1800.  The Federalists never won another national election, and by 1820 they were finished as a national party.  The Acts were repealed in 1801.

The Kansas-Nebraska Act (1854): Hey, look!  Nebraska again!  Of course, the real controversy was that a new territory (Kansas) would be created and opened up for slavery.  It ended the Missouri Compromise of 1820, and was met with howling rage in the North (where roughly 2/3 of the voters lived).  The Democrats rammed it through Congress anyway.  Northern voters responded by electing anyone who claimed to oppose Kansas: Midwestern Republicans, New England Know-Nothings (who rather brilliantly played the Giants-Stadium-like wind shifts in Massachusetts to establish themselves as the antislavery party that year), and New York Whigs.  Despite this, the Democrats trudged onward.  In 1858, President James Buchanan insisted Kansas was as much a slave state as Georgia was.  By 1861, Buchanan was replaced by Lincoln, the secession of the South gave Republicans control of Congress, and Kansas was admitted as a free state.

Prohibition (1918): This one was actually popular when it was grafted onto the Constitution in 1918.  Its enforcement quickly became laughable, yet it stayed on the books long after it lost its support.  It even seemed to be approved by the voters in 1928, when the first anti-Prohibition candidate for President (Al Smith) went down to ignominious defeat to Hebert Hoover.  Four years later, Hoover was bounced, and under the watchful eye and helping hand of FDR, Prohibition was repealed in 1933.

Catastrophic Health Insurance (1988): I must say, this is my favorite.  It was the first supposed bridge to socialized medicine, and unlike Obamacare, it had bipartisan support.  Ronald Reagan himself signed this massive government expansion into law.  Then, as with Prohibition and the A&S Acts, the implementation sent voters (particularly seniors) into a rage.  One year later, that anger was enough for a Congress with larger majorities for the Dems and a president firmly to Reagan’s left (Bush the Elder) to reverse the decision; CHI was repealed in 1989.

Assault Weapons Ban (1994): In political terms, this is the closest to Obamacare – sure to cost the Administration and its supporters votes, but seemingly “worth it” from the policy perspective of the Left.  The ban was eventually passed as part of the infamous “Crime Bill” of that year, a bill with enough Republican support to take it off the list of issues that led to the Republican 1994 surge.  The law would sunset in ten years – right smack in the middle of the 2004 campaign.  True to form, the president running for re-election that year (Bush the Younger) insisted that he would sign an assault-weapons ban extension if a bill ever reached him, and his opponent (John Kerry) pushed for Congress to pass such an extension.  Congress refused to do so – among those voting against extension was none other than John McCain – and the assault weapons ban expired in 2004.

Five acts of legislation.  All were considered political game-changers.  All were expected to be chiseled into the foundation of American society.  None of them lasted more than fifteen years.

There is no reason to automatically assume Obamacare (should it even pass) will be any different.

Cross-posted to VV


Now that I’m out from under the snow . . .

December 21, 2009

. . . I can take stock of the latest from the global warming alarmists.

We have some evidence of groupthink, courtesy of Andrew Bolt . . .

. . . evidence that the IPCC head is in it for a lot more than the goodness of his heart, from the London Telegraph . . .

. . . and a very dangerous idea from UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown – also in the Telegraph (via Planet Gore, emphasis added):

Gordon Brown is drawing up plans for the European Union to become a global warming “policeman”, monitoring individual countries’ compliance with carbon-cutting targets.

The plan emerged from the chaotic Copenhagen conference on climate change, which ended in acrimony and mistrust between world leaders.

The summit was unable to reach a substantive deal on cutting greenhouse gases because of a row over how countries would prove that they are honouring promises to cut their carbon emissions. China in particular objected to any external monitoring of its actions.

Mr Brown and French President Nicholas Sarkozy now are working proposals for a “European monitoring organisation” that will oversee every country’s actions on emissions.

I mention this because I know many people who are convinced the United Nations will, someday, shake off its incompetence and impose global government on all of us.  I repeat what I have always told them: don’t waste your time with those clowns; keep your eye on the EU – when it comes to eroding sovereignty and self-government, they actually know what their doing.

Cross-posted to VV


A tax increase? Is he &%*!^%*# kidding me?!

December 19, 2009

In a move that was best described by Norm at TQ (a “rude gesture”), Tim Kaine is proposing to balance the budget with an income tax increase (Washington Post).  Virginia Republicans, led by Governor-elect McDonnell (WaPo) are already busy tearing it apart, but one thing that has been lost is the damage an income tax does to incentives to work and invest.  Especially in Virginia, which has a heavy technology sector, a tax that slwos down work and investment is a double-whammy.

One interesting factoid about this sent me into other directions (Richmond Times-Dispatch):

Virginia’s income tax, currently 5.75 percent, has not been raised since 1972.

Two things jumped out at me.  First, that Kaine basically got this idea from the last Governor who did it – his father-in-law, Linwood Holton.

Secondly, Holton just happens to be the first Republican elected Governor in the history of Virginia (a Readjuster was elected in 1881 and called himself a Republican in 1884).  In my travels as a candidate for office, I found legions of older Spotsylvanians who opposed tax increases and runaway spending – and supported me – while still calling themselves Democrats.  Now I know why.

Cross-posted to VV


Now, about that EPA finding . . .

December 19, 2009

The end of the Copenhagen nonsense will bring more attention to Washington, in particular the EPA finding that carbon dioxide is a pollutant.  Many Democrats are hoping the EPA finding will pressure Congress into passing cap-and-tax, while others see the potential for the EPA running the show and seeing that as the best outcome.

However, as Stephen F. Hayward notes in the Weekly Standard, the EPA ruling is a political minefield for the alarmists, one that could block actual regulation for years – and give skeptics plenty of time to ensure it never happens – while the “science” behind it continues its collapse.

After all, Copenhagen was supposed to be the moment global warming succumbed to “global governance” – and we know how that turned out.

Cross-posted to VV


From Copenhagen to Nopenhagen

December 19, 2009

The good news is the alarmists are furious (Washington Post).  The bad news is the president has a pretense of an “agreement” (WaPo) to browbeat Congress or justify EPA regulation.

The politics of this have shifted slightly in the alarmists favor here, but not nearly enough to be of any significance once the impact of Climategate is fully felt.  Outside the US, the “deal” means nothing (Andrew Bolt).

All in all, the conference was about as good as it could get for AGW skeptics.

Cross-posted to VV


Скройте снижение, Часть 2

December 17, 2009

Andrei Illiaranov, founder of Moscow’s Institute for Economic Analysis, senior fellow at the CATO Institute (h/t Planet Gore), and former economic adviser to Vladimir Putin, comments on the IEA climate data study (emphasis added):

The IEA report shows that Russian meteorological-station data in the last 130 years did not substantiate the rate of warming on Russian territory suggested by the Hadley Climate Research Unit Temperature (HadCRUT) database, which has now been partially released.

IEA analysts point out that Russian meteorological stations cover most of the country’s territory, while the HadCRUT used data from only 25% of such stations in their calculations. Over 40% of Russian territory was not included in their global temperature calculations even though there was no lack of meteorological stations and observations. The data of stations located in areas not listed in the HadCRUT survey often shows slight cooling or no substantial warming in the second part of the 20th century and the early 21st century.

. . .

On the whole, HadCRUT specialists use the incomplete findings of meteorological stations far more often than those providing complete observations. IEA analysts found that the climatologists used the data of stations located in large populated centers that are influenced by the “urban heat effect” more frequently than the unbiased data from the stations located in less populated places.

The IEA authors calculated that the scale of actual warming for the Russian territory in 1877-1998 was probably exaggerated by 0.64°C. Since Russia accounts for 12.5% of the world’s land mass, such an exaggeration for Russia alone should have an impact on the IPCC claim that the global temperature in the last century has risen by 0.76°C.

. . .

The IEA report concludes that it is necessary to recalculate all global temperature data in order to assess the real rate of temperature change during the last century. Global temperature data will have to be modified because the calculations used by Copenhagen Conference on Climate Change analysts are based on HadCRUT research.

In other words, the entire global warming apparatus has been built upon sand.  All of the delegates in Copenhagen are relying on a model that is at best deeply flawed and, given the evidence above, more likely an outright fraud.

This is so big that, of course, MSM must ignore it at all costs, except for NPR – of all places!

Cross-posted to VV


скройте снижение (обновленный и ударенный)

December 17, 2009

Acccording to this translation website, the above is Russian for “hide the decline” (UPDATE: the parenthetical piece is “updated and bumped”), and according to Kommersant (cited by RiaNovosti and then SDA and WUWT), that’s exactly what was done to Russian temperature data (emphasis added):

Climategate has already affected Russia. On Tuesday, the Moscow-based Institute of Economic Analysis (IEA) issued a report claiming that the Hadley Center for Climate Change based at the headquarters of the British Meteorological Office in Exeter (Devon, England) had probably tampered with Russian-climate data.

The IEA believes that Russian meteorological-station data did not substantiate the anthropogenic global-warming theory.

Analysts say Russian meteorological stations cover most of the country’s territory, and that the Hadley Center had used data submitted by only 25% of such stations in its reports.

Over 40% of Russian territory was not included in global-temperature calculations for some other reasons, rather than the lack of meteorological stations and observations.

The data of stations located in areas not listed in the Hadley Climate Research Unit Temperature UK (HadCRUT) survey often does not show any substantial warming in the late 20th century and the early 21st century.

Russia was one of the very few places that seemed to still be warming as the rest of the world levelled off this decade – and now we know why: the data was “probably tampered with.”

This also marks Asia as the fourth continent where data has been fudged (the others are North America, Australia, and Antarctica).

UPDATE: As James Delingpole notes in the London Telegraph, this is about a lot more than just Russia:

What the Russians are suggesting here, in other words, is that the entire global temperature record used by the IPCC to inform world government policy is a crock.

Back to the Kommersant account to explain why (emphasis added):

The scale of global warming was exaggerated due to temperature distortions for Russia accounting for 12.5% of the world’s land mass. The IEA said it was necessary to recalculate all global-temperature data in order to assess the scale of such exaggeration.

Global-temperature data will have to be modified if similar climate-date procedures have been used from other national data because the calculations used by COP15 analysts, including financial calculations, are based on HadCRUT research.

For the mathematically challenged, 12.5% is one-eighth.  That’s enough to tilt the entire model.  We now have evidence that the global warming alarmism is, indeed, fraudulent.

This is huge – which, of course, means no one in MSM will cover it.  It’s up to us, in the blogosphere – again – to inform the American people, which is why I’m bumping this to ensure more readers are aware of just how dramatic this is.

Cross-posted (with slight modification) to VV


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