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Libya and Iraq: Both Obama’s Fault

February 25, 2015 By: Scott Spiegel Category: War on Terror

promises-to-withdraw-from-iraq-starts-war-with-libya-insteadOn Sunday’s Meet the Press, Professor Alan J. Kuperman of the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs and the Nuclear Proliferation Prevention Project explained the current mess in Libya with this absurd analogy: “What George W. Bush did to Iraq is the same thing that President Barack Obama did to Libya. That is, he took a state that was stable, that was an ally in the war on terror, and went in with a military intervention, and destroyed the state.”

There’s nothing especially wrong with Kuperman’s comparison other than everything.

Consider the gross dissimilarities between Obama’s actions in Libya and Bush’s actions in Iraq:

  • In spring 2011, there was no national consensus for Obama to conduct air raids to support the Libyan rebels. In contrast, President Bush had gone through the painstaking process of allowing Iraqi President Saddam Hussein to ignore repeated United Nations Security Council resolutions requiring him to undergo weapons inspections, all while building a coalition of scores of nations that sent troops to help fight Hussein and a strong majority of supportive Senators in both parties including Hillary Clinton. This followed years of growing international concern over Hussein’s having violated dozens of similar UN resolutions.
  • Obama’s unilateral actions led an outraged House to pass three bipartisan resolutions, the first condemning him for failing to provide a compelling rationale for the air strikes and forbidding him from continuing to do so without a clear justification, the second calling for a withdrawal of U.S. air and naval forces from Libya, and the third defunding the Libyan conflict. It also led to a bipartisan lawsuit against the President led by three Democrats and seven Republicans. In contrast, Bush sought and received a formal, comprehensive authorization for the war in Iraq before sending troops in.
  • Obama didn’t win the conflict in Libya, whose regime change was a byproduct of the trendy but disastrous Arab Spring. The conflict’s greatest, most superficial moment of triumph came when Secretary of State Hillary Clinton lamely chanted of Moammar Gadhafi, “We came, we saw, he died!” Libya’s supposedly moderate rebels turned out to be radical jihadists, and now Libya is such a mess that counterterrorism experts call it “the Somalia of the Mediterranean.” In contrast, after an unfortunate slow start, Bush ordered the 2007 troop surge that halted insurgent violence and left Iraq with its first-ever free elections. (By the way, Libya only became an ally in the war on terror because of Bush’s success in Iraq.)
  • Obama toyed with other Middle Eastern nations, suggesting by his actions that he would help neighboring moderate rebels such as Syria’s, whom he ultimately let down. In contrast, Bush focused on Iraq, following through on his commitment to the Iraqi people to win a war he had started, and leaving in place and augmenting the troops he had placed in Iraq until the insurgents had fled and stability had been restored.
  • Obama didn’t leave Libya a peaceful, stable democracy. Libya got into worse hands than Gadhafi’s after Obama’s air strikes. After spreading through Syria and grabbing large swaths of Iraqi territory, ISIS is now capturing Libyan territory and staging mass beheadings of Egyptian Coptic Christians to show their dominance in the region. In contrast, Bush left Iraq a stable democracy with free elections, and Iraq become a model for democratic governance throughout the Middle East.
  • The media didn’t harp incessantly on Obama’s disastrous mess in Libya, why he should be convicted of war crimes, why he should be impeached, etc. Filmmakers didn’t shoot movies fantasizing about his assassination; protestors didn’t hang him in effigy. In contrast, the media and leftist agitators did all of this and more to Bush, undermining his and the U.S.’s authority to take decisive action to bring the Iraq War to a successful finish.
  • Obama won’t suffer the spectacle of his successor losing the peace in Libya and turning it into a hellhole more dangerous than before. That’s because Obama already intervened and turned Libya into a hellhole even more dangerous than before. In contrast, Bush’s successor (Obama) failed to push for a status of forces agreement that would have allowed us to keep troops in Iraq, and gleefully plucked every last one of them from the country while making a big, Bush-taunting spectacle of it. Then ISIS moved in and stole U.S.-supplied weapons from a terrified, unsupported Iraqi army. Now Obama is stuck trying to figure out how to fight a group even more deadly than al-Qaeda without officially sending U.S. combat troops back in.

The only thing Libya and Iraq have in common is that both were “wars of choice.” Iraq wasn’t the perfect choice after 9/11—Iran would have been—but Bush made the most of his imperfect policy decision. But Libya was one of the poorest choices Obama could have made. And the poorest choice of all in the entire war on terror was Obama’s decision to loudly proclaim his intention to remove all troops from Iraq and leave it completely undefended.

I take it back: The Libyan and Iraqi failures have one other thing in common. They’re both Obama’s fault.

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Calling All Libertarian Hawks

February 18, 2015 By: Scott Spiegel Category: Miscellaneous

2000px-Nolan-chart.svgRecently I changed this website’s URL from my name to LibertarianHawk.com. This was motivated by a couple of factors: (1) I don’t need Google searches for my name interfering with my day job and (2) no one recognizes me anyway.

But the main reason is that I was tired of not having a good answer when people asked me to label my political beliefs.

I would—and often do—call myself a conservative, because I have a free-market orientation and a preference for strong national defense and law enforcement. However, I don’t favor government imposing a religion-based morality on social issues.

I would call myself a libertarian, but libertarians have a weirdly isolationist stance on national defense, and often oppose even government-run domestic police forces. Also, the de facto leaders of the libertarian movement are Ron and Rand Paul, which is about all I need to say.

I would call myself a liberal, except that I side with liberals only on the quadfecta of abortion, gay marriage, immigration, and drug legalization. Even then, I have my doubts about the lack of principle undergirding many liberals’ positions on these social issues, and the extent to which they promote the views they do merely to “subvert the power structure.” Also, I find the techniques liberals favor for political activism abhorrent, their methods of argumentation juvenile, their intolerance of dissent embarrassing, and their contempt for their opponents appalling. Finally, they’re as isolationist as libertarians and even more likely to give aid and comfort to the enemy. (Libertarians, in contrast, can’t be bothered to give aid and comfort to either side.)

Now that I’ve stumbled upon an appropriate self-label, my question is, why did it take so long—and why isn’t there a term for people with my not especially complicated configuration of beliefs? (Should it go without saying that the domain names “LibertarianHawk” and “HawkishLibertarian” were wide open and free for the taking?) Those of us with a libertarian bent are frustrated that Republicans conflate conservative positions on economics with conservative positions on social issues, and Democrats conflate liberal positions on social issues with liberal positions on economic issues. But why do so many libertarians conflate pro-freedom positions on economic and social issues with impotent stances on national defense and law enforcement?

I admire political and philosophical consistency, and I suppose conservatives and liberals practice their own sort of consistency, in that each believes that one of the two main areas of public life—economic or social—should be relatively unregulated by government, whereas government should control the other one. It’s a shallow consistency, but at least we should be grateful that there isn’t a major party that believes government should control both our economic and social lives.

And lately I think I finally understand why so many libertarians also clamor for government to stay out of international conflicts and policing.

I suspect many libertarians believe that the freedom to live our lives the way we want means making allowances for countries or citizens who don’t believe in those freedoms. If libertarians believe we shouldn’t tell other people how to spend their money or regulate their bodies, then who are we to tell people what type of government to favor? Who are we to send men with guns onto our streets to order people around?

That makes some superficial sense—except that in order to be able to protect the freedoms we have in our economic and social lives, we need a framework in which to protect those freedoms. We can’t stand by if foreign governments threaten the safety of our citizens or allies, no matter how willing we are to leave those countries free to fail in running their internal affairs. And we can’t allow citizens to initiate force or fraud against others, no matter how much we may be willing to let everyday Americans make poor choices that hurt their records.

Ironically, being freedom lovers means we have to be vigilant in protecting those freedoms. This assertion isn’t some kind of Orwellian formulation—PROTECTION = FREEDOM—because it doesn’t demand that we protect everyone from everything, only that we protect a closed system in which all other freedoms can flourish. Once we’ve done that, the sky’s the limit.

It will be encouraging when more Americans see the consistency in promoting freedom in both the economic and social realms, and even more encouraging when they don’t make the mistake of assuming that such freedoms can be maintained with zero risk of outsiders taking them away. In the meantime, I hope my site’s new name—or something similar—takes off in the political lexicon as a way to frame and crystallize these ideas.

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A Liberal History of the United States

February 11, 2015 By: Scott Spiegel Category: Miscellaneous

hippie-history-protest-signsPresident Obama recently reassured Americans of his unwavering commitment to the U.S.’s war against the Islamic State by scolding Christians at a National Prayer Breakfast that their faith is just as violent as Islam because of the Crusades a millennium ago.

Conservative pundits who know something about the Crusades immediately corrected Obama’s revisionist history, pointing out that the Crusades—which happened so long ago that Europe hadn’t even discovered gunpowder—were defensive actions against a barbaric and aggressive encroaching Muslim caliphate.

Obama’s gaffe is nothing new: liberals always get history wrong, because they instinctively leap to defend the actions of the most corrupt or evil side in any conflict. But they aren’t only wrong about military history.

In a smarmy piece published several years ago (too good not to revisit in light of Obama’s remarks) titled “A Conservative History of the United States,” The New Yorker contributor Jack Hitt thought he had hit comedy gold when he produced a compilation of prominent conservatives’ supposedly ridiculous comments on historical events from the American Revolution to the Iraq War.

In fact, a majority of the “mistruths” Hitt presented were entirely true, mostly true, or grounded in enough evidence that they could easily be classified as viable interpretations of controversial issues. (Appropriately, Hitt recently starred in a one-man stand-up show called “Making Up the Truth.”)

How far off the mark was Hitt? Even his liberal readers couldn’t let him get away with such a spectacular failure of fact-checking, as revealed by dozens of commenters who demolished his attacks one by one. They probably didn’t realize that while their individual critiques would make them look smart, their collective corrections would make him look like an idiot.

Behold a tiny sampling of the wild and crazy misstatements Hitt attributed to conservatives:

1607: First welfare state collapses: “Jamestown colony, when it was first founded as a socialist venture, dang near failed with everybody dead and dying in the snow.”—Dick Armey

The first Pilgrim colony in Massachusetts was set up as a collectivist system, failed miserably, and plunged into plague and famine. After several years, settlers incorporated private-property-oriented provisions into their charter, and the colony soon thrived. Armey’s interpretation is 100% correct.

1787: Slavery is banned in the Constitution: “We also know that the very founders that wrote those documents worked tirelessly until slavery was no more in the United States.”—Michele Bachmann

Most of the Founders felt deeply uncomfortable about slavery, as evidenced by quotes as early as a century before the Civil War in which they called the institution “diabolical,” “disgraceful,” “abhorrent,” “oppressive,” “lamentable,” and “evil.” But the Founders knew they were never going to abolish slavery concomitant with the signing of the Constitution, when it was still legal in half the states, so they planted seeds in its language that led to slavery’s eventual abolition.

1812: The American War for Independence ends: “‘The Star-Spangled Banner’…that song—written during the battle in the War of 1812—commemorates the sacrifice that won our liberty.”—Mitt Romney

Francis Scott Key wrote ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’ in 1814 about the Battle of Baltimore, a key victory in the War of 1812. He did not, despite Hitt’s ignorance, write it about the American Revolution. (One of the key entries in the as-yet-unwritten “A Liberal History of the United States” should be liberals’ discovery of Google, which apparently has yet to occur.)

1916: Planned Parenthood opens genocide clinics: “When Margaret Sanger—check my history—started Planned Parenthood, the objective was to put these centers in primarily black communities so they could help kill black babies before they came into the world.”—Herman Cain

Margaret Sanger was an enthusiastic eugenicist who promoted birth control and abortion to weed out what she deemed inferior elements of society, including poor people and blacks. Consider this quote, in which she offered advice on how to trick African Americans into accepting abortion: “We should hire three or four colored ministers, preferably with social-service backgrounds, and with engaging personalities… We don’t want the word to go out that we want to exterminate the Negro population, and the minister is the man who can straighten out that idea if it ever occurs to any of their more rebellious members.”

1964: Republicans fight for the Civil Rights Act: “We were the people who passed the civil-rights bills back in the sixties without very much help from our colleagues across the aisle.”—Representative Virginia Foxx

PolitiFact rated True former RNC Chairman Michael Steele’s claim that Republicans were instrumental in passing civil rights legislation in the sixties. Republicans had passed civil rights laws in 1957 and 1960, but these weren’t spearheaded by a Democratic president, so we never hear about them. The 1964 act was the first case in which a civil rights bill was pushed by a Democratic president, and even then Republicans voted for it in much higher percentages in the House and Senate than Democrats (the same for the Voting Rights Act of 1965).

July 20, 1969: Neil Armstrong makes a historic utterance: “The first word spoken from the moon was ‘Houston.’ ”—Rick Perry

The first words Armstrong uttered upon landing on the moon were “Houston, Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed.” Later he delivered his prepared line, “That’s one small step for (a) man; one giant leap for mankind.” But Hitt was too lazy to fact-check the governor and so blinded by partisanship that he assumed Perry was dumb enough to self-servingly insert Texas’s largest city into an urban myth of his own making.

2011: President George W. Bush kills Osama bin Laden: “Thanks to George Bush… Because if Obama had his way we wouldn’t have gotten bin Laden, you know that.”—Sean Hannity

As Obama’s Defense Secretary Leon Panetta attested, the intelligence used to find Osama bin Laden resulted from the enhanced interrogation technique program Bush put into place, liberals screamed about, and Obama reluctantly continued from the moment he took office.

Dozens more of Hitt’s misses can easily be deconstructed via 10 seconds of simple fact-checking.

What explains Hitt and other liberals’ historical ignorance? Simple: They cite conservatives making factual statements and referencing evidence liberals haven’t heard because it doesn’t fit their ideological predisposition (or because they’re too lazy to fact-check), then they simply overconfidently present conservative statements as lies.

From the Crusades to 9/11, liberals regularly rewrite history without being called out on it by the media. You can’t blame them for their ensuing ignorance.

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Economic Lessons We’ve Learned From Liberals: Social Media Edition

February 04, 2015 By: Scott Spiegel Category: Economy

liberal-economicsIn honor of President Obama’s recent $4 trillion dollar budget proposal, I thought I’d recap some of the ludicrous claims liberals have made over the last few years in support of Dear Leader’s cockamamie redistributionist schemes. We’re going to be hearing a lot of these specious justifications trotted out via social media over the next few weeks, so we need to be prepared to counter them.

Liberals have always had trouble using numbers, math, and calculations to quantify the effects of their economic policies over time, and no communications platform has made it easier for them to spread their ignorance than social media.

Recall the graph Nancy Pelosi’s office released a few years ago showing that Obama was the stingiest spender in recent presidential history. Despite the fact that liberals love government spending and should have been aghast by this news, they were ecstatic that their profligate president could claim the mantle of fiscal responsibility—and they had an actual graph to prove it!

Then conservatives who knew such a graph could not possibly be accurate started digging into the numbers and revealed that Pelosi’s graph had accidentally counted Obama’s entire first year of spending as Bush’s. PolitiFact rated the graph “Pants on Fire,” and Pelosi’s office retracted it, though liberals continue to pass it around.

About a year later, another graph made the social media rounds showing that Obama had slowed the growth of spending more than any president in recent history—and in fact reversed it.

Then analysts such as John Lott looked at the data and realized that its author had counted Obama’s first year of spending as Bush’s again—this time intentionally. This sleight-of-hand was justified via the ludicrous premise that Bush had set in stone the budget for Obama’s first 12 months in office, from which Obama could and did not swerve one inch (never mind that little $1 trillion stimulus bill, Cash for Clunkers, etc.).

The new graph also failed to acknowledge that the only reason Obama had “slowed” spending—after his first, uncounted year—is because he had set such a new, exorbitant spending baseline in 2009 that any level he reached after that couldn’t top his first year.

Another graph shows how military spending outstrips health, education, and all other federal spending categories. A chart on the site Democratic Underground labeled “What Our Tax Dollars Pay For” shows three icons—a tiny prescription bottle, a miniature house, and a teensy book—overshadowed by an enormous missile. The three small icons are labeled Health, Housing, and Education, and the large icon is labeled Militarism & War. The graph shows that the federal government spends over $600 billion on Militarism & War and less than $100 billion on each of the other three categories.

Except that this graph documents only discretionary spending, not mandatory spending—the latter of which includes Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, which consume a far larger chunk of the federal budget than the military.

One liberal meme titled “The Facts on Social Security”—which Socialist Senator Bernie Sanders recently referenced—claims “Social Security has not contributed one nickel to our deficit or national debt.”

This ludicrous claim fails to distinguish between funded and unfunded liabilities. A funded liability involves the government saying, “We’re going to budget $1 billion for such-and-such entitlement for FY15. The program gets $1 billion—no more.” However you feel about the entitlement program in question, it can be budgeted for. The permanent version is, “We’ll budget $1 billion for this program every year, indexed for inflation, in perpetuity.” Again, this can be accounted for.

But an unfunded liability results when the government says, “We promise everyone such-and-such benefits—e.g., 60% of their income after retirement, 75% health insurance coverage, 90% of prescription drug costs—from now on, no matter how much the population grows, no matter how many people take advantage of these benefits, no matter how much these subsidies cost the government.” The cost of an unfunded entitlement is indeterminate; thus the entitlements can’t be budgeted for—and for this reason are more insidious than funded ones.

Amazingly, unfunded liabilities aren’t included in federal debt estimates, because we can’t predict precisely how gargantuan they will be. We know that the federal debt is about $16 trillion—but estimates that include unfunded liabilities are many times that amount, by some measures up to $100 trillion.

Saying Social Security doesn’t contribute to the federal debt is like saying you can eat a whole homemade cherry cheesecake for dessert every night and not gain weight, because the number of calories isn’t listed.

The natural endpoint of liberals realizing they can’t win arguments about spending, deficits, and debt using data has been for them to produce “theoretical” graphs showing how raising spending and taxes theoretically increases growth and employment.

Expect an increasingly desperate left to use more of the same discredited theories and assumptions in support of Obama’s mind-boggling new budget.

(See also Economic Lessons We’ve Learned From Liberals and Liberal Myths: Holiday Edition.)

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Obama Suddenly a Fan of Separation of Powers

January 28, 2015 By: Scott Spiegel Category: Obama

obamavbibiPresident Obama can grant five million illegal immigrants amnesty, install high-level executive staff without consulting Congress, strip welfare reform of its work requirement, free dangerous Talibani soldiers without notifying Congress, and rewrite Obamacare. But the Speaker of the House issues an invitation to the head of our greatest ally in the Middle East to discuss the existential threat Israel faces from its neighbors before Congress, and suddenly the president is mortally offended over violation of procedure.

Obama is reportedly “fuming” over House Speaker John Boehner’s invitation to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to speak before Congress in support of expanding U.S. sanctions against Iran to halt its uranium enrichment and nuclear weapons production.

His sycophants are equally upset: The Washington Post’s Richard Cohen carped that Boehner has no right to issue an invitation to a foreign leader on his own, and that the Speaker and his allies bypassed Obama simply because they “hate his guts” and want to “destroy the president.”

Politico’s David Rogers labeled Boehner’s actions “payback,” and blamed the kerfuffle on the “deteriorat[ion of] normal courtesies” and on “acrimony” that is “infectious”—not on Obama’s demonstrable, pigheaded refusal to communicate with Congress.

Rogers cited two examples of Congress and the President not talking that are supposed to show that both sides are guilty of usurpation of power—yet both actually demonstrate the President at fault. The first is the White House ignoring Boehner’s request to have Netanyahu speak in 2011 (Obama’s fault). The second is the White House inappropriately promising South Korean President Lee Myung-bak a chance to speak before Congress without first asking Boehner (also Obama’s fault), the latter of whom understandably delayed his approval—but eventually gave it, unlike Obama—out of disgust at disregard for his role.

But Rogers acts as though both sides are equally to blame for appropriating each other’s power; he asks, “Have the two sides learned now they must talk more?” One already knew; the other refuses to learn.

The Boston Globe’s Michael A. Cohen complained that in cooperation with Boehner, Netanyahu has “gone too far,” demonstrated unprecedented “ingratitude and hubris,” “blindsided” and “undercut” Obama, “gone out of his way to stick his finger in the president’s eye,” “nakedly politicized the issue” of sanctions, and “throw[n] Obama and the White House under the bus.”

Let’s see: Obama issued an executive order unilaterally granting amnesty to five million illegal immigrants rather than properly leaving such authority to Congress. Was that “going too far?”

Obama repeatedly made recess appointments when Congress wasn’t in recess, a move the Supreme Court slapped down in a humiliating 9-0 ruling. Did Obama’s actions demonstrate “hubris?”

Obama released a policy directive allowing the Department of Health and Human Services to waive the work requirement of the hugely effective 1996 welfare reform law, thus stripping it of its enforcement power. Did that “blindside” and “undercut” Congress?

Obama traded five high-level, murderous Talibani soldiers for one U.S. deserter without notifying Congress one month beforehand as required by law. Did that “stick a finger in Congress’s eye?”

Obama continues to rewrite Obamacare on an almost weekly basis by changing or delaying the enforcement of dozens of provisions until strategic dates after important elections. Is that “nakedly politicizing” issues or “throwing Congress under the bus?”

Compare Boehner’s invitation and Obama’s executive actions. The former supports the goal of helping our greatest Middle Eastern ally preserve its existence and serve as a bulwark against terrorist states who seek to bring down the West. The latter further the goal of trying to turn the country more Democratic, sneak far-left nominees into office, expand the welfare state, appease our enemies, and help fellow Democrats get elected.

It’s true that we give the Commander in Chief some leeway in foreign policy, but in the case of inviting Netanyahu to speak, Boehner isn’t even overstepping his boundaries. He’s simply asking the Prime Minister to comment on the issue of sanctions against Iran, a matter Congress will ultimately vote on. Only because Obama has such venomous contempt for Netanyahu is this invitation the scandal the administration has made it.

Obama has a boneheaded, ineffectual, diplomatic strategy that Boehner’s overture may hinder, but the President isn’t the only one who gets to weigh in on foreign policy.

Obama’s mantra for the last two years on every subject for which Congress and the American people oppose what he wants to do has been, “If Congress won’t act, I will.” Obama frequently boasts about having a phone and a pen at his disposal. Boehner isn’t even using his pen—just his phone. He’s not trying to write, sign, or impose anything—just invite an ally to make a speech.

On the question of who is guilty of greater violation of separation of powers, I’m going to go with… not even close.

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Questions for Science Lovers

January 21, 2015 By: Scott Spiegel Category: Environmentalism

Neil-head-on-Bill-shoulder(After George Will)

The media have been trumpeting NASA’s recent claim that 2014 was Planet Earth’s hottest year on record—the third time this record has been broken in the past decade—thus setting the stage for another round of haranguing over how we must drastically reduce carbon dioxide emissions or face certain doom. Some questions for anthropogenic global warming (AGW) proponents who claim to love science:

Climatologists, geologists, astronomers, physicists, hydrologists, and glaciologists have published dozens of articles in peer-reviewed journals offering credible alternatives to the AGW hypothesis. These theories examine the significant role of solar forcing, sunspot activity, glaciation, tilts in the Earth’s orbit, ocean currents, plate tectonics, cloud cover, and cosmic radiation on global temperature. Since scientists attempt to falsify their theories to test whether they hold up against the alternatives, why is each of these other theories so flawed that it doesn’t deserve consideration and discussion in the media as a possible competing explanation for global warming?

Upon witnessing the Earth’s surface temperature fail to increase over the past seventeen years, some AGW supporters have produced the ad hoc explanation that the warming is being sequestered or “hidden” in the deep ocean, and will eventually rise to the surface, where it will increase global surface temperature. Climatologist Judith Curry has critiqued that explanation, noting that the only evidence for deep ocean sequestration is a questionable reanalysis of a dataset that contradicts several other datasets, the latter of which show warming only in the upper oceans. According to the sequestration argument, we would expect warming in the deep ocean but not the upper ocean, when in fact we are consistently seeing the opposite. Where is the flaw in Curry’s critique, and if there is none, will AGW supporters discard the sequestration explanation of the missing warming?

AGW supporters have claimed several times in the past decade that the previous year was the hottest on record, when in fact each time a “record” was set it was only a few hundredths of a degree hotter than the previous record. The latest “record” shows that the Earth was .02°C warmer in 2014 than in 2010, with a margin of error of .10°C—five times the amount of the supposed warming. These recent records are always well within the margin of error for global surface temperature measurements. Statistical significance and margin of error are basic scientific concepts. Why do AGW supporters uncritically make dramatic claims about warming in specific years when the differences they spotlight are statistically insignificant?

One of the public relations peaks of the AGW movement over the past several years was the TV segment in which John Oliver dismissed the notion that there is any legitimate doubt over whether man is causing catastrophic global warming. He did so by having 97 scientists representing the supposed consensus file onstage to shout down 3 lonely skeptics. The preponderance of AGW supporters, which reflects a statistic floating around that 97% of climatologists believe in catastrophic manmade global warming, was supposed to impress skeptics based on the sheer disparity in numbers. Yet science is not determined by consensus—as historical figures such as Copernicus or Galileo can tell you. The Oliver stunt was tagged in social media as “the best climate debate you’ll ever see”; but in fact it wasn’t a debate at all, because arguments weren’t presented and defended or refuted—the only “argument” was the number of bodies on stage. Have scientific methods changed, such that the sheer number of scientists who agree with a hypothesis now determines its truth, irrespective of the arguments in support of or against it?

Speaking of that 97% figure, many authors cited as part of the review that yielded it have come out and said that their views were misrepresented, and that they don’t accept the claim that man is causing catastrophic global warming. An exposé by Popular Technology revealed that not only did the 97%-citers cook up the study as a public relations stunt and marketing ploy for their brand-new Consensus Project, they “crowd-sourced” the classification of the universe of 12,000 papers to online readers of the climate alarmist site Skeptical Science. Would those who conducted the study be willing to contact the authors of the papers they counted and ask them if their views were appropriately categorized, then publish a corrected tally based on these scientists’ classifications of their own views?

AGW supporters like to point out when climate change skeptics’ research has been funded by “big oil” or “big carbon,” whose industry leaders believe that environmental restrictions will hurt their business. Suppose that skeptics were right and global warming weren’t caused primarily by man, despite the widely-held belief that it is; yet a few intrepid scientists were testing alternative theories that they believed had greater merit. Assuming that energy industry titans wanted scientific evidence rather than unfounded propaganda to acquit them of charges of destroying the planet, how else should they proceed besides funding scientists to conduct critical studies that no one else in the field is willing to touch?

Regarding those funding sources, AGW supporters are quick to dismiss the results of studies they fund based on the identity of the funders. A more devastating way to discredit these studies would be to show how their arguments and evidence are flawed. Yet most AGW proponents seem content to lambaste funding sources without addressing the content of the studies. Have scientific methods changed, such that the funding source for a research study invalidates the results if that source is politically unpopular or may benefit from the results?

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Islam Est Le Problème

January 14, 2015 By: Scott Spiegel Category: War on Terror

6a00d83451bc4a69e200e54f6373848834-640wiJournalists reporting on the jihadist massacre at the Parisian satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo, and the subsequent deadly hostage-taking at a nearby kosher deli, have been insisting that the growing worldwide threat to free expression emanates from some nonspecific entity known as Violent Extremism.

The Nation’s Laila Lalami charged that Charlie’s Muslim cartoons were nothing more than “casual bigotry”; she dismissed the notion that the attacks were a result of Islamic radicalization. Her evidence? Two of the victims included a Muslim copy editor who was working at Charlie that day and a Muslim police officer who showed up on the scene.

Newsflash: Muslims don’t have qualms about killing other Muslims. I think the barbaric actions of ISIS and Boko Haram over the past year have closed the book on that argument. Also, attackers likely didn’t know there was a Muslim Charlie employee in the office that day, or that a Muslim police officer was nearby.

Many reporters’ first reaction to the Charlie killings was to fret, not that there was a surge in disaffected Muslim immigrants who were ripe for becoming radicalized, but that France’s far-right National Front party would use the tragedy for political advantage, or that Muslims would suffer a public backlash.

Usually when these attacks happen and Muslim apologists make these sorts of preemptive complaints, there’s a period of several weeks of mourning and reflection during which some segment of the public drifts into complacently accepting the argument that Muslims aren’t more violent than practitioners of other religions.

Thus, note the tragic but poetic justice in the slaughter at a Parisian kosher deli hours later, which unfolded just as the left was telling us the Charlie murders were an isolated act and reflected nothing about Islam.

Most of the images and essays political cartoonists and columnists have produced in response to the tragedy focus on the threat extremism poses to freedom of expression, even while these responses downplay any link to Islam.

But show me one journalist anywhere on Earth who would fear for his life after publishing a cartoon mocking Christianity, Judaism, Hindu, or any religion besides Islam.

Preventing future Charlie-style attacks demands honesty about the root causes of terrorism and an acknowledgement that no other religion is responsible for inspiring more acts of terrorism per capita than Islam.

Most Westerners know about only a fraction of such acts. But the Charlie attack wasn’t the only murderous Islamic attack last week. It wasn’t even the only murderous attack that day.

As Religion of Peace documents, on January 7, the day of the Parisian bloodbath, Muslims committed the following attacks:

  • Boko Haram slaughtered 2,000 innocent people across 16 villages in Nigeria
  • An al-Qaeda suicide bomber killed 37 and injured 67 on a bus in Yemen
  • Islamists machine-gunned 9 road workers in Afghanistan, killing 6 and wounding 3
  • ISIS thugs kidnapped 5 Baghdadis from their homes and shot them in the back of the head
  • Islamic soldiers detonated two bombs in Baghdad, killing 4 and injuring 11
  • A suicide bomber killed 4 and injured 3 in Mosul, Iraq
  • Taliban soldiers murdered 2 children and injured 11 people in Afghanistan

In four other attacks the same day, Islamic terrorists killed four more people, including a police officer and a mentally disabled man.

Totally missing the larger picture, the left-wing Public Religion Research Institute trumpeted the results of a poll showing that most Americans believe that acts of terror committed by Christians are less reflective of Christianity than acts of terror committed by Muslims are of Islam. PRRI drew the ridiculous conclusion that Americans “have a double standard,” because they measure Islam according to a higher benchmark than Christianity.

But if a much higher number of terrorist acts per capita are committed by Muslims than Christians, is it illogical to assume that these acts are more representative of Islam—especially when there’s ample basis for them in the religion’s holy text? How about if the attackers scream “Allahu Akbar!” and boast about avenging the Prophet every time they slaughter infidels?

The Nation’s Lalami wrote, “When I think of that morning in Paris, I don’t doubt where my allegiance is. It is with victims, no matter whether they are believers or nonbelievers.”

How brave of Lalami to side with victims. Would General Patton have been courageous enough to take such a bold stance?

Victims are only half of the equation. Perpetrators are the other half. And it doesn’t help prevent future terrorist attacks and more victims if we refuse to identify the ideology motivating the vast majority of them: Islam.

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Winnowing the 2016 Field

January 07, 2015 By: Scott Spiegel Category: Elections: 2016

Presentation1Who do we want on our 2016 GOP presidential ticket? There are a lot of people out there pushing bad choices who claim to know best, but who will put us in a world of hurt if we don’t analyze this with a view toward winning.

Below are my ten conditions that the Republican 2016 ticket must meet:

  1. Both presidential and vice presidential candidates must be governors. Being a governor gives a candidate an enormous electoral advantage relative to being a senator, representative, cabinet appointee, pizza magnate, Director of Pediatric Neurosurgery, or any other job. Both halves of the ticket must be governors, so we don’t have to listen to Democrats tout what-if scenarios involving the death of our president and the ascension of our VP to his role.
  2. Both halves must be governors of swing states, or at least bluish-purple states. If we win a landslide we won’t need those states; if we lose miserably they won’t help; but neither of those scenarios is as likely as one in which we win by a handy but not comfortable margin. Let’s preclude the nail-biting and choose among the 20 or so purple/violet states to give ourselves a head start.
  3. Our presidential candidate must be a governor of a large state. See #2. By large I mean top-20 by population.
  4. At least one member of our ticket must be black, Latino, or female. It’s unfortunate that we have to play racial and gender politics. But we do, because Democrats rely on it to win, which means we can’t give them that advantage. The GOP is demonstrably less racist than Democrats, but we have to be 1/10th as racist to be seen as only twice as racist.
  5. Both halves must have served as governor for at least four years (the length of a presidential term). Both must have been reelected.
  6. Both must be popular governors. General popularity is necessary to win purple/violet states.
  7. Our nominees needn’t be Tea Partiers, but they can’t be the sort of centrists the Republican base has increasingly been grumbling about. White voter turnout was a shocking 6 million less than projected in 2012, and 4.5 million less than in 2008—the only reason Democrats thrived despite their lower-than-2008 turnout. This cannot happen again.
  8. Both candidates must be people no one has been talking about as serious candidates. There’s widespread dissatisfaction among the base about our choices. Therefore, both halves of our ticket must be people who aren’t currently in any poll’s top 10, though perhaps in some polls’ top 15 or 20. We need fresh faces.
  9. Our presidential candidate should have a record of making wise policy choices but not be so on the frontlines that he has become the object of scorn. We have to consider the positives and negatives of our candidates. We don’t need one with a big, fat bull’s eye on him for the media to destroy.
  10. Our presidential candidate must be 60-69; our vice presidential candidate must be 50-59. These are the Magic Ages for maximum appeal/credibility.

Who does that leave?

#1 rules out non-governors Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Rand Paul, Paul Ryan, Rick Santorum, Bob Corker, Donald Trump, Carly Fiorina, Allen West, and Ben Carson. No Ben Carson, conservatives. Step away from the neurosurgeon. Keep your hands where I can see them.

#2 rules out non-swing-staters Mike Huckabee, Mitt Romney, Bob Ehrlich, George Pataki, Rick Perry, Bobby Jindal, John Huntsman, and Sarah Palin.

#3 rules out small-state guvs Nikki Haley, Susana Martinez, and Brian Sandoval, at least for the top of the ticket.

#4 means at least one half of the ticket must be a “minority” like Haley, Martinez, or Sandoval; the Cruzes, Rubios, Wests, Carsons, Cains, Rices, Fiorinas, Bachmanns, Palins, and Jindals have already been disqualified.

#5 rules out Mike Pence, who’s been Governor of Indiana for only two years.

#6 rules out Rick Snyder, who’s in solidly negative territory.

#7. Sorry, Jeb.

#8. Sorry, Chris Christie. If people are already sick of you, they’re not going to fall back in love with you in 2016.

#9. Sorry, Scott Walker. You and Christie broke the mold for union-busting governors, but you’ve also got a (ridiculous) lawsuit against you and a lot of determined enemies.

#10 rules out Nikki Haley, who—like Jindal, Rubio, Cruz, Lee, and Ryan—are babies, politically speaking.

Who’s left? Mitch Daniels and Jim Gilmore have expressed no interest in running, and are also former governors, which isn’t a plus.

That leaves just three names: John Kasich for the top spot, and Brian Sandoval or Susana Martinez for the second. Both of the latter are extremely popular, but Nevada is more of a swing state and has a 50% larger population, so I’m going with Sandoval.

Kasich-Sandoval sounds like a stab in the dark. Given the vagaries of presidential elections, I’ll feel vindicated if these two emerge as serious top-five choices.

But if you agree that the above criteria have merit, the logical endpoint is: Kasich-Sandoval.

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Civil Rights, Conspiracy Charges, Embarrassing Foreigners, and Un-P.C. Health Recommendations

December 31, 2014 By: Scott Spiegel Category: Miscellaneous

?????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????(Excerpts from favorite 2014 columns)

Civil Rights

Democrats: Stuck Between Little Rock and a Hard Place

NPR reporter Debbie Elliott recently commemorated Brown v. Board of Education by implying that absolutely nothing has changed since then… Elliott quoted one superintendent: “‘I have had people comment about their kids going where black students are, and not wanting to. That’s still a truth about human nature.’”

But not wanting your kids to go to school with black children in the 1950s and being leery about sending them to inner-city schools today are entirely different phenomena. Democrats pretend that government-sanctioned segregation is the same as parents wanting to send their children to schools Democrats haven’t screwed up.

The Civil Rights Legacy Democrats Stole from Republicans

In liberals’ fantasy world, Democrats spearheaded civil rights while dragging along reluctant Republicans, and Johnson did the right thing even though he knew Southern Democrats would switch parties.

In fact, Republicans had been pushing civil rights throughout the 1950s, and the transformation of the South from Democratic to Republican started in the 1920s and had nothing to do with race.

After the dissolution of the Dixiecrats in 1948, 23 of the 26 Dixiecrats returned to being lifelong Democrats. Only 1 of 97 Democrats who signed the Southern Manifesto opposing Brown v. Board of Education switched to the Republican Party.

Democrats’ War on Competent Women

Obama recently renewed his push to remedy the civil rights issue of pay inequality by promising to go around Congress if it doesn’t act.

Yet he failed to acknowledge that women’s life circumstances differ from men’s in many ways that affect their earnings. Women major in subjects that lead to lower-paying jobs. Women are more likely to interrupt their careers to have children.

Controlling for all of the above factors, the gender gap dwindles to 6.6 cents.

Even the Labor Department admitted in a comprehensive study in 2009, “There may be nothing to correct.” Is Obama unaware of his own Labor Department’s pay gap research?

Conspiracy Charges

For Liberal Politicians, Lane Closure Is a Way of Life

Imagine a big-state governor supposedly conspiring to shut down the busiest bridge in the country, holding up thousands of drivers.

Now imagine the President holding up millions of online health care shoppers for three months, causing frustration and anger, not to mention lost coverage and discontinuity of care. Which do you think liberals would be livid about and demand federal investigations into? Which do you think they would brush off as trivia hardly worth mentioning?

The left’s raison d’être is closing lanes in every area of our lives. At least Christie’s aides stopped their shenanigans after four days.

More Horses Lose Their Heads When Liberals Are in Power

Democrats have been hyping conspiracy charges against a union-busting Republican Governor. No, not Christie—Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker. Forget Bridgegate: this scandal should be called Free Speechgate. But it’s Walker’s opponents who have been behaving scandalously.

The Club for Growth filed a lawsuit against state prosecutors, alleging that their ruthless investigation was chilling conservative groups’ free speech. Due to the sleazy, shadowy nature of John Doe investigations, Walker was prevented from defending himself against public charges.

Liberals are now officially trying to keep conservatives from speaking out about how liberals are trying to keep them from speaking out.

It Takes a Village to Clear the Field for Hillary

Suppose you and your buddies were high-ranking political operatives and sleazy Democrats and wanted to conspire to take out top Republican contenders for the 2016 Presidential election.

You’d want to focus on governors, such as pension reformer Governor Chris Christie. By and large you’d focus on the more conservative candidates… You might target Governor Scott Walker, who survived a recall election in 2011, or Governor Rick Perry, who presided over 14 years of explosive economic growth.

But which trumped-up charges would you conspire to saddle these governors with? Conspiracy, naturally.

Embarrassing Foreigners

What’s Next After Sochi: Synchronized Beheadings in Tehran?

Should countries that support state sponsors of terror, give traitors asylum, and commit human rights abuses be rewarded?

The Winter Olympics are now unfolding in supposedly post-Soviet Russia in a farcical spectacle that has yielded a panoply of disasters.

Witness Sochi hotels, whose sparkling amenities include empty elevator shafts, falling light fixtures, and rooms without WiFi, heat, or water.

Russian television displays have been showing the wrong flags for competing countries. The last of five animatronic snowflakes that were supposed to blossom into Olympic rings during the opening ceremony failed to open.

There hasn’t been a rollout this embarrassing since healthcare.gov.

Nobel Peace Prize Committee Still Lauding Frauds

Conservatives have been posting portraits of this year’s Peace Prize co-winner Malala Yousafzai and former winner Obama with captions implying that one of them deserved the award and the other didn’t.

They’re right that one winner is more deserving. Unfortunately, he doesn’t much deserve it, either.

Education activist Yousafzai holds the distinction of being the youngest hit speaker on the international Marxist convention circuit… While other teenagers were making crafts and learning to swim, Malala spent her summer studying Lenin and Trotsky.

Malala simply rejected one murderous totalitarian ideology to flirt with another, more murderous totalitarian ideology.

Politically Incorrect Health Recommendations

Health Recommendation for Summer 2014: Get Out In the Sun

There’s not one longitudinal study out there showing that sun tanning causes skin cancer… The few controlled studies that exist show that sun burning increases skin cancer.

Skin cancer is one of the least lethal types of cancer… Risking skin cancer could help you fight more lethal cancers.

Scientists have long known about the health benefits of vitamin D, including protecting against multiple other types of cancer. Even if tanning led to a slight increase in skin cancer, we would predict it to yield a net reduction in deaths.

Several sets of researchers have crunched the numbers and drawn just that conclusion.

Are Clogged Arteries and Type 2 Diabetes Patriotic?

Why are conservatives so quick to jump to the defense of companies that push mass-produced, preservative-laden, nutritionally-stunted fare? Can Republicans support the right of businesses to sell what they want without championing low cuisine?

According to a recent survey, conservatives support Chick-fil-A, Domino’s, Waffle House, Carl’s Jr, Denny’s, and Hardee’s; while liberals frequent Au Bon Pain, Chipotle, Jamba Juice, Panera Bread, P. F. Chang’s, and Starbucks.

Is there something shameful about having healthy tastes? Is it essential for conservatives’ pride in their country to view carnival food as haute cuisine?

Can conservatives at least admit that kale and bacon taste delicious together?

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Times Readers: Gays Are Cool—But Their Blood Is Icky!

December 24, 2014 By: Scott Spiegel Category: Gay Rights

tumblr_m2bzn9RtzY1qghfy5o1_400If you want proof that the left doesn’t care about members of the minority groups it callously stitches together into voting blocs to win elections, look no further than the comments section of The New York Times’ story on the FDA’s recent decision to lift its ban on gay men donating blood.

Until I read their comments, I had never anticipated that so many liberals had such a visceral disgust reaction toward gays:

“I’ll opt for exsanguination.”

Exsanguination, for those who don’t know, means dying of massive blood loss. This New York Times reader would rather ooze blood out of his body until he dies than accept a transfusion from an HIV-negative gay man in a monogamous relationship.

“Sorry, but I will pass. Too many gays have too many multiple partners on a weekly basis.”

Interesting! But how many gays donate blood that’s used in blood transfusions without being tested? Zero!

Fact: All blood donated in this country is tested for HIV and a dozen other sexually transmitted diseases before being used.

Critics counter that HIV can take weeks to be detectable. Fine—wait before using blood in transfusions if anything about a donor’s history suggest a possibility of risk. Red blood cells can be safely used up to six weeks after donation. Frozen plasma can be used for up to a year.

What other concerns do sciency, science-loving Times fans have?

“If donees had a choice between blood from an admittedly sexually active gale [sic] male and a confirmed celibate nun, more than a few people would choose the nun’s blood.”

Personally, I’d choose blood from a sexually active gay male who practiced safe sex and whose blood had been tested for HIV—as all donors’ blood is— and found negative over a nun who was found to be HIV-positive. Call me crazy!

The government banning blood from gay men is like a jury for a painting competition denying all entrants with children, because they might have used their kids’ crayons on their canvases instead of oils. Don’t worry—I think the judges will be able to figure that out before awarding the prize.

Here’s a charming quote from a reader who views the gay community as a perpetual 1970s bathhouse:

“Prior to the recognition of HIV/AIDS, one physician studying health conditions in the gay community compared it to those of a Third World country with parasites and diseases not normally found in advanced countries. Any perusal of CDC statistics for STIs reveals very high rates for gay men. Like it or not, we are not dealing with a healthy population.”

That was 40 years ago—or by virology standards, just yesterday! Is this commenter as concerned about the possibility of undocumented immigrants bringing new diseases into the country as he is about what some gay men were doing 40 years ago? To paraphrase his words, when it comes to Third World refugees flooding our borders, “we are not dealing with a healthy population.”

These are all comments from people who feel enough ideological affinity with The Times to read it on a regular basis and contribute to its comments section. These are not World Net Daily acolytes—these are your friends and liberals.

To apprehend how shocking this anti-gay slant is, consider that approximately 99% of the comments to any other Times article are drenched with sneering, conservative-despising, pat-on-the-back-for-being-liberal sentiments that get hundreds of thumbs up from other readers, while the few sober, untrendy, fact-based comments with conservative perspectives get ignored. Yet when it comes to the thought of getting life-saving blood transfusions from icky gays, Times readers can’t express their disgust fast enough.

When conservatives accept gay marriage or adopt other pro-gay positions, it’s usually because they start applying fundamental principles of individual liberty more broadly—even if it sometimes takes their knowing a gay person or two to get to that point.

In contrast, liberals seem to support gay marriage because it Overthrows the Patriarchy, Subverts the Nuclear Family, or Promotes Ascendancy for Disadvantaged Groups (take your pick). Liberal activists don’t see gays as people, they see them as votes, causes, or weapons.

All donated blood in this country is screened before being used. Any policy, attitude, or comment that ignores that fact is misinformed or bigoted. And the supposedly pro-gay left is apparently as vulnerable to this bias as anyone.

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