November 30, 2009

Reviewing NYT’s Food Stamp Report, Part 2 of 3: Paper Ignores Stimulus-Driven 30% Benefit Increases

Filed under: Economy,MSM Biz/Other Ignorance,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 3:21 pm

FoodStampMontage

The New York Times’s Jason DeParle and Robert Gebeloff published a long Saturday report on the Food Stamp program that went into print on Sunday.

This is the second of three posts on their coverage; the first went up earlier today at NewsBusters and BizzyBlog. It addressed the pair’s seeming happiness with the massive increase in program participation, their apparent unhappiness that 15-16 million who could be getting Food Stamps aren’t, and their sense of relief that the “stigma” attached to being on a form of government dole has significantly dissipated.

This post will deal with something that should have been right in front of the Times pair’s faces: Even before considering loosened eligibility standards (the third post will deal with that), Food Stamp benefits (gross and net) have increased by much more than the rate of food inflation during the past couple of years, especially in the past year, during which the increase in net benefits has been a whopping 30%.

Here are a few article excerpts from the Times report that deal with benefit levels (the first excerpted paragraph originally appeared in between the two other sets of paragraphs presented):

Now nearly 12 percent of Americans receive aid —

28 percent of blacks, 15 percent of Latinos and 8 percent of whites. Benefits average about $130 a month for each person in the household, but vary with shelter and child care costs.

…. With most of his co-workers laid off, Greg Dawson, a third-generation electrician in rural Martinsville, considers himself lucky to still have a job. He works the night shift for a contracting firm, installing freezer lights in a chain of grocery stores. But when his overtime income vanished and his expenses went up, Mr. Dawson started skimping on meals to feed his wife and five children.

He tried to fill up on cereal and eggs. He ate a lot of Spam. Then he went to work with a grumbling stomach to shine lights on food he could not afford. When an outreach worker appeared at his son’s Head Start program, Mr. Dawson gave in.

“It’s embarrassing,” said Mr. Dawson, 29, a taciturn man with a wispy goatee who is so uneasy about the monthly benefit of $300 that he has not told his parents. “I always thought it was people trying to milk the system. But we just felt like we really needed the help right now.”

…. Sarah and Tyrone Mangold started the year on track to make $70,000 — she was selling health insurance, and he was working on a heating and air conditioning crew. She got laid off in the spring, and he a few months later. Together they had one unemployment check and a blended family of three children, including one with a neurological disorder aggravated by poor nutrition.

They ate at his mother’s house twice a week. They pawned jewelry. She scoured the food pantry. He scrounged for side jobs. Their frustration peaked one night over a can of pinto beans. Each blamed the other when that was all they had to eat.

“We were being really snippy, having anxiety attacks,” Ms. Mangold said. “People get irritable when they’re hungry.”

Food stamps now fortify the family income by $623 a month, and Mr. Mangold, who is still patching together odd jobs, no longer objects.

“I always thought people on public assistance were lazy,” he said, “but it helps me know I can feed my kids.”

This chart of gross and net benefits for fiscal years beginning October 1, 2007, 2008, and 2009 tells the story (data sources identified below):

FoodStampBenesOct2007toOct2009

The Maximum Monthly Allotment is the USDA’s term for the gross benefit. It is what an individual or household receives if there were no other resources available as determined under program eligibility rules for that person or household to pay for food. October 1, 2009 figures are at the USDA’s site. Previous posts documented the MMAs as of October 1, 2008 and 2007, respectively. Note that 2008 benefit levels corresponded very closely to what the USDA considers the cost of its “Thrifty Meal Plan” budget.

The Net Per-Person benefit is an estimate sourced as follows:

  • As of October 1, 2009, it is the $130 the Times pair cited in their report.
  • For the previous two Octobers, it is the $23 and $21 per-week average benefit cited by the purveyors of the “Food Stamp Challenge” converted into a monthly amount.

The Net Per-Person benefit is the result of subtracting resources deemed available to pay for food. The general rule is that 30% of beneficiaries’ “net monthly income” — an amount that is determined, as seen at the same USDA fact sheet, only after deducting several items from one’s income or net pay — is expected to be available to pay for food.

The food inflation figures came from the Bureau of Labor Statistics as of September 2009 and September 2008. Although annual MMA benefit adjustments are actually based on a slightly earlier 12-month span than identified here, the points being made here wouldn’t substantially change.

Based on the figures presented, it’s pretty darned obvious that gross benefits have ratcheted up significantly, while the average deductions against MMA/gross benefits have actually shrunk a bit. The 2007-2008 change was not much different than real food inflation, and may have matched it pretty closely if the adjustment was based on a mid-summer 2007-2008 measurement. But the 2008-2009 increase is off the charts, even though the cost of food eaten at home has gone down.

Most of the 2008-2009 increase actually took effect six month earlier in April as a result of the stimulus package passed in February. A Massachusetts social services site has the details

Times reporters DeParle and Gebeloff never mentioned that the increases were stimulus-driven in their report; in fact, they didn’t discuss year-over-year increases at all. They never considered that the 30% higher benefit levels might be drawing more government dependents into the program. They never addressed why, if previous benefit levels were sufficient under a thrifty meal plan approach, taxpayers should be expected to pay for what is now clearly more than that.

The Food Stamp program has apparently morphed from an “eat well, but watch your pennies” approach to “eat as you’re used to eating (or close to it)” design without one iota of notice or debate. Heritage’s Robert Rector, who told the Times that the program has devolved into something that is “really not different from cash welfare,” is at least partially vindicated.

But it’s even worse than that. Earlier this year Ohio’s Warren County exposed how liberalized eligibility rules are allowing many households who reasonable people would contend have no right to receive Food Stamp benefits to get them. That, and journalistic errors the Times committed in reporting it, will be the subject of Part 3.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

Reviewing NYT’s Food Stamp Report, Part 1 of 3: Paper Cheers Growth, Loss of Stigma

FoodStampMontageIn a long Saturday report on the Food Stamp program that went into print on Sunday, the New York Times’s Jason DeParle and Robert Gebeloff:

  • Almost seemed to celebrate the program’s explosive growth.
  • Bemoaned the fact that many who could participate do not.
  • Both in their title (“Food Stamp Use Soars, and Stigma Fades”) and text, cheered the loss of stigma that has long been associated with the program.
  • Failed to note not only gross and net benefit increases during the past two years that have far outpaced real inflation in food prices, but also the loosening of eligibility rules in many states, including Ohio.
  • Speaking of Ohio, omitted key facts and injected blatant bias into a situation from earlier this year in the Buckeye State’s Warren County that outraged those who believe the program was meant only for those who would truly suffer if its benefits weren’t available.

DeParle’s and Gebeloff’s work is part of a Times series that “examines how the safety net is holding up under the worst economic crisis in decades.” My series of posts on the pair’s report with have three parts. This first one will deal with the first three items listed above.

What follow are excerpts touching on each the first three items just mentioned, followed by my reactions.

Celebrate, Celebrate

With food stamp use at record highs and climbing every month, a program once scorned as a failed welfare scheme now helps feed one in eight Americans and one in four children.

It has grown so rapidly in places so diverse that it is becoming nearly as ordinary as the groceries it buys. More than 36 million people use inconspicuous plastic cards for staples like milk, bread and cheese, swiping them at counters in blighted cities and in suburbs pocked with foreclosure signs.

That 36 million represents just under 12% of the nation’s population, and is up from a 28.4 million average during 2008.

I suspect that many who have seen with their own eyes what some Food Stamp recipients buy with their benefits might see the healthy items DeParle and Gebeloff as cleverly selective and woefully incomplete.

Desiring More Dependency

Although the program is growing at a record rate, the federal official who oversees it would like it to grow even faster.

“I think the response of the program has been tremendous,” said Kevin Concannon, an under secretary of agriculture, “but we’re mindful that there are another 15, 16 million who could benefit.”

Nationwide, food stamps reach about two-thirds of those eligible, with rates ranging from an estimated 50 percent in California to 98 percent in Missouri.

There’s something out of whack going on when a government official calls the growth of an entitlement program “tremendous.” Cloward-Piven’s stated desire for “’a massive drive to recruit the poor onto the welfare rolls’ in an effort to overwhelm the system” comes to mind.

The 15-16 million stat cited is as big as it is at least partially because of loosened eligibility rules that have taken effect during the past year or so. I will address that in a later part.

California’s alleged 50% participation shortfall is a little hard to believe, given that the percentage of the state’s population on traditional “welfare” (now known as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families [TANF], which was called Aid to Families with Dependent Children [AFDC] until the mid-1990s) is more than triple that of the rest of the USA, as of September 2008:

CaliVsUSwelfareGraphs0609

The second graph above shows that California’s caseload has grown during the past few years, while the rest of the nation’s has declined.

So Californians seem quite willing to go on welfare, but are reluctant to sign up for Food Stamps? That doesn’t compute. It may be that the 50% figure is artificially low because that the not-so-Golden State has millions of illegal immigrants who might be financially “eligible” but are by law prevented from receiving benefits. Or it could be that California’s state-supplemented traditional welfare benefits are high enough to keep many of those recipients from qualifying for Food Stamps.

Destigmatizing Dependency

Support for the food stamp program reached a nadir in the mid-1990s when critics, likening the benefit to cash welfare, won significant restrictions and sought even more. But after use plunged for several years, President Bill Clinton began promoting the program, in part as a way to help the working poor. President George W. Bush expanded that effort, a strategy Mr. Obama has embraced.

The revival was crowned last year with an upbeat change of name. What most people still call food stamps is technically the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP.

Geez, usage “plunged for several years” because the economy during the late-1990s was pretty good. It perhaps also went down because millions left the TANF/AFDC rolls. Many who did so probably lost interest in receiving government handouts in general.

It would be interesting to see if the Times ever noted that Bush 43 expanded the Food Stamp promotional effort while he was actually in office. I somehow doubt it. The promotional credit the Times assigns to Mr. Clinton is dubious. As you’ll see from the history, program participation as percentage of the population didn’t begin to increase until 2002 (2001′s increase was smaller than the overall population increase).

I also suspect that many in the poverty/social services industry were less than pleased that welfare reform in 1996 reduced their client base, and after a few years figured out that going more aggressively after Food Stamp participation would ward off the otherwise declining level of dependency and perhaps help them secure their government jobs.

Robert Rector at the Heritage Foundation is quoted in the article as saying that the program has in essence morphed into something that is “really not different from cash welfare.” It’s hard to disagree with Rector, especially in light of what I will address in the second and third parts of this series.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

Positivity: U.S. bishops launch Advent and Christmas website

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 7:14 am

From Washington:

Nov 29, 2009 / 08:55 pm (CNA).- The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has created an Advent and Christmas website with suggestions for daily prayers, readings, reflection and action. A collection of Lessons and Carols is also provided for live listening or download.

Printable calendars in English and Spanish are one new feature of the site, a USCCB press release says. They suggest a family activity for each day of Advent, which begins on Nov. 29, and for each day of the Christmas Season.

Many of the calendar’s reflections are taken from four of the collections from the Spiritual Thoughts Series by Pope Benedict XVI: “Following Christ,” “The Priesthood,” “Mary” and “The Saints.”

The Festival of Lessons and Carols, a service of Scripture and song that dates to the late 19th century, is available for download at the site. It also lists recommended holiday-themed movies, prayers and blessings from the USCCB publication, “Catholic Household Blessings and Prayers.”

…. The Advent/Christmas web site is at http://www.usccb.org/advent/

Go here for the full story.

November 29, 2009

How to Make ‘the Homeless Problem’ Disappear

Have a Democrat President in office.

Haven’t heard much (total unique listings on “homelessness rising” not in quotes from November 24-28 are really only 22), have you?

November 28, 2009

WSJ’s ‘The Uncertainty Economy’ Also Inadvertently Flags the POR Economy’s Beginning

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 1:16 pm

They name the malaise, but not the timing, which I’ll take care of

What last month had appeared to be third-quarter growth of 3.5% in gross domestic product turns out to have been a more modest 2.8%. Consumer spending was pared back to 2.9% from 3.4%. The cash-for-clunkers subsidy produced fewer new-vehicle purchases than first estimated. In short, we aren’t getting much bang for our $787 billion stimulus bucks. But you already knew that.

…. The panicked Democrats’ biggest problem is that Congress and the President have erected the biggest overhang of economic policy uncertainty that anyone can remember.

One big difference between Washington and private markets is that politicians think everything they do is free-standing. Markets, however, combine all the potential costs of Washington’s policies and then decide whether to invest, or not.

Guess what?

They’re not, and nobody can make them do it when they don’t want to (yet).

“The Uncertainty Economy” is just another name for the POR (Pelosi-Obama-Reid) Economy, the one we’ve been living in since mid-2008. That’s when the needle in the uncertainty meter started into the red. It went to “iceberg ahead” during the September-October 2008 bailout fiasco. It’s been reading “man the lifeboats” since the 2008 presidential election returns came in.

During the era of uncertainty the POR Economy ushered in, quarterly annualized GDP changes have been -2.7%, -5.4%, -6.4%, -0.7%, and +2.8% (pending one more revision).

I do agree with Democrats who are all of a sudden discovering that Tim Geithner is an awful Treasury Secretary. One reason they don’t want him around is that more of the truth about his role in creating the current mess is emerging (see AIG).

At NYT’s Dot Earth: Young Scientist ‘Disheartened’ by Climategate; Core Problems Ignored

ClimategateNew York Times environment reporter Andrew C. Revkin had a post yesterday that was primarily about an open letter from Judith Curry. Revkin describes her as “a seasoned climate scientist at Georgia Tech …. (who) has no skepticism about a growing human influence on climate.”

Revkin writes that “Dr. Curry has written a fresh essay that’s essentially a message to young scientists potentially disheartened in various ways by recent events.”

Here are some of the key paragraphs from Curry’s letter that touch on that matter:

Based upon feedback that I’ve received from graduate students at Georgia Tech, I suspect that you are confused, troubled, or worried by what you have been reading about ClimateGate.

…. What has been noticeably absent so far in the ClimateGate discussion is a public reaffirmation by climate researchers of our basic research values: the rigors of the scientific method (including reproducibility), research integrity and ethics, open minds, and critical thinking. Under no circumstances should we ever sacrifice any of these values; the CRU emails, however, appear to violate them.

…. (one student wrote to me that) “The content of some of the emails literally made me stop and wonder if I should continue with my PhD applications for fall 2010, in this science. I was so troubled by how our fellow scientists within the climate community have been dealing with opposing voices (on both sides).”

…. So with this reaffirmation of core climate research values, I encourage you to discuss the ideas and issues raised here with your fellow students and professors. Your professors may disagree with me; there are likely to be many perspectives on this.

…. A better understanding of the enormous policy implications of our field should imbue in all of us a greater responsibility for upholding the highest standards of research ethics. Hone your communications skills; we all need to communicate more effectively. Publish your data as supplementary material or post on a public website. And keep your mind open and sharpen your critical thinking skills. My very best wishes to you in your studies, research, and professional development. I look forward to engaging with you in a dialogue on this topic.

Curry’s correspondence is nice, but peripheral to the core problems Climategate exposes.

What’s notably lacking in Revkin’s report, Curry’s letter, and many other Climategate-related establishment media reports is any willingness to entertain the notion that the scandal completely undermines the scientific basis for the argument that AGW (anthropogenic global warming) is occurring.

It seems that no one will dare say that the pathetic state of the data described in the leaked e-mails and the demonstrated willingness of those who control it to massage it hollows out the entire core of the AGW argument, because as I understand it there is no other comparable data set.

Short of creating a fresh batch of comprehensive, transparent, auditable, and totally traceable data supporting the existence of AGW, at this point it is currently barely more than a hypothesis — marginally no better or worse than one which might theorize that the earth is cooling and humans are causing that.

Separately, my hypothesis is that troubled science students, rather than focusing on how to deal with outsiders, are primarily shaken up by the conduct of scientific insiders, and the relatively nonchalant reaction to it. That would lead students entering scientific pursuits to logically fear that:

  • The quality of their work, and ultimately their career progress, will be judged not on rigor or merit, but on how well that work fits pre-existing templates.
  • If their work is at first supported but then called into doubt, they will be pressured to tamper with or conceal underlying research data to refute and rebuff doubters instead of engaging their arguments.
  • They may end up in constant, daily, stressful battle with colleagues whose primary interest is in advancing political or ideological agenda.

Given that those caught red-handed cooking the books and playing hide-and-seek with the data have yet to see any meaningful sanctions or discipline for what they have done, students would logically fear that if they fight for scientific values when they are compromised by political factors, they will be fighting alone and ostracized by their peers.

Though their number is unfortunately shrinking, there are still other fields of life endeavor that don’t have this kind of potential ugly baggage.

Thus, I believe that Ms. Curry’s letter barely scratches the surface in attempting to articulate students’ sadly valid concerns.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org. Graphic created at NewsBusters.

Rom Houben: Culture of Death Is Not Impressed

Filed under: General,Health Care,Life-Based News,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 12:24 am

Houbens

It’s nice that the story of Rom Houben has recently made the news. I carried it as one of my own “Positivity” posts earlier this week.

A Google News Search on “Rom Houben Laureys” (not typed in quotes; Laureys is the last name of Houben’s principal doctor) at about 11:30 p.m. ET came back with 1,528 results relating to the word of his amazing recovery and ability to communicate after 23 years of being “comatose.” That same search also comes back with 197 results questioning the legitimacy of his recovery. That number appears likely to grow, as the core article leading those results was only 8 hours old when this post was prepared.

From Brussels, the Associated Press’s Raf Cassert gave voice to the doubters, while avoiding one of the real reasons why they’re engaged in their doubting:

Coma recovery case attracts doubters

Rom Houben’s mother remembers her son’s amazement when he finally started communicating again after spending 23 years locked in a paralyzed body that was misdiagnosed as vegetative.

“Early on, he was surprised that the words came out of his finger,” Fina Nicolaes said. “Now, he is busy writing a book.”

However, his communication, with the help of a speech therapist holding his hand punching a touch screen, is stirring controversy only days after the story of his comeback as a fully conscious man entombed in an immobile body captured the world’s imagination.

It has scholars questioning the technique of facilitated communication, bloggers denouncing it as a cruel farce, and millions asking as they watch the video of Houben’s hand being held as it quickly types into the screen — who is really doing the punching here?

Dr. Steven Laureys understands the questions and said he might ask the same if he did not know the patient. And he said there is only one way to address the doubters — science.

“For me, there are two questions: Is he conscious? Can he communicate? That is ‘yes’ twice,” he said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press.

…. when news of Houben’s recovery and the video hit the world this week, some people immediately began raising doubts. Bioethics professor Arthur Caplan of the University of Pennsylvania was among the first — calling the practice of facilitated communication “Ouija board stuff.”

The British Psychological Society, through clinical neurologist Dr. Graham Powell echoed that view, arguing there is nothing in scientific literature to support using facilitated communication as it’s been used with Houben.

Caffert left out at least two important things:

  • That Laureys believes that roughly 4 in 10 patients believed to be in a persistent vegetative state really aren’t. This brings echoes of 2005′s Terri Schiavo situation, where doctors and the courts persisted in giving Terri’s husband Michael the permission to starve and dehydrate her to death based on his word alone that it’s what Terri would have wanted. Laureys’s position makes him a target.
  • That Penn professor Caplan is not an objective observer. In 2005, Caplan told CNN that he, in CNN’s words, “supports the Texas law giving the hospital the right to make life or death decisions eveen if the family disagrees. ‘There are occasions when family members just don’t get it right,’ he said. ‘No parent should have the right to cause suffering to a kid in a futile situation.’”

Cassert, as seen above, added another person who agreed with Caplan. He didn’t find any scientist who agreed with Laureys or who would comment positively on Houben’s progress. It’s hard to believe that finding one would have required a lot of effort.

In other words, Cassert’s coverage is not only not balanced, it is badly out of balance.

It’s quite interesting that the press is so willing to give the doubters their due in this instance, while those who doubt something that has, with the emergence of Climategate, apparently been subjected to far more manipulation than anything Laureys might have done to steer his patient in any given direction, get the back of the hand treatment from the media.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

November 27, 2009

Deconstructing ClimateGate’s Smoking-Gun E-mail

A leading light of climate change inadvertently exposes AGW’s crumbling foundation.

__________________________________________________________

Note: This column went up at Pajamas Media and was teased and extended here at BizzyBlog on Wednesday.

The evidence that the human-caused global-warming/climate change effort may constitute one of the biggest scams in all of human history continues to mount. The contents of e-mails and other data surreptitiously obtained from a UK climate research facility add further fuel to that already burning-hot fire.

Predictably, while pretending to give the incident and its fallout reasonable coverage, the establishment media has generally ignored the most damning e-mail of them all. Authored by Kevin Trenberth, head of the Climate Analysis Section at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado, it addresses what has been happening with temperature changes in recent years, i.e.,  not a lot, with a slight cooling trend.

Trenberth’s note reacts to an October 9 article by Paul Hudson, a weather presenter and climate correspondent at the previously climate hysteria-infested BBC. In “What happened to global warming?” Hudson had the unmitigated gall to note that, “For the last 11 years we have not observed any increase in global temperatures. And our climate models did not forecast it, even though man-made carbon dioxide, the gas thought to be responsible for warming our planet, has continued to rise.”

Hudson, clearly in response to heavy criticism, reiterated his article’s original theme in a follow-up blog post, writing that “None of the climate models suggested that global temperatures would not rise any further for at least another 10 years, which is what we have observed.”

Taken at face value and combined with even a modicum of common sense, Trenberth’s treatment of Hudson’s piece and his other accompanying comments clearly cast serious doubt on the scientific credibility and integrity of the entire AGW (anthropogenic global warming) enterprise (bold is mine):

From: Kevin Trenberth
To: Michael Mann
Subject: Re: BBC U-turn on climate
Date: Mon, 12 Oct 2009 08:57:37 -0600

Cc: Stephen H Schneider , Myles Allen , peter stott , “Philip D. Jones” , Benjamin Santer , Tom Wigley , Thomas R Karl , Gavin Schmidt , James Hansen , Michael Oppenheimer

Hi all

Well I have my own article on where the heck is global warming ? We are asking that here in Boulder where we have broken records the past two days for the coldest days on record. We had 4 inches of snow. The high the last 2 days was below 30F and the normal is 69F, and it smashed the previous records for these days by 10F. The low was about 18F and also a record low, well below the previous record low.

This is January weather (see the Rockies baseball playoff game was canceled on saturday and then played last night in below freezing weather).

….. The fact is that we can’t account for the lack of warming at the moment and it is a travesty that we can’t. The CERES data published in the August BAMS 09 supplement on 2008 shows there should be even more warming: but the data are surely wrong. Our observing system is inadequate.

CERES stands for The Clouds and the Earth’s Radiant Energy System run by NASA.

Trenberth has “acknowledged the e-mail is genuine,” according to Kim Zetter at Wired’s Threat Level blog. His e-mail leaves two alternatives:

  1. There really is a “lack of warming at the moment” (a decade-plus “moment”).
  2. Warming is still occurring, but “our observing system is inadequate,” i.e., “we can’t trust those lying thermometers and other temperature-measuring devices. It can’t be computer-modeled CERES data, which is telling us what we want to believe.”

Per Zetter, Trenberth’s defense in the wake of the e-mail’s release chooses Door Number 2:

“It says we don’t have an observing system adequate to track it, but there are all other kinds of signs aside from global mean temperatures — including melting of Arctic sea ice and rising sea levels and a lot of other indicators — that global warming is continuing,” he says.

He can protest until the methane-generating cows come home, but the following implication of Trenberth’s trembling response is inescapable: “Even though we’ve relied on them all along to build our case, we suddenly can’t rely on temperature measurements to prove or disprove the existence of global warming. Our models nonetheless simply have to be right.” His back-up argument if the temps are indeed correct — which would mean that the model generating “the CERES data” and other similar simulations will have been proven to be flawed — would be, “Well, even if the models are wrong, we still have proof in melting Arctic sea ice, rising sea levels, etc.”

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, whose work Trenberth cites in a recent paper to support his belief that “global warming is unequivocally happening,” doesn’t name any other factors beyond temperature, ice, and sea levels in the pull quote of its “Summary for Policymakers” — “Warming of the climate system is unequivocal, as is now evident from observations of increases in global average air and ocean temperatures, widespread melting of snow and ice, and rising global average sea level”.

So unless Trenberth has something meaningful in the “lot of other indicators” he casually cites in his response to his e-mail’s release, he and his brethren are in a heap of trouble. That’s because by his own logic, temperature measurements have to be rejected as credible evidence. Further, his presumptive, supposedly settled-science arguments about Arctic sea ice and rising sea levels melt upon only a cursory review.

It isn’t totally obvious that the overall sea ice is on a serious long-term melting trend. In fact, from what is “the lowest coverage ever recorded in the summer of 2007,” “the (Arctic) ice coverage rebound(ed) back to more near normal coverage” over the next winter. There is also a considerable debate as to whether “Antarctic Ice Is Growing, Not Melting Away,” or whether it “May Not Be Losing Ice As Fast As Once Thought.”

It’s even less clear that sea levels are meaningfully rising; the preponderance of the evidence is that they are not. In fact, Nils-Axel Mörner, the head of the Paleogeophysics and Geodynamics Department at Stockholm University in Sweden, who is described as “one scientist who knows more about sea levels than anyone else in the world,” asserts that the rising sea levels claim is “the greatest lie ever told.”

Well, there’s a lot of competition for that title, but this nifty little chart from Mörner shows that fears of catastrophic rises in one controversial area hold very little water:

MornersSeaLevelGraphC2009

If you look at 2050, forty-one long years from now, you’ll see that Mörner predicts a mean possible rise of about 0.05 meters, or just under two inches. That’s not much more than a millimeter per year.

The alarmists are kidding, right?

Wrong. The purveyors of global warming baloney, or “globaloney” as yours truly and many others have been calling their belief system for years, are hell-bent on totally reconfiguring the world’s industrial and commercial structure through cap-and-trade, and completely transforming its political order through transnational agreements such as the one under consideration next month in Copenhagen. They are bound and determined to have a world-run body assume an unprecedented level of control over the everyday actions of absolutely everyone, everywhere on the globe.

Before you do that, guys and gals, you’re going to have to present compelling evidence. Level, slightly declining, and/or not credible temperature readings; faulty computer models; ice caps that may or may not be melting; and sea levels that may or may not be rising by less than the thickness of a dime annually won’t cut it. Kevin Trenberth and the globaloney in-crowd seem to have known all of this for quite some time. That is the unforgivable element of the scandal.

Geithner Under Fire, Perhaps Being Shown the Door

ObamaAndGeithner0109Things are so bad for Tim Geithner, who shouldn’t have been appointedin the first place, and should have resigned back in March, that even a column in Forbes (“The Gathering Geithner Storm”) by Thomas Cooley designed to buck him up for the tough times ahead acknowledges the horrid job he did running the Federal Reserve in New York, particularly with the AIG situation:

The most recent bump in the road has been the scathing criticism of Geithner by Neil Barofsky, the TARP special inspector, over the funneling of taxpayer funds intended to bailout AIG to its counterparties including Goldman Sachs. As the report put it:

“There is no question that the effect of the FRBNY’s decisions–indeed, the very design of the federal assistance to AIG–was that tens of billions of Government money was funneled inexorably and directly to AIG’s counterparties.” And the report was particularly critical of the fact that there was no attempt to extract haircuts from the counterparties–they were all paid 100 cents on the dollar.

As a result, the conspiracy theorists are having a field day. Consider their fuel:

As president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, Geithner worked very closely with Henry Paulson–his predecessor as Treasury Secretary and before that head of Goldman Sachs–as was warranted by the situation.

Geithner’s primary deputy at the New York Fed was William Dudley, a former Goldman Sachs economist.

The chairman of the Board of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York until May 2009 was Stephen Friedman, former Chairman of Goldman Sachs, and a member of the Goldman’s board at the time of his New York Fed service.

Friedman also chaired the search committee that selected Geithner’s replacement–William Dudley.

At the time his former Goldman Sachs colleague Dudley was appointed–December 2008–Friedman purchased an additional $3 million of Goldman stock in violation of the rules.

Now ask yourself, surrounded by this crowd of influences, how likely is it that Geithner would have asked Goldman Sachs to take a serious haircut on their AIG positions?

You don’t have to be a black helicopter fan to recognize that the proximity of the small world that is Wall Street to the very institutions and public servants who are meant to regulate them can seriously compromise their credibility. This proximity and the fact that Wall Street ran amok on Geithner’s watch as president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York–the top regulator–has damaged his credibility in his current role.

With all due respect, Mr. Cooley, I don’t think there’s a lot of “theory” left to this conspiracy. AIG was a first-order fiasco, and the only question is whether Geithner was a conspirator or so utterly incompetent that he got taken for billions by the rest of them.

It would appear that Geithner’s time is short. The Wall Street Journal editorial I cited earlier the morning pointed out that “not a peep of support emerged for Mr. Geithner from the Obama White House.”

I think Democrats are concluding that forcing Geithner’s resignation is an act of self-preservation. The longer he hangs around, the more likely it is that clearer evidence will continue to come out that the whole September-October 2008 bailout that created TARP and marked the beginning of direct state investment in private entities was either totally unnecessary or was caused by his stumbling and fumbling. They can’t have that.

They calculate that the establishment media will consider any new information important only if Geithner is still around, and will ignore it as “old news” if he’s not. They’re probably correct.

Positivity: Thomas Hufford, medical miracle

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 6:00 am

From Cincinnati:

Published: Wednesday, November 18, 2009
Updated: Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Thomas Hufford, 76, of Loveland, endured a massive heart attack in his urologist’s office Sept. 29. Now, doctors consider him a miracle.

Thomas experienced 25 minutes without blood circulation, and in order to save his life, Dr. Andrew Burger at University Hospital put him into a hypothermic protocol.

The core body temperature was decreased to approximately 75 degrees.

“He was so cold,” said Janet Hufford, his wife. “I’d feel his arm and it was like a rock. Just frozen. But they knew what they were doing.”

Thomas continued the hypothermia therapy to prevent brain damage and alleviate the stress on vital organs.
In the condition of hypothermia, the body reduces its need for oxygen and the chemical reactions associated with injury, according to the American Heart Association.

“We had no idea how he was going to respond,” Janet said. “The doctors said ‘we’re going to thaw him out now,’ and they tested his reactions.”

Thomas spent 10 days undergoing hypothermia therapy. Once he regained full function on Oct. 8, Dr. J. Michael Smith, chief of cardiac surgery at University Hospital, assessed him and decided he was fit for coronary artery bypass surgery.

“My arteries were so blocked the doctors said it was like going through concrete,” Thomas said. “They had to pull veins out of my legs – they couldn’t use a stint.”

Smith was unable to perform an angioplasty because of intense calcification of his arteries and moved to a bypass as the next viable option.

“What I did was no big deal,” Smith said. “What was a big deal was the doctors who put him into the hypothermic protocol and saved his life, saved his brain.”

Smith released Thomas Oct. 13, confident in a full recovery with very little damage to the heart after the massive heart attack.

“Dr. Smith was great and very personable,” Janet said. “It was scary, but I trusted them.” ….

Go here for the rest of the story.

November 26, 2009

Positivity: George Washington’s Thanksgiving Proclamation

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 6:01 am

This post is a BizzyBlog Thanksgiving tradition.

______________________________________________

Link:

General Thanksgiving
By the President of the United States of America
A PROCLAMATION

WHEREAS it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favour; and Whereas both Houses of Congress have, by their joint committee, requested me “to recommend to the people of the United States a DAY OF PUBLIC THANSGIVING and PRAYER, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness:”

NOW THEREFORE, I do recommend and assign THURSDAY, the TWENTY-SIXTH DAY of NOVEMBER next, to be devoted by the people of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be; that we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection of the people of this country previous to their becoming a nation; for the signal and manifold mercies and the favorable interpositions of His providence in the course and conclusion of the late war; for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty which we have since enjoyed;– for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enable to establish Constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national one now lately instituted;– for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge;– and, in general, for all the great and various favours which He has been pleased to confer upon us.

And also, that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech Him to pardon our national and other transgressions;– to enable us all, whether in publick or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually; to render our National Government a blessing to all the people by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed; to protect and guide all sovereigns and nations (especially such as have shewn kindness unto us); and to bless them with good governments, peace, and concord; to promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and us; and, generally to grant unto all mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as he alone knows to be best.

GIVEN under my hand, at the city of New-York, the third day of October, in the year of our Lord, one thousand seven hundred and eighty-nine.

(signed) G. Washington

November 25, 2009

Positivity: Pre-Thanksgiving Perspective

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 8:45 pm

Note: A slightly different version of this post originally went up in November 2007. Evening update: Moved to the top.

__________________________________

I saw this about halfway through this post at Obi’s Sister. It was written to make a political point, which is fine, but it also makes a universal one (paragraphing added by me):

A neighbor (say her name is Mary) sees her other neighbor (say her name is Nancy) and decides to make her a pie. She bakes a lovely pie the next day and takes it next-door. Nancy is overwhelmed that her neighbor would be so thoughtful and thanks her profusely.

The next week, Mary makes her another pie. When she takes it over, Nancy thanks her again, but with less enthusiasm.

The next week, Mary makes her another pie. When she takes it over, Nancy just says “Thanks.”

The next week, Mary makes her another pie. When she takes it over, Nancy says, “Thanks, and you’re a day late this time.”

The next week, Mary makes her another pie. When she takes it over, Nancy says “Thanks, but next time, can you make a cherry pie instead of apple? I’m getting tired of apple.”

The next week, Mary makes her another pie. When she takes it over, Nancy says “You know, if you put a little less sugar in the crust and didn’t handle it so long, the crust wouldn’t be tough.”

The next week, Mary has lots to do and forgets to make her pie. When she walked by Nancy’s house, she stuck her head out the door and yelled, “Hey! Where’s my pie?”

How quickly gratitude turns into a jaded sense of entitlement.

…. Why don’t we go back to the original idea? Simple people, pioneers really, expressing their pure and heartfelt gratitude …. A humble heartfelt thanksgiving. Not a holiday, but a state of mind.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.

Happy Thanksgiving, Mike; Please Drop Out

Filed under: Marvels,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 1:03 pm

YostAndNoDeWine1109

I really do wish Mike and Fran DeWine, their family, and his extended family a happy and blessed Thanksgiving.

But really, what I want to receive from from Fran and Mike is not what arrived in my e-mail box this morning:

DeWineThanksgivingLtr112509

Mike, Mike, Mike.

You’re not lobbying for Fran to win the next Pillsbury Bake-Off (Warning: Clicking on an empty stomach may cause serious hunger pangs).

You’re running for Attorney General of the State of Ohio — Though I must admit that the recipes of Fran and your relatives look quite scrumptious (they’re here and here, respectively; who said that this blog isn’t practical?).

In stark contrast to your opponent Dave Yost, you haven’t been able to deliver anything politically filling during the months since you declared your candidacy. That particular cupboard must be bare.

Absent contrary evidence, you should withdraw and enjoy future quiet and joyous Thanksgivings with your extended family, and leave the governing to someone who has the ideas and energy to get it right.

LAT Breaking: Obama Going to Copenhagen, No Mention of Climategate

GlobalWarmingWho’s denyin’ now?

There may not be a better example of establishment media Climategate denial than Jim Tankersley’s “breaking” story at the Los Angeles Times’s Greenspace blog that President Barack Obama will attend the December 7-19 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, Denmark.

Tankersley identifies all kinds of supposed factors that seem to have influenced the president’s alleged change of heart on attending, while ignoring one that seems more than a little possible — the need to get some kind of one-world commitment done before enough of the world learns of the fraud that is Climategate.

Here are some excerpts from in-the-tank Tankersley (HT Hot Air Headlines):

Breaking news from Washington reporter Jim Tankersley:

President Obama will attend the international climate negotiations in Copenhagen next month, according to a senior administration official, a sign of the president’s increasing confidence that the talks will yield a meaningful agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The White House will also announce today that the United States will commit, in the talks, to reduce its emissions of the heat-trapping gases scientists blame for global warming “in the range of” 17 percent below 2005 levels by 2020, the official said. That’s the target set out in the climate bill the House passed in June.

The president will address negotiators on Dec. 9, just after the opening of the two-week summit, on his way to pick up the Nobel Peace Prize in nearby Sweden. His speech will come ahead of planned visits by prominent heads of state from Europe and around the world, and before the talks are expected to reach their most frenzied pitch.

White House officials said the decision to attend came after productive climate discussions between Obama and the heads of China and India, two developing nations whose participation is seen as critical to any successful effort to avert catastrophic climate change.

Those discussions left the president optimistic that his presence in Copenhagen could seal a meaningful – though not legally binding – climate deal, meeting the standard that Obama previously set for his attendance at the summit, the officials said.

…. Several nations key to the talks, including the United States and China, have conceded in recent weeks that negotiations have proceeded too slowly to produce a legally binding treaty in Copenhagen. Instead, those nations are now aiming for a sort of executive summary of a future treaty to be completed next year; that summary would nevertheless include critical issues such as emissions reduction pledges for individual nations.

…. Environmentalists were cheered by the news — at least in part.

“Obviously, we are glad that President Obama will be in Copenhagen in the early part of the climate summit,” said Keya Chatterjee, the climate director for World Wildlife Fund. “It’s important that his words during this important moment convey that the United States intends to make climate change a legislative priority, not simply a rhetorical one.

“If it becomes necessary to secure the right commitments,” she added, “the President must also be willing to return to Copenhagen with the rest of the world’s leaders during the final stages of the negotiations.”

Well, TV is ignoring it, except for Fox (which is why it really is fair and balanced), and much of the rest is employing a hysterical double standard on not using surreptitiously obtained material — an exposure problem that obviously didn’t exist in instances running over several decades, from as early as Daniel Ellsburg’s Pentagon Papers to Sarah Palin’s hacked e-mails last year.

Thus, this would appear to be another example where commenters will have to deliver the news to Tankersley’s other blog readers to bring them and an establishment media journalist into reality.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

‘Hide the Decline’

Filed under: Economy,Environment,Scams,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 11:38 am

Original vid link (HT Instapundit):

The Climategate e-mail in question:

From: Phil Jones
To: ray bradley, mann@XXXX, mhughes@XXXX
Subject: Diagram for WMO Statement
Date: Tue, 16 Nov 1999 13:31:15 +0000

Dear Ray, Mike and Malcolm,

Once Tim’s got a diagram here we’ll send that either later today or first thing tomorrow.

I’ve just completed Mike’s Nature trick of adding in the real temps to each series for the last 20 years (ie from 1981 onwards) amd from 1961 for Keith’s to hide the decline. Mike’s series got the annual land and marine values while the other two got April-Sept for NH land N of 20N. The latter two are real for 1999, while the estimate for 1999 for NH combined is +0.44C wrt 61-90. The Global estimate for 1999 with data through Oct is +0.35C cf. 0.57 for 1998.

Thanks for the comments, Ray.

Cheers
Phil

Prof. Phil Jones
Climatic Research Unit Telephone XXXX
School of Environmental Sciences Fax XXXX
University of East Anglia
Norwich