September 30, 2011

AP Whitewashes EPA’s Lawless Failure to Follow Review Protocol in GHG Finding, Throws in AGW ‘Overwhelming Consensus’ Claim

On Wednesday, the Environmental Protection Agency’s Inspector General issued a report on the agency’s “compliance with established policy and procedures” in connection with its “Greenhouse Gases Endangerment Finding.” This was the finding that “greenhouse gas,” or “GHG” emissions, including carbon dioxide, are in essence forms of air pollution, endanger public health, and must therefore be regulated.

As would sadly be expected, what the IG actually found and what the Associated Press’s Dina Cappiello reported about the IG’s findings sharply differ. Here’s what IG Arthur A. Elkins, Jr. wrote in his press statement:

… EPA did not certify whether it complied with OMB’s or its own peer review policies in either the proposed or final endangerment findings as required. While it may be debatable what impact, if any, this had on EPA’s finding, it is clear that EPA did not follow all required steps for a highly influential scientific assessment. …

… EPA disagreed with our conclusions and did not agree to take any corrective actions in response to this report. All the report’s recommendations are unresolved.

The IG’s “At a Glance” document tells us that the EPA blew off the need to engage in any further scientific study (bolds are mine throughout this post):

In our opinion, the TSD (Technical Support Document) was a highly influential scientific assessment because EPA weighed the strength of the available science by its choices of information, data, studies, and conclusions included in and excluded from the TSD. EPA officials told us they did not consider the TSD a highly influential scientific assessment. EPA noted that the TSD consisted only of science that was previously peer reviewed, and that these reviews were deemed adequate under the Agency’s policy. EPA had the TSD reviewed by a panel of 12 federal climate change scientists. This review did not meet all OMB requirements for peer review of a highly influential scientific assessment primarily because the review results and EPA’s response were not publicly reported, and because 1 of the 12 reviewers was an EPA employee.

no supporting documentation was available to show what analyses the Agency conducted prior to disseminating the information.

The idea that imposing greenhouse gas regulations on the entire economy based on a “scientific assessment” demonstrating some kind of harm isn’t “highly influential” is absurd on its face.

In essence, the IG said: “This was a big decision deserving rigorous study.” The EPA’s response, in essence: “It’s settled science. Bug off.”

The full 99-page report is here. A key point in the report is at Page 8, namely that the admitted failure by the EPA to follow the procedures required when “highly influential scientific assessments” are involved represents a violation of the 2000 Data Quality Act and the processes that were developed as a result of that act. In other words, the EPA broke the law.

That certainly isn’t how the AP’s Cappiello reported it. She turned “broke the law” into “cut corners.” In one of her earliest reports (produced in full because of its brevity), she also took the Al Gore-driven “the discussion is over” approach:

Report: EPA cut corners on climate finding

An internal government watchdog says that the Environmental Protection Agency cut corners when it produced a key scientific document underpinning its decision to regulate climate-changing pollution.

The Inspector General report, obtained by The Associated Press in advance of its release Wednesday, says the agency circumvented a more robust review process that was warranted for a technical paper supporting a costly and controversial decision to control greenhouse gases for the first time.

The EPA and White House disagreed with the report’s conclusions. They said the agency “reasonably interpreted” peer-review guidelines.

Nothing in the report challenges the overwhelming scientific consensus around the causes of global warming. But that’s unlikely to stop Republicans and industry lawyers from using it to say the Obama administration should not regulate greenhouse gases without Congressional action.

Note that the above rendition, time-stamped at 10:34 a.m. on Wednesday, was the probable basis for noontime radio and TV reports.

Apparently Cappiello or someone at AP felt that the “overwhelming scientific consensus” statement was a bit strong in one sense, but too vague in another. The expanded version of Cappiello’s report time-stamped at 4:58 p.m. Wednesday elaborated, and used it to make those who pointed out the obvious — that EPA didn’t do what it was legally required to do in the circumstances — look like outliers:

In 2010, a survey of more than 1,000 of the world’s most cited and published climate scientists found that 97% believe climate change is very likely caused by the burning of fossil fuels.

But by highlighting what it calls “procedural deviations,” the report provides ammunition to Republicans and industry lawyers fighting the Obama administration over its decision to use the 40-year-old Clean Air Act to fight global warming. While the Supreme Court said in 2007 that the act could be used to control greenhouse gases, the Republican-controlled House has passed legislation that would change that. The bill has so far been stymied by the Democratic-controlled Senate.

Sen. James Inhofe, the Oklahoma Republican who requested the investigation and one of Congress’ most vocal climate skeptics, said Wednesday the report confirmed that “the very foundation of President Obama’s job-destroying agenda was rushed, biased and flawed.”

Wyoming Sen. John Barrasso, another critic of EPA regulations, said the agency sacrificed scientific protocol for “political expediency.”

Here’s a translation of the first excerpted paragraph: “97% of those who are paid to do research whose continued funding depends heaving on coming up with conclusions that human-caused global warming is a problem agree that human-caused global warming is a problem.”

Well, I can match Ms. Cappiello’s 1,000 (actually 970) with more than 1,000 — the over 1,000 cited in a Climate Depot Special Report (321-page PDF):

This Climate Depot Special Report is not a “list” of scientists, but a report that includes full biographies of each scientist and their quotes, papers and links for further reading. The scientists featured in the report express their views in their own words, complete with their intended subtleties and caveats. This report features the names, biographies, academic/institutional affiliation, and quotes of literally hundreds of additional international scientists who publicly dissented from man-made climate fears. This report lists the scientists by name, country of residence, and academic/institutional affiliation. It also features their own words, biographies, and web links to their peer reviewed studies, scientific analyses and original source materials as gathered from directly from the scientists or from public statements, news outlets, and websites in 2007 and 2008.

The distinguished scientists featured in this new report are experts in diverse fields, including: climatology; geology; biology; glaciology; biogeography; meteorology; oceanography; economics; chemistry; mathematics; environmental sciences; astrophysics, engineering; physics and paleoclimatology. … Additionally, these scientists hail from prestigious institutions worldwide, including: Harvard University; NASA; National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR); Massachusetts Institute of Technology; the UN IPCC; the Danish National Space Center; U.S. Department of Energy; Princeton University; the Environmental Protection Agency; University of Pennsylvania; Hebrew University of Jerusalem; the International Arctic Research Centre; the Pasteur Institute in Paris; Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute; the University of Helsinki; the National Academy of Sciences of the U.S., France, and Russia; the University of Pretoria; University of Notre Dame; Abo Akademi University in Finland; University of La Plata in Argentina; Stockholm University; Punjab University in India; University of Melbourne; Columbia University; the World Federation of Scientists; and the University of London.

The Climate Depot report also notes that “Only 52 Scientists Participated in UN IPCC Summary.” This is the 2007 report from the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change which has been used as the basis for claiming that human-caused global warming is “settled science.” Some of the 52 participants are now among the identified dissenters.

The AP’s odiously pretentious report ultimately included contributions from Seth Borenstein, who infamously whitewashed the Climategate emails as no big deal (MSNBC’s’ headline: “Review: E-mails show pettiness, not fraud”). Items accumulated since the scandal first broke at NewsBusters emphatically demonstrate otherwise and cannot be wished away.

In regards to Cappiello’s current composition, two words: Settled, schmettled.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

Off-Topic (Moderated) Open Thread (093011)

Filed under: General — Tom @ 11:24 am

Rules are here.

Quotes of the Day: Jonah Goldberg on ‘Softness,’ and Joseph Kraft’s 1979 Indictment of … Obama

Filed under: Activism,Economy,Environment,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 9:35 am

The reference is to President Obama’s Thursday evening interview with a local NBC affiliate in Orlando, where he claimed that America has “gotten a little soft”:

I mean, there are a lot of things we can do. The way I think about it is, you know, this is a great, great country that had gotten a little soft and, you know, we didn’t have that same competitive edge that we needed over the last couple of decades. We need to get back on track.

There are many places to go with this stunning statement (given the source). I like Jonah Goldberg’s perspectives, particularly his final quip:

Seriously, in 2008 we elected a community organizer, state senator, college instructor first term senator over a guy who spent five years in a Vietnamese prison. And now he’s lecturing us about how America’s gone “soft”? Really?

The parallels to Jimmy Carter’s “malaise” are pretty obvious.

The great degree of parallel between Carter and Obama is also self-evident in the immediate reaction of columnist Joseph Kraft to Carter’s 1979 “Crisis of Confidence” speech found here:

CarterMalaiseJosephKraft1979

80% of what’s seen above could be written about Obama today, much of it more emphatically.

Let’s talk about someone whose position is “soft” and weak. Part of Carter’s 1979 self-resurrection strategy included firing much of his cabinet. Can you imagine the country’s reaction about our rudderless condition if Obama attempted a similar gambit?

The Higher Ed Bubble, and the Coming Student Loan Crackup

Filed under: Economy,Education,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 8:56 am

The Wall Street Journal, on yet another Obama administration-sponsored mess — student loans:

Washington’s Quietest Disaster
Student loan defaults are growing, and the worst is still to come.

When critics warned about rising defaults on government-backed student loans two years ago, the question was how quickly taxpayers would feel the pain. The U.S. Department of Education provided part of the answer this month when it reported that the default rate for fiscal 2009 surged to 8.8%, up from 7% in 2008.

This rising default rate doesn’t even tell the whole story. The government allows various “income contingent” and “income-based” repayment options, so the statistics don’t count kids who were given permission to pay less than they owed. Taxpayers shouldn’t expect relief any time soon.

… Universities have been efficient in pocketing the subsidies by increasing tuition after every expansion of federal support. That’s why education is a rare industry where prices have risen even faster than health-care costs.

This is also the rare market where the recent trend of de-leveraging doesn’t apply. An August report from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York found that Americans cut their household debt from a peak of $12.5 trillion in the third quarter of 2008 to a recent $11.4 trillion. Consumers have reduced their debt on houses, cars, credit cards and nearly everything except student loans, where debt has increased 25% in the three years.

Perhaps this is because most federal student loans are made without regard to income, assets or credit history. Much like the federal obsession to finance a home for every American regardless of ability to pay, the obsession to finance higher education for every high school student ignores inconvenient facts. These include the certainty that some of these kids will take jobs that don’t require college degrees and may not support timely repayment.

Like almost every federal program one sees, one word applies: unsustainable, this time with a bitter twist, in the form of so many young people who borrowed $50,000 or more, only to learn that their degrees qualify them in the POR (Pelosi-Obama-Reid) economy to drive cabs and dispense coffee. There’s nothing wrong and something noble about every job, so that’s not the point. The point is that kids and parents have been sold an expensive bill of goods by formerly affordable colleges who jacked up their rates far beyond what a normal market for education would ever have allowed, while the same politicians who enabled the situation messed up the economy to the point where the market for the services college grads could provide has seriously contracted.

I’m not optimistic that those affected understand why they are where they are, and who’s really responsible. “At least” the fact that the federal government nationalized the student loan business, by eliminating banks as the possible source of the blame, increases the chance that some will figure it out.

Positivity: 40 Days for Life Pro-Life Campaign Saving Lives Already

Filed under: Life-Based News,Positivity — Tom @ 6:00 am

From Columbia, Missouri:

It’s just the first day of the 40 Days for Life campaign … and I’ve already got great news to share! Let’s get right to it.

The 40 Days for Life team in Columbia holds its vigils outside a Planned Parenthood center that is the only abortion location between St. Louis and Kansas City.

Last Thursday — less than a week before the start of the campaign — the abortionist quit!

This is not the first time this has happened. Planned Parenthood in Columbia has gone through six different abortionists during the past two and a half years — and this facility has gone months at a time with NO ABORTIONS — including times DURING 40 Days for Life campaigns.

“Praise the Lord!” said Kathy in Columbia. “We know that God will do many miracles these 40 days!”

Planned Parenthood is referring women to its facility in St. Louis, so the prayers will continue in Columbia — and in St. Louis as well.

Go here for the rest of the story.

September 29, 2011

BLS Preliminary Comprehensive Jobs Adjustment: +192K

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 12:51 pm

Here’s another piece of “it beats the alternative” news to add to today’s reported drop in unemployment claims and the return to an annualized 1.3% for second-quarter GDP.

Ending a record of four straight years of declines, three of them very large, today’s “Current Employment Statistics Preliminary Benchmark Announcement” from the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that 192,000 more Americans were working in March 2011 than originally thought.

This will NOT be hard-wired into the BLS’s numbers until further work is done and figures are updated all the way to December 2011; that official update will occur in February 2012. The final number will be different, but past differences would predict that the number will almost definitely stay positive by 100,000 or more.

As noted earlier, it beats the final results of the four previous years, as seen here.

2Q11 GDP Revised Up to an Annualized +1.3% from +1.0%; Still No Full Recovery

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 9:48 am

The full government report on gross domestic product (GDP) is here. The revision takes us back to the original estimate released in July.

The economy still isn’t back to where it was three years ago in the second quarter of 2008, which means that the infamous Investor’s Daily chart comparing the current not-yet recovery to previous achieved recoveries still holds (current figure is at Table 3 in today’s report):

GDPnowVsRecessionBeginning2Q11inSept11

The third quarter of 2008 marked the first full quarter impacted by the POR (Pelosi-Obama-Reid) economy aka the Fear-Based Economy. The related recession the three named parties and their political party primarily caused ran through the second quarter of 2009.

In the eight quarters since, the economy still hasn’t returned to its pre-recession size, whether you peg its beginning as following 2008′s second quarter (as normally defined) or 2007′s final quarter (as the National Bureau of Economic Research subjectively and in my view erroneously does). As seen above, every other post-World War II recovery  required three or fewer quarters for the economy to get back to its pre-downturn level.

The POR economy is a living testimonial to Keynesianism’s collapse.

_______________________________________

UPDATE: To get back to where we were at the end of the second quarter of 2008 by the end of the third quarter of 2011, third-quarter growth will have to come in at an annualized +0.3%. To get to the 4Q07 level, it will have to be 0.4%. You would think that third-quarter growth will be at least that high unless something “unexpectedly” bad occurs — and we all know how rare that is. (/sarc)

Unemployment Claims: Some Relief at Last? (391K SA, 325K NSA)

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 9:09 am

From the Department of Labor:

SEASONALLY ADJUSTED DATA

In the week ending September 24, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 391,000, a decrease of 37,000 from the previous week’s revised figure of 428,000. The 4-week moving average was 417,000, a decrease of 5,250 from the previous week’s revised average of 422,250.

UNADJUSTED DATA

The advance number of actual initial claims under state programs, unadjusted, totaled 324,940 in the week ending September 24, a decrease of 28,880 from the previous week. There were 372,551 initial claims in the comparable week in 2010.

As usual, the previous week was adjusted upward, this time by 5,000. Given that the average upward adjustment in the past 29 weeks has been just over 4,000 and has never been more than 8,000, it seems certain that the current week will stay below 399,000 for first time since early April:

UnempClaimsAprilto092411

Zero Hedge’s take: “(this is) a two standard deviation improvement which seems extremely unlikely given the macro/micro backdrop.” According to Bloomberg, “(A DOL) official said the data probably reflected a “slight mistiming” in the seasonal factors used to modify the figures.”

Though I understand the perspectives, I’ll hold my fire and hope that this is the beginning of something better, especially since the NSA number — even assuming a typical upward revision next week — is the lowest since May 2008.

_________________________________

UPDATE: Business Insider’s email had a prediction of 420K. Finally, there’s something “unexpectedly” in a favorable direction.

Off-Topic (Moderated) Open Thread (092911)

Filed under: General — Tom @ 8:03 am

Rules are here.

Latest Pajamas Media Column (‘Two Bad Presidential Election Ideas Require Rejection’) Is Up

Filed under: Taxes & Government — Tom @ 7:59 am

It’s here.

It will go up here at BizzyBlog on Saturday (link won’t work until then) after the blackout expires.

The ideas I believe should be rejected are the “National Popular Vote” (NPV) and the practice of assigning electoral votes based on the popular vote in congressional districts instead of doing so in each state on a winner-take-all basis (which I call “CEV,” or “congressional electoral voting”).

The former is subversive and definitely unconstitutional, and the latter has significant unforeseen dangers.

Oh, Now Perdue Was Being ‘Sarcastic’ When She Was ‘Joking’

And of course NOW the Associated Press (unbylined, of course) decides to finally make it a national story:

NC gov: Just joking about suspending elections

Democratic North Carolina Gov. Beverly Perdue says she was being sarcastic when she suggested this week that congressional elections be suspended for two years to try to solve Washington gridlock.

North Carolina Republicans and those seeking to unseat her next year have criticized her comment.

Perdue spokeswoman Chris Mackey said Perdue was using hyperbole when she made the suggestion Tuesday. She said it would give members of Congress more breathing room to make decisions instead of worrying about another term in office. She was responding to an audience question.

And of course AP won’t relay the full quote.

Keep diggin’, babe. The hole only gets deeper.

Previous related posts are here and here.

Positivity: Stuart firefighter saved, quick reaction by co-workers

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 5:59 am

From Martin County, Florida (video at link):

A Palm Beach County firefighter and EMT is a lucky man today, after his co-workers saved his life. Brian Nethers is still in the hospital at Martin Memorial, but he realizes he is fortunate just to be alive.

“I can walk, talk, I can do things. I have no deficit at all,” said Nethers.

Nethers has just finished saving the life of a father who had a heart attack during a hockey game. He was cleaning up the ambulance when his co-workers noticed something wrong.

“One of my medics got in my face and said, ‘you don’t look so good. Are you alright?,” described Nethers.

The left side of his face was drooping and his left arm was getting weaker.

“Literally threw him on the stretcher, kept telling us no, no I’m fine. Luckily we were five-feet from the emergency room door,” said John Honeycutt, Stuart Fire Rescue.

“I was in denial. I’m going, I couldn’t have a stroke at the age of 51,” said Nethers.

But Nethers was having a massive stroke. Later doctors found four blood clots in his brain. But because he was rushed into the emergency room so quickly, a couple days later he’s nearly back to normal.

“Key to it is recognition and time, once that clock starts ticking, time is brain,” said Jane LaCombe, Martin Memorial.

Since Nethers was treated within three hours of his first symptoms, a drug known as TPA was given, dissolving fully the blood clots that started the stroke.

Despite fighting his friends at first and denying he was sick, Nethers now says he owes them a big thank you.

Nethers is only 51-years-old and in perfect health before his stroke. But experts say strokes can strike at any age. That’s why knowing the symptoms is critical.

Remember the acronym F.A.S.T. (Face, Arm, Speech, Time)

Go here for the rest of the story.

September 28, 2011

Herman Cain: I’d Get One-Third of the Black Vote (And the Impact If He’s Right)

Filed under: Health Care,Immigration,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 8:22 pm

Nicely done (HT to an emailer):

Cain believes that 1/3 of African-Americans would vote for him in a general election. I think he might exceed that.

He also says that he could support Mitt Romney if he means it about ObamaCare repeal, and that he could not support Rick Perry if he were the nominee based on his immigration- and border-related positions.

(Note: Very smart. Besides being principled, he disses the guy who’s stronger [Perry], and throws a bone at the guy who not only isn’t [Romney], but who will also never be convincing in his promise to repeal ObamaCare.)

Crunch the numbers and you realize that if Cain gets only 30% of the African-American vote instead of 1/3, and assuming a slightly lower African-American turnout due to a general pullback by younger people (15 million vs. 2008′s 15.9 million), Obama’s margin in the African-American community would shrink from 14.3 million to 6 million (hard to believe, but true, because McCain got only 5%). That 8.3 million vote difference is about 87% of Obama’s entire 9.7 million vote victory margin over John McCain in 2008.

Barack Obama would have to get a bit over 47% of the rest of the population to pull off a squeaker in the popular vote; he only got 48% in 2008. Though 13-1/2 months is forever in politics, based on the realities on the ground right now, there’s no way Barack Obama would get that today.

The Ford Commercial The White House Couldn’t Handle

Filed under: Business Moves,Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 6:02 pm

Posted at Heritage — for now:

What thin-skinned, authoritarian jerks.

Perdue Audio Surfaces: NOT Joking (Update: RN&O Reporter John Frank Responds)

You can play it below (weak quality, but good enough for evaluation purposes; should go to a separate tab or window; the “suspend elections for Congress” suggestion is at about the 0:33 mark; HTs to Drudge and the Daily Caller):

BevPerdueAudio

There is no chance that North Carolina Governor Beverly Perdue is “joking” — not even in a Steven Wright sense.

You won’t believe who has had the audio all along (well, if you’re cynical enough, you will) — the same guy at the Raleigh News & Observer who told everyone yesterday — trust him! — that it was a joke.

More shortly.

UPDATE: It’s over at NewsBusters.

UPDATE 2: This is such a damning story that it still isn’t at the Associated Press’s main national news site. In AP’s unbylined local North Carolina story from last night at 9:54 p.m. (no way this is a national story [/sarc]), the headline reads: “Governor Perdue Jokes about Congressional Elections.” Today’s audio doesn’t lie; no she wasn’t.

Any bets on whether AP will do an accurate update?

UPDATE 3: Rush Limbaugh, who has gone to posting transcripts of his show and other helpful items in near-real time at his web site, elaborates

… No laughter. No applause, either, but there was no laughter; there’s no jocularity there. This effort to say that she was just kidding is gonna fall flat because she wasn’t. She was dead serious.

… If they could get away with canceling elections, they would do it. That is who the Democrats of today are. That’s what the American left is all about.

… The Constitution doesn’t matter. Look at what the definition of “helping the country recover” is. Now, somebody sent me an e-mail, Rush: “Why would she do this? If they’re canceling the election she’s guaranteeing a huge Republican majority.” Well, they’re in a world of hurt. She wants to cancel the elections because 2012 could dwarf 2010 in terms of Republican victory/Democrat loss. What could happen in November next year… I’ll tell you if the election were in one month or two months, the Democrat Party would end up with the smallest number of elected representatives in the House of Representatives maybe in history.

UPDATE 5: RN&O reporter John Frank has just responded via email (bold is mine) –

Hey Tom,

This is John Frank, a political reporter at the News & Observer. I saw you picked up on Gov. Perdue’s remarks. The original headline was “Perdue suggest suspending Congressional elections for two years — was she serious?” It was updated later in the day to reflect the new information we received from the governor’s office, which called it “hyperbole.” Joke was used to suggest she wasn’t serious in the headline. I didn’t put joke in quotes though. I can assure you there is no case of bias — and folks on the Democratic and Republican side were both up in arms about the story/remarks.

The audio didn’t get posted until this morning because we had to edit it from a large file and it took the work of a few folks in the newsroom. Sorry we didn’t get it up faster.

I appreciate your interest in the story and thanks for reading. Let me know if you have any more questions.

John
John Frank
Staff Writer
The News & Observer

Sorry, John. No sale. If there were no bias, “joke” would have been in quotes. It wasn’t.

Because it wasn’t, a typical reader would take it to mean that it really was a joke. It wasn’t.

If you meant to communicate that Perdue or her peeps thought it was a joke, you would have put “joke” in quotes. You didn’t.

The excuse about the slow processing time for an obviously hot, time-sensitive audio is either pathetic or deceptive. Pathetic if, as I suspect, the audio involved was at the beginning of your recording of the event (likely, since you said that the audience member’s question “is not included on the tape because I didn’t flick my recorder on quickly enough”). Still pathetic, if RN&O couldn’t round anyone up to process audio pronto if you don’t know how to do it yourself. Deceptive, if you deliberately waited until this morning for the purpose of planting the seed that it was a joke (note that a local AP story bit on it last night) so that by the time we all found out that it really wasn’t it would be semi-old news.

To experience true nausea, check out Frank’s writeup of President Obama’s visit to North Carolina two weeks ago.

Read more: http://www.newsbusters.org/blogs/tom-blumer/2011/09/28/perdue-suspend-elections-congress-two-years-audio-surfaces-reporter-who-#ixzz1ZHqmiPRO