Monday, January 23, 2012

I Finally Understand Democrats (American Thinker)


By Johnny Alamo

After years of puzzlement and curiosity observing modern day Democrats, I think I have finally figured them out.

I'm constantly amazed that modern Democrats have evolved beyond living in caves. I mean what other animal on this planet can disregard all common sense and logic and survive? Scientists have recently discovered that even giant sea slugs that do not possess a brain as such can learn from past experiences. That puts them a leg up over the current crop of liberals in this country. I used to subscribe to the adage that liberalism was a mental disorder, but even Rainman would have a hard time buying into the standard mantra of the present day Democratic Party. In order to believe that Democrats have the answer today, you would have to believe:

That you can grow the entitlement class beyond the taxpayer class and never hit critical mass where there is no money left.

That using the military to oust a murderous thug dictator in 2003 was criminal, and using the military to oust a murderous thug dictator in 2011 was noble.

That the best way to grow the wealth of the private sector is to take all the money out of it.

That the best way to make us energy independent is to block any effort to produce more petrocarbons in this country.

That the best way to create jobs is to increase taxes and regulations on the job creators.

That the best way to stop arms from this country from getting into the hands of the drug cartels in Mexico is to provide arms to the drug cartels in Mexico.

That all the ills of the economy are due to the fat cat banks and other corporations, and the best way to deal with that is to provide billions in bailouts to the fat cat banks and other corporations.

That more unemployment checks create more jobs.

That investigating the background of George W Bush to the point that you have color photographs of his colon is proper vetting of the Chief Executive, but asking for Barack Hussein Obama's college records or for information on his association with a known terrorist is racist.

That somehow making firearms illegal will prevent criminals from using them.

That the life of a murderer on death row is sacred, but an unborn baby's is not.

That the best way to overcome our racist past is to enforce racist affirmative action policies.

That people who are too ignorant to get a free state issued I.D. card are smart enough to vote.

That the best way to overcome our current spending crisis is to spend more money.

That the federal government with no competition can provide a better health care product than the private sector with competition can.

That a grandma in a wheelchair is a bigger potential threat on an airplane than a guy with a name that takes phlegm to pronounce.

That we need to be sensitive to the feelings of people that subscribe to a religion that teaches that we all should submit to their version of righteousness or face beheading, but should demean and diminish those that believe in the religion that teaches we should love and embrace our neighbors no matter what religion they belong to.

That poll watchers who want to ensure that election laws are observed and the vote is without fraud are intimidating voters, and black radicals with clubs in front of a polling place are not.

That ice ages and the warming periods in between were not caused by man's influence on the earth but a half degree rise in average temperatures over 30 years is.

That using the equivalent of two gallons of fossil fuel to produce one gallon of ethanol makes sense because it is "renewable."

That a picture of a female guard in Abu Ghraib pointing at the genitals of a terrorist and laughing is deplorable but those same goofballs setting off an IED and killing our troops are just freedom fighters.

That a 70 year old woman with a Gadsden flag is a radical but an OWS protestor that defecates on a police car and breaks windows of businesses is a frustrated citizen.

That in spite of the fact that one third of the world is hungry it makes more sense to use food for fuel than drilling for a fuel source that nobody can eat.

The simple fact is that Democrats are the Dodo birds of the human race. The Dodo was discovered by Portuguese explorers in the late 1500's. The name comes from the Portuguese word "Doudo" which means simpleton. They called this bird a simpleton because in their minds it lacked any common sense whatsoever. That lack of common sense or survival instinct eventually led to its demise as a species.

Wait a minute, that's not really fair of me, I shouldn't equate Democrats to a simple minded flightless bird that was too stupid to run from predators. The Dodo had a job foraging for food.

Page Printed from: at January 23, 2012 - 07:40:57 AM CST

Saturday, January 21, 2012

The End Of Social Norms, From The Titanic To The Concordia

By MARK STEYN Posted 01/20/2012 06:47 PM ET

Abe Greenwald of Commentary magazine tweets: "Is there any chance that Mark Steyn won't use the Italian captain fleeing the sinking ship as the lead metaphor in a column on EU collapse?"

Oh, dear. You've got to get up early in the morning to beat me to civilizational-collapse metaphors. Been there, done that. See page 185 of my most recent book, where I contrast the orderly, dignified and moving behavior of those on the Titanic (the ship, not the mendacious Hollywood blockbuster) with that manifested in more recent disasters.

There was no orderly evacuation from the Costa Concordia, just chaos punctuated by individual acts of courage from, for example, an Hungarian violinist in the orchestra and a ship's entertainer in a Spiderman costume, both of whom helped children to safety, the former paying with his life.

The miserable Captain Schettino, by contrast, is presently under house arrest, charged with manslaughter and abandoning ship. His explanation is that, when the vessel listed suddenly, he fell into a lifeboat and was unable to climb out. Seriously. Could happen to anyone, slippery decks and all that.

Next thing you know, he was safe on shore, leaving his passengers all at sea. On the other hand, the audio of him being ordered by Coast Guard officers to return to his ship and refusing to do so is not helpful to this version of events.

In the centenary year of the most famous of all maritime disasters, we would do well to consider honestly the tale of the Titanic. When James Cameron made his movie, he was interested in everything except what the story was actually about.

I confess I have very little memory of the film except for Kate Winslet's lush full breasts and some tedious sub-Riverdance prancing in the hold, but what I do recall traduced the memory of honorable men:

In my book, I cite First Officer William Murdoch. In real life, he threw deckchairs to passengers drowning in the water to give them something to cling to, and then he went down with the ship — the dull, decent thing, all very British, with no fuss. In Cameron's movie, Murdoch takes a bribe and murders a third-class passenger.

The director subsequently apologized to the First Officer's hometown in Scotland and offered 5,000 pounds toward a memorial, which converted into Hollywood dollars equals rather less than what Cameron and his family paid for dinner after the Oscars.

© Mark Steyn, 2012

© Mark Steyn, 2012

Read the rest here

Friday, January 20, 2012

Debunking the Greenhouse Gas Theory in Three Simple Steps (from Co2


By: John O’Sullivan

A group of international scientists find that carbon dioxide is a coolant, the calculations in the greenhouse gas theory are wrong and humans are not killing the planet.

It may have taken the Climategate controversy to prompt a growing band of specialist scientists to come forward and work together to help climatologists get themselves out of an almighty mess. But at last we know for sure that the doomsaying equations behind the man-made global warming new research shows the numbers were fudged, the physics was misapplied and group thinking perpetuated gross errors.

Yes, the greenhouse effect has now been proven to be a fabrication. That mythical concept called ‘back radiation’ whereby heat was supposed to be recycled in the atmosphere and worsened by the dreaded burning of fossil fuels is contradicted. In reality it’s now been shown that the atmosphere acts like a coolant of Earth’s surface, which, otherwise, would have a temperature of 121 Degrees Celsius, or 394 Kelvin (K).

A team of dedicated international experts, known as the ‘Slayers,’ all highly qualified in their respective fields, spent the past year deliberating over the deep-rooted errors in the calculations employed in the greenhouse gas theory. Their findings are devastating to all those who claim carbon dioxide and the ‘greenhouse effect’ heats our atmosphere.

The standard argument of a clique of climatologists associated with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is as follows:

  • A warm body (the earth) radiates heat to a cool body (the atmosphere)
  • The cool body “back-radiates” (IPCC term) heat to the warm body.
  • This process continues perpetually, with heat flowing round and round in a continuous cycle.
  • The result of this perpetual process is that the warm body becomes warmer.

This is the so-called greenhouse effect (GHE) examined closely by a team of professors of physics, mathematics, astrophysics, chemistry and biology who joined forces to put the numbers under a fresh microscope.

This group of 20+ specialist scientists has given the infant (and generalist) science of climatology a much-need shake up. Indeed, the ‘Slayers’ say a monumental paradigm shift is now very much under way.

Below, in simplified form, we examine in three parts how their brilliant analysis has eviscerated one of the most costly and mistaken theories of modern science, man-made global warming.

Part One: Coolant Carbon Dioxide

In a recent ground breaking paper Professor Nasif Nahle proved that carbon dioxide (CO2) actually works as a coolant when it interacts with water vapor in the atmosphere to induce the air temperature to cool not a warm.

Physicist, Joe Postma, in this epic debunk further describes the correct application of the laws of thermodynamics to address how the thermal capacity (or conductivity) works with the ‘coolant’ CO2. As Postma tells us,

“Carbon dioxide and other atmospheric gases merely serve to make the atmosphere cooler in daytime, warmer at nighttime. This is what empirical evidence tells us. ”

He asks us to think of how this interpretation differs from what the uneducated and pseudo scientists say that is “the greenhouse effect makes the planet warmer than it should be.” But we know that in truth what we actually observe is somewhat entirely different.

In the future, says Joe, people will declare: “The atmosphere keeps the planet from getting too hot in the daytime, and too cold at night-time”.

Just that simple realization alone kills the so-called ‘blanket’ analogy of greenhouse gas theorists stone dead.

Step Two: How the IPCC Picked Wrong Numbers from the Get-go

Now we address the IPCC’s biggest mistake. They started off with a flawed number, and then have to invent lots of other unreal processes and mechanisms to make the real Earth’s average temperature coincide with their numbers.

Professor Nasif Nahle points out that error in IPCC models:

“It’s quite simple. The flux of power on the top of the atmosphere is 1368 W/m^2; however, they [IPCC] say it is 341 W/m^2.”

Without an atmosphere, the Earth would be receiving a flux of 1368 W/m^2 of solar power (394K under the zenith facing the Sun). With the atmosphere, it receives and absorbs 718 W/m^2 (335K) on its surface.

Postma, a recent addition to the team sums up how much getting those first numbers right matters:

“We all agree that the atmosphere has an “atmosphere effect.” But what is of interest to us is how this effect changes if the properties of the atmosphere changes (a little).”

In this excellent paper geologist, Timothy Casey, gives a calculation for how much temperature variation will be caused by changes in CO2. It tells us:

“If carbon dioxide produced the backradiation claimed by Arrhenius, thermal conductivity measurements of carbon dioxide would be so suppressed by the backradiation of heat conducted into this material, that the correspondingly steep temperature gradient would yield a negative thermal conductivity of carbon dioxide.”

What Casey shows is that in reality, a 10,000 ppm increase in carbon dioxide could, at most, reduce the conductivity of air by a measly one percent and given the actual difference between the thermal conductivities of carbon dioxide (0.0168) and zero grade air (0.0260), a 10,000 ppm increase in carbon dioxide would lower the thermal conductivity of zero grade air by 0.36 percent.

Casey finds,

“That would represent a 0.36 percent increase in thermal gradient, or a surface warming of 0.18 percent and a ceiling cooling of 0.18 percent of the total difference in temperature between the top and bottom of the affected air mass. In the case of a tropospheric carbon dioxide increase of 10,000 ppm, that would correspond to a warming of 0.125ÂșC, or one eighth of a degree Celsius at the earth’s surface.”

“However, even if this wasn’t a negligible enough effect, Casey finds the proverbial doubling of CO2 would only contribute a change of 0.0040C at the surface”.

Step Three: Exposing the Idiocy

Groupthink is ‘Step Three’ in our explanation of how climatology got itself into such a muddle. Here’s a perfect example of scientific idiocy displayed by someone who ought to know better. Postma shows how a reality disconnect by one such theorist makes a mockery of IPCC numbers when applied to the real world. He explains,

“Yesterday a professor tried to tell me that a blackbody (BB) would heat itself up if its radiation would shine back on it – if it was surrounded completely by a perfect mirror.

I told him that all that would happen is you’d get a standing electromagnetic wave between the BB and the mirror, with a frequency spectrum and flux density equal to that of the BB – there’d be no spontaneous increase of temperature. 50C is 50C and there’s no way to get more than 50C, from 50C. The only way to get more than 50C is to bring in some outside work or something hotter than 50C.”

Postma then enlightened the perplexed professor that it’s impossible to make candles or insulation warm itself by its own radiation. “If we could make a candle burn hotter by reflecting it’s light back onto it, that would have been discovered long ago.”

The Slayers thus ask us to put it all in terms of radiation and conduction being analogous modes of heat transfer. Then it becomes plainly obvious and ridiculous.

Like his learned colleagues Postma suggests climatologists apply a little more common sense and joined up thinking; their heat transport equations should properly be addressed in terms of conduction such that radiation and conduction are simply MODES of heat transfer. If an object can heat itself via its own, or “colder” radiation, then it should also be able to heat itself by conducting with itself, or conducting with a cold body.

“An object conducting with itself to make itself hotter? What the heck does that even mean? An object conducting with a colder one and thereby becoming hotter? I don’t think so,” insists Postma.

Thus when we start to accept that conduction and radiation are analogous modes of heat transfer, then it dawns on us all that the laws work the same way with both of them.

Therefore, by working through this ‘Three Step Greenhouse Effect Debunk’ we are left with only one conclusion: IPCC junk (generalist) science is well and truly busted by the specialists in their fields.

Source: John O’Sullivan

Thursday, January 19, 2012

The Icelandic Saga Continues (The Fraud is Breathtaking)


January 18, 2012
tags: ,

By Paul Homewood

Just to recap, we have learnt that GISS temperatures for Iceland and Greenland have been artificially adjusted, with the result that current temperatures appear much warmer than when compared with the warm period during the 1940’s. Temperature data for Reykjavik from the Iceland Met Office confirmed that this adjustment was wholly artificial and resulted in a net warming of about a half a degree centigrade since 1940 and that the actual mean temperatures in the last decade are about a degree less than GISS show.

I also have data from the Iceland Met Office for two other stations, Stykkisholmur and Akureyri and these show the same pattern of adjustments as the graphs below illustrate.



In both cases the temperatures from 1940 to 1964 have been adjusted downwards, and as with Reykjavik the overall effect is to create about a half a degree of warming.

On further investigation, it appears that the adjustments have actually been carried out by GHCN, whose figures GISS use. The changes seem to have taken place when they issued a revised version, 3.1, of their database in November 2011. The GHCN website gives access to all their stations and shows both adjusted and unadjusted data. Examination of these records confirms that, out of eight stations in Iceland, seven have had such artificial warming applied, e.g


The top right hand graph (red) is the unadjusted version, middle one is adjusted, and the bottom one graphs the adjustment (blue is minus, red plus).

Evidence is already building up that these adjustments are not limited to only Iceland. Similar adjustments have already been found in Greenland, Ireland and Scotland.

This issue raises several points of concern :-

1) These are palpably not “one-off” adjustments, which might be justified for station location changes or other local reasons. Have they been made as a result of a deliberate decision by GHCN, or are they the result of an error or a faulty piece of software?

2) If the result of error, what does this tell us about the quality control procedures at GHCN and GISS?

3) How many other similar adjustments have been made previously that have not been spotted? Would these have been uncovered without the attention of independent observers?

4) If GHCN believe the adjustments are justified, why have they not published their results and reasons for discussion, before issuing the revision? According to their CHANGELOG “GHCNMv3.1.0 is released with several minor corrections and a reworking of internal arrays for more efficient operations.” No mention of large scale temperature adjustments!

5) What assurance do we have that more changes of this sort won’t be made in future?

Friday, January 13, 2012

I believe in Tim Tebow (Rick Reilly) ESPN.COM

Tim Tebow and Jacob
Tim Tebow with Jacob Rainey, one of the many people dealing with health problems Tebow hosted at Broncos games this season.

I've come to believe in Tim Tebow, but not for what he does on a football field, which is still three parts Dr. Jekyll and two parts Mr. Hyde.

No, I've come to believe in Tim Tebow for what he does off a football field, which is represent the best parts of us, the parts I want to be and so rarely am.

Who among us is this selfless?

Every week, Tebow picks out someone who is suffering, or who is dying, or who is injured. He flies these people and their families to the Broncos game, rents them a car, puts them up in a nice hotel, buys them dinner (usually at a Dave & Buster's), gets them and their families pregame passes, visits with them just before kickoff (!), gets them 30-yard-line tickets down low, visits with them after the game (sometimes for an hour), has them walk him to his car, and sends them off with a basket of gifts.

Home or road, win or lose, hero or goat.

Remember last week, when the world was pulling its hair out in the hour after Tebow had stunned the Pittsburgh Steelers with an 80-yard OT touchdown pass to Demaryius Thomas in the playoffs? And Twitter was exploding with 9,420 tweets about Tebow per second? When an ESPN poll was naming him the most popular athlete in America?

Tebow was spending that hour talking to 16-year-old Bailey Knaub about her 73 surgeries so far and what TV shows she likes.

"Here he'd just played the game of his life," recalls Bailey's mother, Kathy, of Loveland, Colo., "and the first thing he does after his press conference is come find Bailey and ask, 'Did you get anything to eat?' He acted like what he'd just done wasn't anything, like it was all about Bailey."

More than that, Tebow kept corralling people into the room for Bailey to meet. Hey, Demaryius, come in here a minute. Hey, Mr. Elway. Hey, Coach Fox.

Even though sometimes-fatal Wegener's granulomatosis has left Bailey with only one lung, the attention took her breath away.

"It was the best day of my life," she emailed. "It was a bright star among very gloomy and difficult days. Tim Tebow gave me the greatest gift I could ever imagine. He gave me the strength for the future. I know now that I can face any obstacle placed in front of me. Tim taught me to never give up because at the end of the day, today might seem bleak but it can't rain forever and tomorrow is a new day, with new promises."

I read that email to Tebow, and he was honestly floored.

"Why me? Why should I inspire her?" he said. "I just don't feel, I don't know, adequate. Really, hearing her story inspires me."

It's not just NFL defenses that get Tebowed. It's high school girls who don't know whether they'll ever go to a prom. It's adults who can hardly stand. It's kids who will die soon.

For the game at Buffalo, it was Charlottesville, Va., blue-chip high school QB Jacob Rainey, who lost his leg after a freak tackle in a scrimmage. Tebow threw three interceptions in that Buffalo game and the Broncos were crushed 40-14.

"He walked in and took a big sigh and said, 'Well, that didn't go as planned,'" Rainey remembers. "Where I'm from, people wonder how sincere and genuine he is. But I think he's the most genuine person I've ever met."

There's not an ounce of artifice or phoniness or Hollywood in this kid Tebow, and I've looked everywhere for it.

Take 9-year-old Zac Taylor, a child who lives in constant pain. Immediately after Tebow shocked the Chicago Bears with a 13-10 comeback win, Tebow spent an hour with Zac and his family. At one point, Zac, who has 10 doctors, asked Tebow whether he has a secret prayer for hospital visits. Tebow whispered it in his ear. And because Tebow still needed to be checked out by the Broncos' team doctor, he took Zac in with him, but only after they had whispered it together.

And it's not always kids. Tom Driscoll, a 55-year-old who is dying of brain cancer at a hospice in Denver, was Tebow's guest for the Cincinnati game. "The doctors took some of my brain," Driscoll says, "so my short-term memory is kind of shot. But that day I'll never forget. Tim is such a good man."

This whole thing makes no football sense, of course. Most NFL players hardly talk to teammates before a game, much less visit with the sick and dying.

Isn't that a huge distraction?

Tim Tebow with Zac
Not everything Tim Tebow does on one knee is controversial. Ask Zac Taylor.

"Just the opposite," Tebow says. "It's by far the best thing I do to get myself ready. Here you are, about to play a game that the world says is the most important thing in the world. Win and they praise you. Lose and they crush you. And here I have a chance to talk to the coolest, most courageous people. It puts it all into perspective. The game doesn't really matter. I mean, I'll give 100 percent of my heart to win it, but in the end, the thing I most want to do is not win championships or make a lot of money, it's to invest in people's lives, to make a difference."

So that's it. I've given up giving up on him. I'm a 100 percent believer. Not in his arm. Not in his skills. I believe in his heart, his there-will-definitely-be-a-pony-under-the-tree optimism, the way his love pours into people, right up to their eyeballs, until they believe they can master the hopeless comeback, too.

Remember the QB who lost his leg, Jacob Rainey? He got his prosthetic leg a few weeks ago, and he wants to play high school football next season. Yes, tackle football. He'd be the first to do that on an above-the-knee amputation.

Hmmm. Wonder where he got that crazy idea?

"Tim told me to keep fighting, no matter what," Rainey says. "I am."

Follow Rick on Twitter @ReillyRick

Love the column, hate the column, got a better idea? Go here.

Rick Reilly is the 11-time National Sportswriter of the Year. He contributes essays and commentary to "Monday Night Countdown," "SportsCenter," and ESPN/ABC golf and tennis coverage. He's also the host of "
Homecoming," ESPN's unique, one-hour interview show set in the hometowns of legendary athletes. For more Rick, check out the archive

Feel like taking a detour from sane sports? Try Rick's latest book, "Sports from Hell."

The Myth of Income Inequality

January 13, 2012 By 8 Comments

By David A. Milstein,

January 13, 2012

For years, the Left led by President Obama and aided by the robots in the media have continued to say there is a growing income gap in America. They say the rich are getting richer and the poor are being left behind. President Obama recently stated in his weekend address to the nation, “Over the past three decades, the middle class has lost ground while the wealthiest few have become even wealthier.” The recent flurry of news stories came as a result of a new Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report that concluded: “From 1979 to 2007, real (inflation-adjusted) average household income… for households at the higher end of the income scale rose much more rapidly than income for households in the middle or at the lower end of the income scale.”Not surprisingly, the Left jumped all over the airwaves to promote the report and argued for the need for higher taxes and redistribution. Yet some of the conclusions from studies like the CBO report can be extremely misleading and perpetuate fallacies about income and upward mobility in America.

First, the broad claims are true that categorically the top 1% continue to have higher income. The top 1%, like all levels, will continue to grow with technology, innovation and investment. We should be very worried if the opposite happened. Yet the problem with studies like the CBO report is they only take statistical, bracket snapshots of household income and fail to follow the growth of individual income over that same period of time, let alone measure the constant individual movement between the brackets. As pointed out by renowned economist Thomas Sowell in his must-read new book Economic Facts and Fallacies; there is a huge difference between measuring household, individual and categorical data and our focus should instead be on the movement of individuals, not bracket growth.

Here is what he means. Despite the conventional wisdom, a 2007 IRS, Treasury report studied individual tax returns rather than income brackets. It found between the years 1996 and 2005, those individuals whose income were in the top 1% and 5% in 1996 actually saw a decline in their income by 2005. On the flip side, the IRS and Treasury found that the individual income for those in the bottom 20% in 1996 had an average income increase of 91% by 2005, almost doubling their income. They also found “roughly half of taxpayers who began in the bottom income quintile in 1996 moved up to a higher income group by 2005.”

The difference in conclusions is simple: individuals move between income categories all the time. If someone who makes $70,000 a year and sells their $200,000 house in a given year, the snapshot of that given year will show much higher income. The same goes for a wealthy investor whose income could drop after losing a large investment. These categories create the illusion that those who fill each bracket actually remain fixed there each year.

Second, it is very misleading to use household income levels as a way to measure the income gap. Today, fewer people live in the average household. As a result, total household income has decreased. In fact, the latest 2010 Census report actually found there are almost five times more earners among wealthier households than those at the bottom, and those at the top are usually more educated and married. Quite logically, those at the bottom are usually single-family households, young adults and less educated. As you can see, it is easy for the household data to paint the wrong picture of income in America.

And finally, there is a major difference between income and wealth. Seniors rely on Social Security or dividend payments from their stocks for much of their income once they retire. But the decrease in their income doesn’t mean they are now categorically poor. In fact in a 17-page rebuke of the CBO report, Rep. Paul Ryan noted that much of these studies don’t account for transfer payments. It also ignores the wealth that seniors have accumulated throughout their lives.

If I wanted to use Obama’s argument, a recent Census Bureau report highlighted by Investors Business Daily shows the greatest average household income gap in the last thirty years actually occurred under President Clinton and those at the very top actually lost income under President Bush. But it is extremely misleading. It only shows a snapshot of the distribution of income during specific years. Instead we should focus on the individual income and recognize people move between multiple income levels throughout their lifetime. Upward mobility, or even a loss of income is the essence of risk, reward, success and failure that happens within a capitalistic, opportunity society. The Left has successfully created many economic fallacies like this one to promote their redistribution plans of taking more from the rich to give to the poor. In reality, it will simply lead to a contraction in the private sector and everyone financially worse off. Rather than pushing for equal outcome that would only punish the more successful, we should instead promote equal opportunity to ensure greater upward mobility. This is the principle that makes us an exceptional nation.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Climate Science (a Consensus?)

Dec 31, 2011

Four Professors testify before the Canadian Senate Committee

The four submissions on December 15th to the Senate Committee by Drs. Clark, McKitrick, Veizer and Patterson) have been reformatted with all the slides by Tom Harris of ICSC. As Dr. Clark says of his presentation, it is his climate course packaged into ten minutes and for a lay audience.

Ian Clark:

Ross McKitrick:

Tim Patterson:

Jan Veizer:

Happy New Year? by Mark Steyn (From National Review Online)



By Mark Steyn

December 31, 2011 7:00 A.M.

Ring out the new, ring in the old.

No, hang on, that should be the other way around, shouldn’t it? Not as far as 2011 was concerned. The year began with a tea-powered Republican caucus taking control of the House of Representatives and pledging to rein in spendaholic government. It ended with President Obama making a pro forma request for a mere $1.2 trillion increase in the debt ceiling. This will raise government debt to $16.4 trillion — a new world record! If only until he demands the next debt-ceiling increase in three months’ time.

At the end of 2011, America, like much of the rest of the Western world, has dug deeper into a cocoon of denial. Tens of millions of Americans remain unaware that this nation is broke — broker than any nation has ever been. A few days before Christmas, we sailed across the psychological Rubicon and joined the club of nations whose government debt now exceeds their total GDP. It barely raised a murmur — and those who took the trouble to address the issue noted complacently that our 100 percent debt-to-GDP ratio is a mere two-thirds of Greece’s. That’s true, but at a certain point per capita comparisons are less relevant than the sheer hard dollar sums: Greece owes a few rinky-dink billions; America owes more money than anyone has ever owed anybody ever.

#ad#Public debt has increased by 67 percent over the last three years, and too many Americans refuse even to see it as a problem. For most of us, “$16.4 trillion” has no real meaning, any more than “$17.9 trillion” or “$28.3 trillion” or “$147.8 bazillion.” It doesn’t even have much meaning for the guys spending the dough: Look into the eyes of Barack Obama or Harry Reid or Barney Frank, and you realize that, even as they’re borrowing all this money, they have no serious intention of paying any of it back. That’s to say, there is no politically plausible scenario under which the 16.4 trillion is reduced to 13.7 trillion, and then 7.9 trillion, and eventually 173 dollars and 48 cents. At the deepest levels within our governing structures, we are committed to living beyond our means on a scale no civilization has ever done.

Our most enlightened citizens think it’s rather vulgar and boorish to obsess about debt. The urbane, educated, Western progressive would rather “save the planet,” a cause which offers the grandiose narcissism that, say, reforming Medicare lacks. So, for example, a pipeline delivering Canadian energy from Alberta to Texas is blocked by the president on no grounds whatsoever except that the very thought of it is an aesthetic affront to the moneyed Sierra Club types who infest his fundraisers. The offending energy, of course, does not simply get mothballed in the Canadian attic: The Dominion’s prime minister has already pointed out that they’ll sell it to the Chinese, whose Politburo lacks our exquisitely refined revulsion at economic dynamism, and indeed seems increasingly amused by it. Pace the ecopalyptics, the planet will be just fine: Would it kill you to try saving your country, or state, or municipality?

Last January, the BBC’s Brian Milligan inaugurated the new year by driving an electric Mini from London to Edinburgh taking advantage of the many government-subsidized charge posts en route. It took him four days, which works out to an average speed of six miles per hour — or longer than it would have taken on a stagecoach in the mid–19th century. This was hailed as a great triumph by the environmentalists. I mean, c’mon, what’s the hurry?

What indeed? In September, the tenth anniversary of a murderous strike at the heart of America’s most glittering city was commemorated at a building site: The Empire State Building was finished in 18 months during a depression, but in the 21st century the global superpower cannot put up two replacement skyscrapers within a decade. The 9/11 memorial museum was supposed to open on the eleventh anniversary, this coming September. On Thursday, Mayor Bloomberg announced that there is “no chance of it being open on time.” No big deal. What’s one more endlessly delayed, inefficient, over-bureaucratized construction project in a sclerotic republic?

Barely had the 9/11 observances ended than America’s gilded if somewhat long-in-the-tooth youth took to the streets of Lower Manhattan to launch “Occupy Wall Street.” The young certainly should be mad about something: After all, it’s their future that got looted to bribe the present. As things stand, they’ll end their days in an impoverished, violent, disease-ridden swamp of dysfunction that would be all but unrecognizable to Americans of the mid–20th century — and, if that’s not reason to take to the streets, what is? Alas, our somnolent youth are also laboring under the misapprehension that advanced Western societies still have somebody to stick it to. The total combined wealth of the Forbes 400 richest Americans is $1.5 trillion. So, if you confiscated the lot, it would barely cover one Obama debt-ceiling increase. Nevertheless, America’s student princes’ main demand was that someone else should pick up the six-figure tab for their leisurely half-decade varsity of Social Justice studies. Lest sticking it to the Man by demanding the Man write them a large check sound insufficiently idealistic, they also wanted a trillion dollars for “ecological restoration.” Hey, why not? What difference is another lousy trill gonna make?

#page#Underneath the patchouli and pneumatic drumming, the starry-eyed young share the same cobwebbed parochial assumptions of permanence as their grandparents: We’re gayer, greener, and groovier, but other than that it’s still 1950 and we’ve got more money than anybody else on the planet, so why get hung up about a few trillion here and a few trillion there? In a mere half century, the richest nation on earth became the brokest nation in history, but the attitudes and assumptions of half the population and 90 percent of the ruling class remain unchanged.

Auld acquaintance can be forgot, for a while. But eventually even the most complacent and myopic societies get reacquainted with reality. For anyone who cares about the future of America and the broader West, the most important task in 2012 is to puncture the cocoon of denial. Instead, the governing class obsesses on trivia: just to pluck at random from recent Californian legislative proposals, a ban on non-fitted sheets in motels, mandatory gay history for first graders, car seats for children up to the age of eight. Why not up to the age of 38? Just to be on the safe side. And all this in an ever more insolvent jurisdiction that every year drives ever more of its productive class to flee its borders.

#ad#Tens of millions of Americans have yet to understand that the can can no longer be kicked down the road, because we’re all out of road. The pavement ends, and there’s just a long drop into the abyss. And, even in a state-compliant car seat, you’ll land with a bump. At this stage in a critical election cycle, we ought to be arguing about how many government departments to close, how many government programs to end, how many millions of government regulations to do away with. Instead, one party remains committed to encrusting even more barnacles to America’s rusting hulk, while the other is far too wary of harshing the electorate’s mellow.

The sooner we recognize the 20th-century entitlement state is over, the sooner we can ring in something new. The longer we delay ringing out the old, the worse it will be. Happy New Year?

— Mark Steyn, a National Review columnist, is the author of After America: Get Ready for Armageddon. ©2011 Mark Steyn