“The rapidly expanding number of Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW) dissenting international scientists, many rising from within the alarmists’ own ranks, has thoroughly shredded the misleading fallacy of “consensus.”

From: http://www.americanthinker.com/2009/01/climate_change_you_cant_believ.html
January 25, 2009
Climate: Change You Can’t Believe In
By Marc Sheppard

Barack Obama campaigned for the White House on a promise he’d deliver “change you can believe in.” And the popular totals suggest that 52% of voters believed indeed. But according to a recent Rasmussen Poll, there’s one change that only 41% of Americans can believe in – manmade climate change. That’s down from 47% just nine months ago, and before moving the country down an unpopular green-paved road to disaster, the “unity” promising freshman president would be well advised to understand why.

For starters, the rapidly expanding number of Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW) dissenting international scientists, many rising from within the alarmists’ own ranks, has thoroughly shredded the misleading fallacy of “consensus.” And a full decade sans warming and concluding with pronounced cooling despite ever-rising atmospheric CO2 levels has left Green House Gas (GHG) force-feeders with frosty egg on their faces. Remember the sea ice that doomsters warned would soon be gone? It’s now at the very same level it was in 1979. And the sea level rise of 3.1 mm/year the IPCC declared took place between 1993 and 2003 — purportedly as sea ice melted — decreased by 20% to 2.5 mm/year in the five years that followed. That historically natural, centuries-long gradual creep falls a tad short of portending Al Gore’s 20 foot tall civilization changing soaker.

We can’t even believe in “official” measurements, as data sets relied upon to track global temperatures have again been shown to be contaminated and otherwise compromised in an effort to heighten public hysteria. Ironically, to a populace once confused by the mass media’s heat hyping, clarity came not from scientific debate, nor CO2 concentration, nor bad data nor even ice and sea levels — but rather from cold reality.

Record low temperatures and snowfall have caused misery everywhere from Slovenia (-49°C) to Sioux City (-20°F), and that’s real change real people can believe in. Is it any wonder then that warnings of a coming ice age and forecasts of immediate sustained climatic cooling suddenly ring more plausible than those of a scorched and marginally inhabitable Roger Cormanesque planet laughably besieged by giant man-eating snakes, bubonic plague and even ravenous cannibals? Or that Thursday’s Pew Research Center poll ranked global warming dead last in a list of 20 issues Americans want the new administration to focus on? Dead last!

Tough break for Liberal policy makers — what with recent elections and political appointments breathing new hope into their lifelong dreams of commerce and lifestyle-dictating legislation and regulation, only to be dashed by the unpredictability of the very force they averred to predict.

So we’re seeing the offense from the now defense-playing alarmists accelerate and intensify, for fear that as current cooling trends continue, the percentage of those blindly believing will plunge precipitously. Their bluff called, they are, in effect, “all-in” and must now play the hand they have dealt themselves — and the world — or admit to their chicanery. That’s why newly installed House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Henry Waxman (D-CA) didn’t even wait for Inauguration Day to announce that “Comprehensive global warming legislation will be sent to the House floor by Memorial Day.”

With the clock running down, it’s all hysterical hands on deck.

Embattled Warmists Circle Their Wagons

While Democrats in both Houses race to get their previously tabled stealth Carbon taxation plan onto President Obama’s desk, fellow Big Green Scare Machine cogs strive to restore popular “belief.”

On a very cold January 15th, NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS)’s Gavin Schmidt calmly explained to ABC News that:

“It’s always a little bit difficult to talk about global warming when you’re gonna have the coldest day of the year. But you have to realize that weather isn’t abolished just because there’s a long-term trend in the climate.”

Sounds almost reasonable — particularly given the source. But marvel not, for around that same time last week, his colleague (and our antihero) James Hansen made the hysterical declaration that “President Obama’s administration is the last chance to avoid flooded cities, species extinction and climate catastrophe.”

Now that’s the GISS we’ve come to know and instinctively distrust. Sure, a prolonged record global freeze is by no means evidence of cooling — but every rainfall, hurricane, drought, tsunami and heat-wave are irrefutable proof of manmade warming. This comes from the same agency that, in 2007, predicted “a record global temperature” to be expected “within the next 2-3 years.” Nice call — the following year turned out to be the coldest in a decade. But Hansen’s boys are nothing if not belligerent. Despite last year’s freeze, they are sticking to their overheated guns and are now predicting that “a new global temperature record will be set within the next 1-2 years.” That sure satisfies any concerns whether the 400 million dollars plus the House Democrats’ economic stimulus plan would pump into NASA climate change research programs will be money well spent.

Simultaneously — the liberal blogosphere flew into panicked overdrive to restoke their retreating inferno.

On the same day Schmidt was dispatched as damage control, a Huffpo piece complained that a Google blog search for 2008 items using the terms “global warming” + lie, “global warming” + hoax, “global warming” + alarmists and “global warming” + skeptic returns twice the results as those for 2007. The author faulted the results of the Rasmussen Poll on this: “the internet is now a larger source of news for people than newspapers.” So who was this criticizing the availability of uncensored on-line information? Why, none other than Kevin Grandia, Managing Editor of alarmist propaganda site DeSmogBlog.

Grandia claims that “the internet is exploding” with information that “the majority of the mainstream media is unwilling to cover.” And truer words he’s seldom spoken.

But then he describes that thankfully obtainable insight as “the nonsensical junk science of the right-wing think tanks and their cadre of scientists for hire.” And as do all cooling deniers, he cites as skeptic-damning authority the debunked agenda-driven reports from the “top climate scientists from around the world ” of the 2007 United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) that “global warming is ‘very likely’ — or 90 per cent certain–caused by humans burning fossil fuels.”

This is the same U.N. globaloney espoused by Media Matters for America in its recent attacks on Lou Dobbs, beginning on December 18th when Heartland Institute senior fellow and science director Jay Lehr told the CNN anchor that “‘[t]he last 10 years have been quite cool’ and that ‘the sun’ — rather than humans — is responsible for recent climate change.” An enraged MM insisted that the IPCC 2007 Synthesis Report “specifically rebuts the suggestion that the sun, rather than humans, is responsible for climate change.”

In the weeks that followed, MM quoted the same report as gospel twice more. Once when rare bird Hollywood-conservative Douglas Urbanski rightly proclaimed that “there is no evidence that there is man-made climate change occurring.” And again when Dobbs “questioned the impact of humans on global warming and suggested that solar activity may be far more responsible for global warming” during his January 5th show.

And yet, this IPCC report, much-hyped-and-hallowed by alarmists and media-drones alike, represents the combined work of only 52 carefully cherry-picked UN scientists. But the 231-page U.S. Senate Minority Report containing the IPCC-countering findings of more than 12 times that number (over 650 dissenting — including many current and former UN IPCC — scientists) is either gratuitously ridiculed or all but ignored by these same agents. And last year’s Manhattan Declaration was similarly impressive in its signatories, and similarly mistreated by alarmists and their hand-puppets throughout the green-entranced MSM.

Grandia refers to a “cadre of scientists for hire” and Al Gore and Gorebots the likes of IPCC Chairman Rajendra Pachauri refer to dissenting experts as flat-Earthers and variants of big-oil whores and label their views “outside the scientific consensus.”

When in fact, even were consensus a foundation of science, there exists infinitely more that Al Gore, James Hansen, Gavin Schmidt, Joe Romm, Kevin Grandia et al are snake-oil salesmen than of any anthropogenic impact on climate. And recent claims of a vaguely worded on-line survey with a 30% response rate from unnamed “scientists” being touted by the alarmists as proof otherwise change nothing.

So 59% of Americans aren’t buying it; climate experts across the globe aren’t behind it; yet the alarmists continue to sell it and Democratic politicians remain steady customers.

All The President’s Men (and Women) of Science

Indeed, whether born of ignorance, denial, or just political corner-painting, our new president continues to position fossil-fuel induced warming high on the list of immediate challenges he’ll tackle, even when speaking in single-digit wind-chill locales, as he did last Saturday in Philadelphia. And that was just days after new E.P.A. chief Lisa Jackson avowed that “If confirmed, I will serve with science as my guide,” and the very day after Interior secretary Sen. Ken Salazar (D-CO) promised to “put science first” in department decision-making.

Outstanding.

Jackson — who testified at her confirmation hearing that “curbing global warming” would be an E.P.A. priority — has yet to disclose whether she’d move to regulate CO2 under the Clean Air Act, an extremely dangerous possibility nonetheless provided in 2007 by the wrongly decided Supreme Court decision of Massachusetts v. EPA. But as a committed GHG hypochondriac and avid supporter of cap-and-trade — serving “as Vice President of the Executive Board of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative,” which has already launched the nation’s first carbon trading system, her trump card — should legislation fail — is a no-brainer. And such radical regulation would empower unelected bureaucrats to impose massive behavior-modifying fines upon a broad range of residential and commercial “polluters.”

Meanwhile, Salazar remains vague about further acting upon the remarkably bad decision to include global warming as an Endangered Species Act concern, stating that “it is something that we will take a look at.” But look out — immediately upon taking office on Tuesday, Obama halted progress on a Bush-installed revision that would wisely “block the law from being used to fight global warming.” As we’ve pointed out in the past, the convergence of CO2 declared a greenhouse “pollutant” and animals listed as endangered by “climate change” creates a virtually unlimited potential for federal control over all manners of commerce and day-to-day existence.

Science first? My ice cold butt!

And speaking of furthering government control, Carol M. Browner — Obama’s choice for the new inanely-named position of “global warming czar” — is a dyed-in-the-wool socialist. She’s one of 14 leaders of Socialist International’s Commission for a Sustainable World Society, which, according to the Washington Times, “calls for ‘global governance’ and says rich countries must shrink their economies to address climate change.” For more on the eco-Marxism scam, see Noel Sheppard’s NASA’s Hansen to Obama: Use Global Warming to Redistribute Wealth and my own The Climate Alarmist Manifesto.

Then there’s new energy secretary Steven Chu, another cap-and-trade champion, who declared at his confirmation hearing:

“Climate change is a growing and pressing problem. It is now clear that if we continue on our current path, we run the risk of dramatic disruptive changes to our climate in the lifetimes of our children and our grandchildren.”

And let’s not forget Obama’s director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy. The Boston Globe recently reminded us of John Holdren’s own “contempt for researchers who are unconvinced that human activity is responsible for global warming, or that global warming is an onrushing disaster,” calling their ideas which “infest” public discourse “dangerous,” and that “paying any attention to their views is ‘a menace.'” Holdren also “contributed to a published assault on Bjorn Lomborg’s notable 2001 book ‘The Skeptical Environmentalist’- an attack the Economist described as ‘strong on contempt and sneering, but weak on substance.'”

Card-carrying carbochondriacs — the lot: Unwavering advocates of a scheme proven both wholly ineffectual in GHG abatement and clearly antithetical to our essential economic recovery by its international precursors. And Americans are waking up to the fact that the green power they and those driving them desire derives not from infeasible wind, solar or geothermal sources, but rather from economic command and control.

It’s obvious that were they pure of motive, green ideologues could stick to tangibles like clean water and air, and breaking OPEC’s strategically-dangerous strangle-hold on our energy supply; even limited intangibles like peak-oil and ambiguous “green jobs” — and people could still believe. So why sully the believable with the unbelievable, particularly when the goals are supposedly identical?

And by the way, Obama’s inaugural pledge to “restore science to its rightful place” wasn’t alone in its incongruity on the subject. He also promised that the era of “protecting narrow interests” is over, reinforcing his campaign pledge that his administration “would not be beholden to special interests.” But in fact, the green lobby represents perhaps the broadest and most dangerous of all influence peddlers — those who literally want to micromanage not only the air we breathe and the food we eat, but also our homes, our businesses, our pastimes and even our vacation spots – not to mention what, how often and how far we drive or fly in shuttling between them.

Current polls affirm that despite a protracted and intense campaign of misinformation and dissent-gagging, Americans now want the debate Al Gore once declared over to actually begin. And they want it free of the mind-policing tactics advocated by Obama’s science director, and long before any action is taken by climate zealots in either his cabinet or Congress.

Later in Tuesday’s speech, the president swore to “restore the vital trust between people and their government.” That was right before he promised the freezing crowd he’d “roll back the specter of a warming planet.”

Of course — until he and his appointees take stock of the facts regarding the latter, there’s little hope of success in the former.

Marc Sheppard is a frequent contributor to American Thinker and welcomes your comments.

Page Printed from: http://www.americanthinker.com/2009/01/climate_change_you_cant_believ.html at January 25, 2009 – 10:27:11 AM EST

Pretty Talk and Ugly Realities

From: http://townhall.com/Common/PrintPage.aspx?g=ab3e881f-9194-4d62-896a-62312436f52e&t=c

Thomas Sowell
Tuesday, January 13, 2009

No phrase represents more of a triumph of hope over experience than the phrase “Middle East peace process.” A close second might be the once-fashionable notion that Israel should “trade land for peace.”

Since everybody seems to be criticizing Israel for its military response to the rockets being fired into their country from the Gaza strip, let me add my criticisms as well. The Israelis traded land for peace, but they have never gotten the peace, so they should take back the land.

Maybe a couple of generations of Palestinians in Gaza living in peace under Israeli occupation and a couple of generations of the occupation troops squelching the terrorists– “militants” for those of you who are squeamish– would set up conditions where the Palestinians would be free to vote on whether they would like to remain occupied or to have their own state– minus terrorists and their rockets.

Casualty totals alone should be enough to show that the Palestinian people are the biggest losers from the current situation, where the terrorists among them, firing rockets into Israel, can bring devastating retaliatory strikes.

Why don’t the Palestinians vote for some representatives who would make a lasting peace with Israel? Because any such candidates would be killed by the terrorists long before election day, so nobody volunteers for that dangerous role.

We don’t know what the Palestinians really want– and won’t know as long as they are ruled by Hamas, Hezbollah and the like.

Whatever the benefits of peace for the Palestinian population, what are the terrorists going to do in peacetime? Become librarians and furniture salesmen?

So-called “world opinion” has been a largely negative factor in this situation. Nothing is easier than for people living in peace and safety in Paris or Rome to call for a “cease fire” after the Israelis retaliate against people who are firing rockets into their country.

The time to cease fire was before the rockets were fired.

What do calls for “cease fire” and “negotiations” do? They lower the price of launching attacks. This is true not only in the Middle East but in other parts of the world as well.

During the Vietnam war, when American clergymen were crying out “Stop the bombing!” they paid little attention to the fact that bombing pauses made it easier for North Vietnam to move more ammunition into South Vietnam to kill both South Vietnamese and Americans.

After Argentina invaded the Falkland Islands, if British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher had heeded calls for a “cease fire,” that would have simply lowered the price to be paid by the Argentine government for their invasion.

Go back a hundred years– before there was a United Nations and before “world opinion” was taken into account.

An Argentine invasion of the Falkland Islands at that time would have risked not only a British counter-attack to retake the islands but also British attacks on Argentina itself.

Anywhere in the world, attacks such as those on Israel today would not only have risked retaliation but invasion and annihilation of the government that launched those attacks.

Today, so-called “world opinion” not only limits the price to be paid for aggression or terrorism, it has even led to the self-indulgence of third parties talking pretty talk about limiting the response of those who are attacked to what is “proportionate.”

By this reasoning, we should not have declared war on Japan for bombing Pearl Harbor. We should have gone over to Japan, bombed one of their harbors– and let it go at that.

Does anyone imagine that this would have led to Japan’s becoming as peaceful today as it has become after Hiroshima and Nagasaki?

Or is the real agenda to engage in moral preening from a safe distance and at somebody else’s expense?

Those who think “negotiations” are a magic answer seem not to understand that when A wants to annihilate B, this is not an “issue” that can be resolved amicably around a conference table.
Copyright © 2008 Salem Web Network. All Rights Reserved.

Iran’s Power At The Pathetic United Nations

From:  http://www.forbes.com/2008/12/10/iran-un-obama-oped-cx_cr_1211rosett_print.html

Freedom’s Edge
Iran’s Power At The United Nations
Claudia Rosett 12.11.08, 12:00 AM ET

With Iran racing down the homestretch toward a nuclear bomb, the United Nations Security Council has spent more than two years expressing “serious concern.” By now, Iran is under U.N. sanctions, and in flagrant violation of five Security Council resolutions demanding that it stop enriching uranium. If anything, as a chronic abuser of the U.N. charter, Iran’s despotic, terrorist-backing, nuclear-wannabe regime ought to qualify for expulsion from the 192-member U.N. At the very least, one might suppose that on U.N. premises, Iran would be something of a pariah.

But at the U.N., that’s not how it works. Although Iran lost its bid this year for a seat on the 15-member Security Council, Iran’s government has the U.N. so well-wired, in so many ways, that it’s hard to find an angle Iran is not busy exploiting. That ought to be of serious concern to President-elect Obama, who has promised to give the U.N. a far bigger role in U.S. policy.

As it is, America provides the main U.N. premises in New York, suffers the related traffic jams and tries to ride herd on the alleged spies (two Iranian guards at Iran’s U.N. Mission in Manhattan were deported in 2004, after they were seen filming landmark buildings and parts of the transportation system). American taxpayers bankroll roughly one-quarter of the U.N.’s total budget, now swollen to well over $20 billion, and on top of that look likely to get stuck with the $2 billion-plus tab for the renovation now underway of U.N. headquarters.

Meanwhile, Iran, which pays a paltry 0.18% of the U.N.’s core budget, or less than 1/100th of the U.S. contribution, has wangled itself an astounding array of influential U.N. slots, which by next year will include seats on the governing bodies of at least eight prominent U.N. agencies. That setup serves both to legitimize the same Iranian regime that is busy violating the U.N. charter, and gives Iran a say in how billions in U.N. funds–much of that money supplied by U.S. taxpayers–get spent around the world.

For a glimpse of this setup, you don’t have to wait for Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s annual rant on the U.N. General Assembly stage. All you have to do is stroll through the main visitors’ lobby of the landmark U.N. building in Manhattan. In that lobby, by far the most prominent display is a row of eight portraits, framed in gold, and showing the lineup of secretaries-general from the U.N.’s founding at the end of World War II, through the current Ban Ki-Moon. But these are no ordinary portraits. Each is actually a silk carpet, and under the woven picture of each secretary-general, there appears the woven inscription: “Presented by the Islamic Republic of Iran.”

The first seven of these carpets were accepted from Iran en masse by former Secretary-General Kofi Annan in 1997. The eighth, depicting Ban Ki-Moon, was accepted by Ban last year and placed beside the others. And though the U.S. State Department seems oblivious to this use of the U.N. lobby as a showcase for Iranian gifts tailored to flatter the secretariat’s top boss, it’s a good bet that both the Iranian delegates and Ban are aware, when they look at those rug-portraits, that beneath the name of each secretary-general is inscribed the name of Iran’s Islamic Republic.

But that’s just the lobby. Next year, Iran is slated to begin a three-year term on the 36-member executive board of the U.N.’s flagship agency, the U.N. Development Program, or UNDP. The UNDP fields a presence in 166 countries and disperses some $9 billion around the globe every year–$5 billion from its own budget, and another $4 billion on behalf of other U.N. operations. The UNDP is the agency that early last year, when North Korea was rounding out a term on its board, became embroiled in the cash-for-Kim scandal–in which it turned out that the UNDP, in violation of its own rules, had been serving both as a source of hard cash for the rogue nuclear state of North Korea and as a money laundering vehicle for North Korean weapons and nuclear proliferation networks.

Iran’s seat on the UNDP board will automatically confer seats on the governing boards of the U.N. Population Fund (UNFPA) and the U.N. Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM). Iran also sits on the governing bodies of the U.N. Agency for Human Settlements (U.N.-Habitat), and the U.N. refugee agency, the UNHCR. While board memberships entail broad decision-making powers rather than hands-on management, in the U.N. system, such seats can confer a handy advantage in the backroom deals that are the real basis of U.N. business.

On the climate front, which the U.N. is currently turning into a multibillion-dollar global business, Iran is also an executive player. Iran has a seat until 2011 on the governing council of the U.N. Environment Program (UNEP) in Nairobi. An Iranian serves on the governing council of the Global Environment Facility, based in Washington. And an Iranian serves as the first vice-president of the executive council of the World Meteorological Organization in Geneva–where Iran is also one of 49 members of the U.N. Disarmament Conference.

At the U.N.’s Food and Agriculture Organization in Rome, a veteran Iranian diplomat, Mohammed Saeid Noori-Naeini, chairs the 49-member governing council. The FAO has a budget of more than $850 million per year, to which the U.S. contributes the biggest single share. Iran also sits on the executive board of the related U.N. World Food Programme (to which the U.S. last year contributed more than 40% of the WFP’s $2.7 billion in global expenditures).

With all that Iranian involvement in the U.N.’s programs for global food distribution, it’s no surprise that Iran’s President Ahmadinejad flew to an FAO food security conference in Rome this past June, where he used the FAO platform to urge “the formation of an independent and powerful body, obeyed by all countries, to justly regulate the food market and organize all its related issues from production to consumption.” Lest anyone wonder who might qualify to run such a mighty regulator of the world’s entire food supply, Ahmadinejad went on to urge universal efforts to achieve “the coming to power of pure and monotheistic managers.”

Iran was also the original sponsor of a 2001 U.N. initiative called the Dialogue of Civilizations. Proposed by former Iranian President Mohammad Khatami and embraced by Kofi Annan, this “dialogue” was then transformed in 2005 into its successor, the New York-headquartered Alliance of Civilizations. The Alliance features a 20-member panel of “eminent persons” including Iran’s Khatami, who in September 2006 made use of this connection–as Iran was thumbing its nose at one of the Security Council ultimatums on uranium enrichment–to visit the U.S. and deliver a series of anti-American speeches. The Alliance is part of the campaign now gathering steam at the U.N. to impose Islamic anti-blasphemy laws worldwide, gagging free speech.

Inside Iran, the U.N. fields big operations, including a UNDP office staffed largely by Iranian nationals, and an office of the U,N, cultural organization UNESCO, which serves as a hub for UNESCO operations not only in Iran, but in Turkmenistan, Pakistan and Afghanistan. Iran is also one of the 43 countries in which the U.N. this year offered exams to recruit new members to its global, professional staff.

Iran is not on the governing board of the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency (though some of its pals, such as Cuba and China, are). But last year, the office of the Iranian ambassador to the IAEA did take advantage of the Vienna location to place an ad in the International Herald Tribune, soliciting bids to build two new nuclear reactors in Iran. To get the bidding specs, interested parties were asked to pay a nonrefundable fee of 15,000 euros into an account at Bank Austria Creditanstalt–which, for the convenience of U.N. personnel, maintains banking facilities on the premises of the U.N.’s Vienna office complex.

Beyond that, Iran holds influential spots on the two most powerful, overlapping lobbying blocs inside the U.N. General Assembly: the G-77 and the Organization of the Islamic Conference. That latter position is how Iran’s ambassador to the U.N. in Geneva ended up as one of 19 vice-chairs of the preparatory committee for the U.N.’s 2009 conference on racism.

The above list of Iran’s doings at the U.N. is far from comprehensive, but you get the idea. If Obama is still banking on tough diplomacy to stop Iran’s race for the nuclear bomb, there are really only two ways to deal with this U.N. minefield: He can start by trying to kick Iran out of the U.N., or he can bypass the U.N. altogether.

Claudia Rosett, a journalist-in-residence with the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, writes a weekly column on foreign affairs for Forbes.com.

Everything you want to know about the bailout (but were afraid to ask)

From:

December 11, 2008
Everything you want to know about the bailout (but were afraid to ask)
By Jim H. Ainsworth

Here are a few questions from a typical man on the street (me) to Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson, and the answers I believe he would give, based on his public positions to date.

Man on the street question: How much did you say you needed?

Paulson answer: $700 Billion

Q: When do you need it?
A: Immediately.

Q: What are you going to do with it?
A: Save the country.

Q: Could you be more specific?
A: Just trust me.

Q: If you don’t know what you’re going to do with it, how can you know how much you need?
A: I could be off a few billion, but I am very close.

Q: Let’s see now, you don’t know exactly how much you need, and you don’t know what you are going to do with it, but you have to have it right away. Correct?
A: That sums it up nicely.

Q: And what happens if you don’t get it?
A: The world as we know it ends. The sky will fall.

Q: Could you be more specific?
A: The credit markets will freeze.

Q: So how will you thaw the credit markets? Just trying to understand.
A: (Impatient) We will buy troubled assets from troubled banks and they will be able to lend again.

After Bailout Approval

Q: Ok. You have the money. Did you buy the troubled assets?
A: Not exactly.

Q: Why not?
A: Well, we could not figure out what they were worth.

Q: Why not?
A: There does not seem to be a market for them.

Q: Aren’t banks required to mark them to market value?
A: Yes.

Q: Then why not just pay the value shown on the banks’ balance sheets?
A: (Long pause) Er…it seems that some of them have almost no value and of course, no buyers.

Q: Sounds like a good price. Why not pay that?
A: (Exasperated) Because that would not help the banks.

Q: It would get the bad assets off the banks’ books. I thought that was the idea.
A: The credit markets are frozen. Besides, we could not figure out which troubled assets to buy.

Q: So what did you do with the money?
A: We’re still considering various options.

Q: I thought you had to have it right away or the world would come to an end.
A: We had to have approval to spend it to shore up market confidence.

Q: So how did that work? Has the market stabilized?
A: Wall Street has confidence that we stand ready to invest the money to free up credit markets.

Q: Does the Treasury Secretary, President and Congress shouting that we are heading off a cliff scare the markets?
A: We must free up credit markets to head off another Great Depression.

Q: So have you spent any of the money?
A: Yes, we are taking equity positions in financial institutions. In other cases, we may just give them the money.

Q: So, we taxpayers are investing in failing banks’ stock?
A: We are finding various ways to inject capital into troubled banks. We even have a name for our new program. It’s called TARP. Troubled Asset Relief Program. That should make everyone feel better.

Q: Relief. Isn’t that what they called welfare during the Great Depression?
A: Next question.

Q: So, if the bank fails anyway, won’t our stock go to zero?
A: The banks are too big to fail.

Q: Couldn’t they undo some of the mergers and acquisitions and foreign investments that made them so big? Maybe that would make them more efficient.
A: These banks are too big to fail. You have no idea of the financial Armageddon that would cause.

Q: After this capital injection, infusion, investment, have the banks started lending?
A: Credit markets remain frozen. Nobody, absolutely nobody, can borrow money.

Q: I borrowed money for a new car just last week.
A: You don’t fit the definition of nobody. Nobody means big players.

Q: I have a friend who bought three distressed houses for rent property last week. Financed them all. A real high-roller. Does he qualify as one of the nobodies?
A: If he can borrow money, of course not.

Q: My bank says they are awash in cash and ready to lend it. The president says they are making good loans every day, just like they did before the sky fell. They say profits are good.
A. Your bank is too unsophisticated to understand complicated financial instruments such as collateralized default swaps or the concept of leveraging. It took great brains such as mine when I headed Goldman Sachs to devise such securities. (Head lifting, neck straining). I expect that the president of your bank makes less than a million a year and gets bonuses based on profits or some such antiquated arrangement. He could not possibly understand what it takes to run a real investment bank.

Q: So, how are you going to get the banks to start lending?
A: As I said, we are taking equity positions in the banks. We will make them lend money or know the reason why. We may have to put some members of Congress on their boards. That way, the banks will be run in the same efficient manner that the country is.

Q: Isn’t that what caused this mess to begin with?
A: No further questions.

Jim H. Ainsworth-former CPA, CFP, CLU, Registered Investment Advisor, Licensed Securities Principal, was twice named one of the most influential accountants in America by Accounting Today magazine. He welcomes comments at jimainsworth.com.

Broadcast ‘Fairness’ Fouls Out

From: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/12/05/AR2008120503194_pf.html

By George F. Will
Sunday, December 7, 2008; B07

Reactionary liberalism, the ideology of many Democrats, holds that inconvenient rights, such as secret ballots in unionization elections, should be repealed; that existing failures, such as GM, should be preserved; and, with special perversity, that repealed mistakes, such as the “fairness doctrine,” should be repeated. That Orwellian name was designed to disguise the doctrine’s use as the government’s instrument for preventing fair competition in the broadcasting of political commentary.

Because liberals have been even less successful in competing with conservatives on talk radio than Detroit has been in competing with its rivals, liberals are seeking intellectual protectionism in the form of regulations that suppress ideological rivals. If liberals advertise their illiberalism by reimposing the fairness doctrine, the Supreme Court might revisit its 1969 ruling that the fairness doctrine is constitutional. The court probably would dismay reactionary liberals by reversing that decision on the ground that the world has changed vastly, pertinently and for the better.

Until the Reagan administration extinguished it, the doctrine required broadcasters to devote reasonable time to fairly presenting all sides of any controversial issue discussed on the air. The government decided the meaning of the italicized words.

When government regulation of the content of broadcasts began in 1927, the supposed justification was the scarcity of radio spectrum. In 1928 and 1929, when Republicans ran Washington, a New York station owned by the Socialist Party was warned to show “due regard” for others’ opinions, and the government blocked the Chicago Federation of Labor’s attempted purchase of a station because all stations should serve “the general public.” In 1939, when Democrats ran Washington, the government conditioned renewal of one station’s license on that station’s promise to desist from anti-FDR editorials.

In 1969, when the Supreme Court declared the fairness doctrine constitutional, it probably did not know the Kennedy administration’s use of it, as one official described it: “Our massive strategy was to use the fairness doctrine to challenge and harass the right-wing broadcasters and hope that the challenges would be so costly to them that they would be inhibited and decide it was too expensive to continue.” Richard Nixon emulated this practice. In 1973, Supreme Court Justice William Douglas, a liberal, said the doctrine “has no place in our First Amendment regime” because it “enables administration after administration to toy with TV or radio.”

The court’s 1969 ruling relied heavily on the scarcity rationale. But Brian Anderson and Adam Thierer, in their book “A Manifesto for Media Freedom,” note that today there are about 14,000 radio stations, twice as many as in 1969; 18.9 million subscribers to satellite radio, up 17 percent in 12 months; and that 86 percent of households with either cable or satellite television receive an average of 102 of the 500 available channels. Because daily newspapers are much more scarce than are radio and television choices, should there be a fairness doctrine for the New York Times?

The 1969 court dismissed as “speculative” the possibility that the fairness doctrine would cause broadcasters to “eliminate coverage of controversial issues.” But the proper worry was that the doctrine would continue to stifle the flowering of controversy. A court that considers the doctrine today will note that whereas in 1980 there were fewer than 100 talk radio programs, today there are more than 1,500 news or talk radio stations.

Further subverting the “scarcity” rationale for government supervision of broadcast content, some liberals now say: The problem is not maldistribution of opinion and information but too much of both. Until recently, liberals fretted that the media were homogenizing America into blandness. Now they say speech management by government is needed because of a different scarcity — the public’s attention, which supposedly is overloaded by today’s information cornucopia.

And these worrywarts say the proliferation of radio, cable, satellite broadcasting and Internet choices allows people to choose their own universe of commentary, which takes us far from the good old days when everyone had the communitarian delight of gathering around the cozy campfire of the NBC-ABC-CBS oligopoly. Being a liberal is exhausting when you must simultaneously argue for illiberal policies on the basis of dangerous scarcity and menacing abundance.

If reactionary liberals, unsatisfied with dominating the mainstream media, academia and Hollywood, were competitive on talk radio, they would be uninterested in reviving the fairness doctrine. Having so sullied liberalism’s name that they have taken to calling themselves progressives, liberals are now ruining the reputation of reactionaries, which really is unfair.

georgewill@washpost.com

Lack of sleep ‘raises cold risk’

From: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/7823599.stm

Sleeping for under seven hours a night greatly raises the risk of catching a cold, US research has suggested.

A team from Carnegie Mellon University found the risk was trebled compared with those who slept for eight hours or more a night.

It is thought that a lack of sleep impairs the immune system and the body’s ability to fight off the viruses that cause colds and flu.

The study appears in the journal Archives of Internal Medicine.

Previous research has suggested that people who sleep seven to eight hours a night have the lowest rates of heart disease.
However, there has been little direct evidence that getting a good night’s sleep can help ward off a cold.

The researchers studied 153 healthy men and women with an average age of 37 between 2000 and 2004.

Each was interviewed about their sleeping habits over a two-week period.

They were then quarantined and given nasal drops containing rhinovirus, which causes the common cold.

For the following five days the volunteers reported any signs and symptoms of illness, and had mucus samples collected from their nasal passages.

And 28 days after exposure to the virus, blood samples were taken from each volunteer so tests could be carried out to see if they had developed antibodies to fight infection.

Sleep quality

The less an individual slept, the more likely they were to develop a cold.

The quality of sleep also appeared to be important. Volunteers who spent less than 92% of their time in bed asleep were five-and-a-half times more likely to become ill than those who were asleep for at least 98% of their time in bed.

The researchers believe that lack of good quality sleep disturbs regulation of key chemicals produced by the immune system to fight infection.

Professor Ron Eccles, director of the Common Cold Centre at the University of Cardiff, said sleep and the immune system were closely linked.

He said: “The immune system may control the sleep-wake pattern and lack of sleep or sleep disturbance may depress the immune response to infection.

“I do believe there is enough information on this to indicate that lack of sleep or sleep disturbance will reduce our resistance to infections such as colds and flu.”

Dr Adrian Williams, director of the Sleep Disorders Centre, at St Thomas’ Hospital, London, said the study echoed previous work in animals suggesting sleep had an effect on immunity.

Dr Neil Stanley, a sleep expert at Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, agreed that previous research had shown that poor sleep impacts on immunity, but he said there was little data on its effect on specific infections, such as colds and flu.

Story from BBC NEWS:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/2/hi/health/7823599.stm

Al Franken is nothing but an unfunny joke. Once senators from Minnesota were a special breed.

From: http://www.americanthinker.com/2009/01/the_descent_of_the_senate.html

Seriousness about good government, interest in honorable politics, well-thought principals of public policy – – all these have been lost. Norm Coleman, a good mayor of St. Paul who has had a respectable career in the Senate, is about to lose his Senate seat to seedy Democrat partisans panting for any Democrat, even an absurdity like Franken, to replace a serious, moderate Republican. This perversion of democracy in Minnesota is about to be confirmed by a perversion of democracy in the United States Senate itself, where Franken indecently (but predictably) began his campaign to have Senate Democrats seat him even before the recount of the senate race in Minnesota.

Mike Mansfield must be rolling over in his grave. Hubert Humphrey must be looking at his beloved home state and weeping. Kellogg must be overflowing with contempt. Wellstone must be wondering what happened, in a few short years, to Minnesota Democrats. Good government was once a byword of Minnesota. The United States Senate used to be the most distinguished legislative body in the world. The unbridled lust for power, the cynical insistence on a Leftism that bears no resemblance to the liberalism of Humphrey, the willingness to sacrifice every principle to win – this is what has become of the United States Senate. The noble tradition of Minnesota senators has morphed into muck.

Hamas representative Fathi Hamad stated it explicitly: “For the Palestinian people death became an industry, at which women excel and so do all people on this land: the elderly excel, the Jihad fighters excel, and the children excel. Accordingly (Palestinians) created a human shield of women, children, the elderly and the Jihad fighters against the Zionist bombing machine, as if they were saying to the Zionist enemy: We desire death as you desire life.”

From: http://townhall.com/columnists/MonaCharen/2009/01/03/the_so-called_international_community

Just for a lark, I decided to google “international condemnations of Hamas” this morning. You can guess what came up, right? Naturally, searching for condemnations of Hamas, one finds only international condemnations of Israel. An Australian report noted that the “British Foreign Secretary David Miliband is calling for an urgent ceasefire, while Russia’s Foreign Minister says he’s told his Israeli counterpart to urgently halt the military action.” The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, “strongly condemned Israel’s disproportionate use of force,” as did Brazil. Indonesia called on all countries to “sever all forms of diplomatic and business ties with Israel.” French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who currently holds the rotating chair of the European Union, did call upon Hamas to halt its rocket attacks but also censured Israel’s “disproportionate response.”

Let’s fantasize. Let’s pretend that the “international community” (it’s not a community, thus the quotation marks) actually lived by the principles it claims to advance. It happens that international communiteer par excellence, Jimmy Carter, (he received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2002 “for his decades of untiring effort to find peaceful solutions to international conflicts”) was in Syria on Dec. 14, meeting with Hamas leaders. Nobel laureate Carter was silent when Hamas announced its decision to allow an Egyptian brokered ceasefire with Israel to expire. Nor did he — or any international leader — comment upon the 4,000 rockets that Hamas has rained down on Israel just since 2005.

Hamas held an anniversary party of sorts during the time of Carter’s visit. Marking the 21st anniversary of the organization’s founding, Hamas staged a large demonstration in Gaza City that featured video connections to Damascus (where Carter was meeting with Khaled Meshaal). Ismail Haniyeh addressed the crowd of 300,000, promising more terror and violence toward Israel in the name of Allah. There was also a skit. A Palestinian dressed as Gilad Shalit, the Israeli soldier who was kidnapped and has been held by Hamas since 2006, was portrayed pleading for his life. “I miss my Mommy and Daddy,” he sobbed into a microphone for the crowd’s delectation. Search in vain for international condemnations.

The so-called international community has a script already prepared for any news from the Middle East. In this script, there is only Israeli violence, Israeli repression, Israeli guilt. The script reads as follows: Palestinian violence and terror against Israel is not to be condemned because it is the response to occupation and repression. On BBC radio, host Owen Bennett-Jones objected when Israel’s ambassador to Great Britain pointed out that Hamas has been bombarding southern Israel with rockets on a daily basis. “But your analysis is seen by people around the world to be completely wrong-headed. The idea that Hamas sort of came from nowhere and radicalized Palestinian society overlooks the fact that Israel occupied and repressed these people for over 40 years.”

In 2005, perhaps accepting Bennett-Jones’s interpretation of history, Israel pulled out of Gaza completely, uprooting all of the Jewish settlers, and leaving the area completely to the Palestinians to administer. Rather than build a society of their own, Hamas, which controls Gaza — the Palestinian Authority controls the West Bank — has used its independence to launch a ceaseless barrage of missiles against Israel.

It’s often pointed out that Hamas does not recognize Israel’s right to exist. It’s more than that. Hamas, with Iran’s backing, is committed to Israel’s violent destruction. Missiles have fallen on schools and homes. Hamas is explicit about desiring Israeli counterattacks, because while Hamas aims to kill Israeli civilians, they know that Israel tries very hard not to kill Palestinian civilians. But every Palestinian death at the hands of Israel is seen as a propaganda victory for Hamas — which is why they place their munitions and terrorists in mosques, hospitals, and homes crowded with children. Hamas representative Fathi Hamad stated it explicitly: “For the Palestinian people death became an industry, at which women excel and so do all people on this land: the elderly excel, the Jihad fighters excel, and the children excel. Accordingly (Palestinians) created a human shield of women, children, the elderly and the Jihad fighters against the Zionist bombing machine, as if they were saying to the Zionist enemy: We desire death as you desire life.”

It’s impossible for Israel to hit back at Hamas without harming and killing innocent civilians. As Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu has pointed out, by aiming at Israeli civilians and using Palestinian civilians as human shields, Hamas is committing a double war crime.

But you will wait in vain for an international outcry.

Why Does The New York Times Love Hamas?

From: http://www.thedailybeast.com/blogs-and-stories/2009-01-06/why-does-the-times-love-hamas/p/

by Steve Emerson
January 6, 2009 | 8:17am

The paper of record refuses to call them terrorists, extols the group’s humanitarian efforts, and whitewashes its behavior during the now-broken cease-fire.

In the past week, the Fourth Estate’s Hamas cheerleaders have stripped away any pretense of being honest or neutral, with The New York Times continuing to take the side of the terrorist group in one of the most shameful journalistic episodes I have ever seen. In following The Times’ coverage for the past six months and checking external sources of information, one can see a clear pattern of propagandistic reporting favoring Hamas that selectively suppressed or willfully misrepresented information.

Even The Times knows it has a bias problem. Readers who detected it got a chilling confirmation of their suspicions in the December 13 column by Ombudsman Clark Hoyt. Addressing a public outcry over the paper’s failure to use the term “terrorist” for the attackers who executed some 170 people in Mumbai, India, in late November (and mutilated the six Jews killed in the Chabad House—a fact never reported by The Times), Hoyt quoted several reporters and editors making extraordinary admissions that shed some light on the newspaper’s most recent dispatches from Gaza.

The next installment should be on Hezbollah’s eHarmony-style dating service for those terrorists too shy to walk up to a female mujahid and ask her if she likes his AK-47.

Addressing the general guidelines for using the T-word, Ethan Bronner, the Jerusalem bureau chief, said, “Our general view is that the word terrorist is politically loaded and overused.” But he said that sometimes, “when a person’s act has been examined and its intent and result clearly understood, we call him a terrorist.” (Never mind that Lashkar e-Taiba, the group behind the Mumbai attacks, has committed hundreds of terrorist attacks since 1996. How much more “studying” needs to be done?)

As for Hamas, the organization that controls Gaza, it has been sponsoring suicide bombers and launching rockets into Israel since 1987, killing and wounding thousands of Israelis (and Americans). But The Times has refused to call it a terrorist group because, according to deputy news editor Phil Corbett, the paper does not want to get into a situation where it might label a worker at a Hamas hospital a terrorist. So instead, it has given a blanket amnesty to all of Hamas—including its Izz ad-Din al-Qassam military wing, which openly claims responsibility for carrying out terrorist atrocities.

This is a familiar ruse by Islamic terrorist groups (including the nonprofit Islamic charities in the United States, which were shut down after 9/11): create humanitarian branches to distract from the true nature of their organizations. But has Ethan Bronner ever stepped inside one of these Hamas hospitals or schools? I have, several years ago, in Gaza, where I saw murals on the wall of Palestinians stabbing Israelis to death.

In the stories filed this past week, Gaza-based Times reporter Taghreed El-Khodary has also fallen for another classic tactic of terrorist groups: embedding their fighters and facilities in residential areas to incur more civilian casualties. El-Khodary’s dispatches have decried the “shocking” nature of the Israeli attacks on Palestinian civilians, sidestepping the fact that Hamas purposely locates its infrastructure among civilians—in effect holding them hostage.

Despite the fact that Hamas has executed scores of rivals, smuggled in hundreds of tons of explosives and tens of thousands of weapons, killed local Christians and shut down their churches, and summarily executed “collaborators” (those who have been accused, mostly falsely, of working with the Israelis), the paper appears intent on humanizing the brutal regime in Gaza.

On October 20, 2008, for example, The Times painted a sweet portrait of Hamas fostering love, not war, through arranged marriages for members of Izz ad-Din al-Qassam (the terrorist squad that specializes in suicide bombings, although this fact was conveniently left out in the story). “Taking advantage of the pause in violence,” El-Khodary wrote, “the Hamas leaders have turned to matchmaking, bringing together single fighters and widows, and providing dowries and wedding parties for the many here who cannot afford such trappings of matrimony.”

How touching. The next installment could be on Al Qaeda’s mixers for Gen-Y terrorists or Hezbollah’s eHarmony-style dating service for those terrorists too shy to walk up to a female mujahid and ask her if she likes his AK-47. And by the way, those Hamas lovebirds were able to participate in an open-air wedding ceremony, because, The Times reported, Hamas “has been observing a truce with Israel since June, allowing its underground fighters to resurface but leaving them without much to do.” In fact, Hamas was routinely violating the truce, allowing scores of rockets to be fired into Israel, smuggling explosives, building underground tunnels, and, as we now know, building tens of thousands of rockets and long-range missiles to target southern Israel.

Yet a week before Israel launched its most recent offensive in Gaza, on December 20, Bronner was still promoting the Hamas line that it had “imposed its will and even imprisoned some of those who were firing rockets.” What he neglected to say is that those allegedly imprisoned were never jailed more than two days, and that more than 200 missiles were fired at Israel by Hamas during the truce.

In this same article Bronner places the blame for breaking the truce on “Israel’s decision in early November to destroy a tunnel Hamas had been digging near the border,” which “drove the cycle of violence to a much higher level.” In fact, if Bronner had read his own paper’s June 25 report, “Rockets Hit Israel, Breaking Hamas Truce,” he would have learned that “three Qassem rockets fired from Gaza on Tuesday struck the Israeli border town of Sderot…constituting the first serious breach of a five-day-old truce between Israel and Hamas.”

Another example of The Times downplaying Hamas’ evil nature occurred deep in a December 29 story by Bronner and El-Khodary. Although focused mostly on the Palestinians killed by Israeli bombs, it did make a relatively brief reference to the fact that “Hamas gunmen publicly shot suspected collaborators with Israel,” which the paper described somewhat nonchalantly as “internal bloodletting.” The Times said five victims were taken out of their hospital beds and shot in the head—a chilling episode that should have been a stand-alone story about the thugs who rule Gaza. Moreover, calling these men “collaborators”—when, for all we know, they were simply political opponents of Hamas—conjures up self-justifying images of the French collaboration with the Nazis.

Throughout last week’s reporting by Bronner and El-Khodary, there were numerous references to two Palestinian children killed by an Israeli bombing raids, with the clear implication that Israel was recklessly attacking civilian areas. The paper never once blamed Hamas for intentionally using civilians as human shields. Even more telling of The Times’ bias: On December 26, 2008, the Jerusalem Post reported that, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry, two Palestinian children, ages 5 and 12, were killed when Hamas rockets fell short of their Israeli targets. Yet The Times never once reported those deaths.

In its purportedly evenhanded approach to reporting the news from the Gaza front, The New York Times continues to betray the trust placed on journalists to give readers all the facts. And in this clear attempt to place the blame on one party alone—Israel—The Times is advancing the cause of Hamas. If The Times really wanted to present the truth, it would simply drop the pretense of being honest and simply register as a foreign agent of Hamas.

—Additional reporting by Linda Keay

Steve Emerson is executive director of the Investigative Project on Terrorism and author of 5 books and countless articles on terrorism. His most recent book is Jihad Incorporated: A Guide to Militant Islam in the U.S.