Friday, April 30, 2010

Transocean Deepwater Horizon Explosion-A Discussion of What Actually Happened? - Drilling Ahead

I will start the discussion with this which came in email a moment ago...

Anybody with any thoughts?

April 26, 2010 Transocean Rig Disaster: The Well From Hell
Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more. Here's another update on the disaster that befell Transocean Ltd. (RIG: NYSE) and BP (BP: NYSE)last week in the Gulf of Mexico.

As you know by now, the drilling vessel Deepwater Horizon exploded, burned and sank last week, with the loss of 11 workers and injuries to many more. What happened? What's happening now? What's going to happen? I've spent the weekend working to piece things together.

An Ill-fated Discovery

According to news accounts, at about 10 p.m. CDT last Tuesday, Deepwater Horizon was stable, holding an exact position in calm, dark seas about 45 miles south of the Louisiana coastline. Water depth in the area is 5,000 feet. The vessel manifest listed 126 souls on board.

Deepwater Horizon was finishing work on an exploration well named Macondo, in an area called Mississippi Canyon Block 252. After weeks of drilling, the rig had pushed a bit down over 18,000 feet, into an oil-bearing zone. The Transocean and BP personnel were installing casing in the well. BP was going to seal things up, and then go off and figure out how to produce the oil -- another step entirely in the oil biz.

The Macondo Block 252 reservoir may hold as much as 100 million barrels. That's not as large as other recent oil strikes in the Gulf, but BP management was still pleased. Success is success -- certainly in the risky, deep-water oil environment. The front office of BP Exploration was preparing a press release to announce a "commercial" oil discovery.

This kind of exploration success was par for the course for Deepwater Horizon. A year ago, the vessel set a record at another site in the Gulf, drilling a well just over 35,000 feet and discovering the 3 billion barrel Tiber deposit for BP. SoDeepwater Horizon was a great rig, with a great crew and a superb record. You might even say that is was lucky.

But perhaps some things tempt the Gods. Some actions may invite ill fate. Because suddenly, the wild and wasteful ocean struck with a bolt from the deep.

The Lights Went out; and Then...

Witnesses state that the lights flickered on the Deepwater Horizon. Then a massive thud shook the vessel, followed by another strong vibration.

Transocean employee Jim Ingram, a seasoned offshore worker, told the U.K. Times that he was preparing for bed after working a 12-hour shift. "On the second [thud]," said Mr. Ingram, "we knew something was wrong."

Indeed, something was very wrong. Within a moment, a gigantic blast of gas, oil and drilling mud roared up through three miles of down-hole pipe and subsea risers. The fluids burst through the rig floor and ripped up into the gigantic draw-works. Something sparked. The hydrocarbons ignited.

In a fraction of a second, the drilling deck of the Deepwater Horizon exploded into a fireball. The scene was an utter conflagration.

Evacuate and Abandon Ship

There was almost no time to react. Emergency beacons blared. Battery-powered lighting switched on throughout the vessel. Crew members ran to evacuation stations. The order came to abandon ship.

Then from the worst of circumstances came the finest, noblest elements of human behavior. Everyone on the vessel has been through extensive safety training. They knew what to do. Most crew members climbed into covered lifeboats. Other crew members quickly winched the boats, with their shipmates, down to the water. Then those who stayed behind rapidly evacuated in other designated emergency craft.

Some of the crew, however, were trapped in odd parts of the massive vessel, which measures 396 feet by 256 feet -- a bit less than the size of two football fields laid side by side.( This is one big Drill Ship) They couldn't get to the boats. So they did what they had to do, which for some meant jumping -- and those jumpers did not fare so well. Several men broke bones due to the impact of their 80-foot drop to the sea. Still, it beat burning.

With searchlights providing illumination, as well as the eerie light from the flames of the raging fire, boat handlers pulled colleagues out of the water beneath the burning rig. In some instances, the plastic fittings on the lifeboats melted from the heat.

The flames intensified. Soon it was impossible for the lifeboats to function near the massive vessel. The small boats moved away from the raging fountain of fire fed by ancient oil and gas from far below.

The lifeboat skippers saved as many as they could find -- 115 -- but couldn't account for 11 workers who were, apparently, on or around the drill deck at the time of the first explosion. Nine of the missing are Transocean employees. Two others work for subcontractors.

Damon Bankston to the Rescue

Fate was not entirely cruel that night. Indeed, a supply boat was already en route to the Deepwater Horizon. It was the Tidewater Damon Bankston, a 260-foot long flat-deck supply vessel.

Damon Bankston heard the distress signal. Her captain did what great captains do. He aimed the bow toward the position of Deepwater Horizon. Then he tore through the water, moved along by four mighty Caterpillar engines rated at 10,200 horsepower. Soon, the Damon Bankston arrived on scene, sailed straight into the flames and joined the rescue.

Meanwhile, Coast Guard helicopters lifted off from pads in southern Louisiana, and Coast Guard rescue vessels left their moorings. "You have to go out," is the old Coast Guard saying. "You don't have to come back."

The helicopters flew in the black of night toward a vista of utter disaster. Arriving on scene, the pilots watched in awe as columns of flame shot as high as a 50-story building. The helicopters were buffeted by blasts of super-heated wind coming from the flames, while chunks of soot the size of your hand blew by.

The pilots hovered in the glow of the blazing rig, while Coast Guard medics fast-roped down to the deck of Damon Bankston . The medics quickly assessed the casualties, strapped critically injured crewmen to backboards and hoisted them up to the helicopters. Then the pilots turned north and sped ashore to hospitals.

Uninjured survivors returned to land on the Damon Bankston. And others came out to fight the blistering flames.

But the Deepwater Horizon wasn't going to make it. The situation deteriorated, to the point of complete catastrophe. The ship was lost.

At about 10 a.m. CDT on Thursday morning, 36 hours after the first explosion, the Deepwater Horizon capsized and sank in 5,000 feet of water. According to BP, the hulk is located on the seafloor, upside-down, about 1,500 feet away from the Macondo well it drilled.

Still Spilling Oil

On Friday, I told you that the oil well drilled by the Deepwater Horizon was sealed in. The "official" word was that the well wasn't gushing oil into the sea. My sources were no less than U.S. Coast Guard Rear Adm. Mary Landry, of the New Orleans district, as quoted in The New York Times.

But over the weekend, Rear Adm. Landry and The New York Times reported that the well IS leaking oil, at a rate of about 1,000 barrels per day.

The on-scene information comes from remotely operated underwater robots that BP and Transocean are using to monitor the well and survey all the other wreckage of the Deepwater Horizon. There's now a large amount of equipment and pipe and a myriad of marine debris on the seafloor near the well. It's a mess.

Apparently, the blowout preventer is not controlling the flow of oil. According to Transocean, the blowout preventer on Deepwater Horizon was manufactured by Cameron Intl. (CAM: NYSE).

What happened? We don't know that just yet. Earlier reports that underwater robots sealed the blowout preventer were wrong. It's possible that the blowout preventer is only partially closed. We'll find out, eventually. Meanwhile, BP and Transocean have announced that they will make another effort to activate the blowout preventer. They need to stop that oil.

BP is also preparing to drill one or more relief wells to secure the site permanently. BP has mobilized the drilling rig Development Driller III, which is moving into position to drill a second well to intercept the leaking well. With the new well, the drillers will inject a specialized heavy fluid into the original well. This fluid will secure and block the flow of oil or gas and allow BP to permanently seal the first well.

Riser Problems?

According to the Coast Guard and BP, oil is leaking from two spots along what is left of the riser system. Here's a schematic view:

Originally, the risers (represented by the blue line in the graphic above) were affixed to the blowout preventer on the seafloor, and extended 5,000 feet straight up to the "moon pool" of the Deepwater Horizon. When the drilling vessel sank, it took the riser piping and bent it around like a pretzel.

The remnants of the riser system now follow a circuitous underwater route. According to BP, the risers extend from the wellhead up through the water column to about 1,500 feet above the seabed. Then the riser system buckles back down toward the seafloor. (Frankly, I'm astonished that it all held together as well as it has. It's a credit to the manufacturer, which I'll discuss below.)

According to the Transocean website, the riser devices on the Deepwater Horizonwere manufactured by VetcoGray, a division of General Electric Oil & Gas. The specific designation is a "HMF-Class H, 21-inch outside diameter riser; 90 foot long joints with Choke & Kill, and booster and hydraulic supply lines."

Here's a photo of something similar. These are Vetco risers sections that I saw on another vessel, the Transocean Discoverer Inspiration, when I visited that ship last month:

The different color stripes on the risers indicate differing amounts of buoyancy. The idea is to put heavy riser pipe down at the bottom, connected to more buoyant risers above. The buoyancy keeps the entire riser system in more or less neutral buoyancy, so that the drill ship doesn't have to somehow hoist up the huge weight of all that pipe.

As you can see, there's a large-diameter pipe in the middle of each riser. That pipe is then encased in a buoyant foam substance. The risers are bolted together at the flange sections. The bolts are about as big as the arm of a very strong man. The nuts, which tighten things down, are the size of paint cans.

After the risers are assembled and hanging down from the drilling vessel, the drilling personnel lower and raise drilling pipe through the large-diameter center riser pipe. All the drilling mud stays inside the drill pipe on the way down hole, and inside the riser pipe on the return.

On the side of the riser sections, you can see smaller-diameter pipes. These are choke & kill, booster and hydraulic pipe components. The pipes run parallel to the large-diameter inner pipe. These pipe systems run down to the blowout preventer on the seafloor.

The idea is to keep the drilling process an enclosed system. All the "drilling stuff" -- the drill-pipe, drilling-mud and drill-cutting returns -- stays inside the large-diameter pipe. The smaller pipes hold fluid to transmit hydraulic power and help control drilling. In particular, the pipes on the side aid in communicating with and controlling the blowout preventer.

Technical Specs

Ideally, when the risers are working as intended, nothing leaks out into the sea. Then again, you're not supposed to twist and bend the riser sections like a pretzel. So how strong is a riser system? Extremely strong, actually.

According to technical literature from GE Oil & Gas, the riser equipment is "designed for use in high-pressure, critical service and deep-water drilling and production applications." The pressure-containing components are rated for working pressures of 15,000 psi. That's the same as the Cameron blowout preventer on the Deepwater Horizon. The materials used in risers have exceptional tensile and bending load characteristics.

According to Vetco paperwork that I've seen, the Class H riser sections have a 3.5 million pound load-carrying capacity. That's the equivalent weight of about four fully fueled Boeing 747s. These risers are super strong.

Still, it's not just any one single piece of riser section that does it all. These sections all get bolted together, for 5,000 feet in this case. The riser sections all have to work together as a system. The whole string is only as strong as the weakest spot. And yes, even the strongest steel will break if you apply enough stress.

It all has to work together. You've got the riser sections, along with things called HMF flanged riser connectors. Then there are HMF riser joints; flex joints; telescopic joints; and, near the top, things called "fluid-bearing, nonintegral tensioner rings." Together, these all comprise the marine riser system.

In general, the riser components compensate for heave, surge, sway, offset and torque of the drilling vessel as the ship bounces around on the sea surface. The bottom line is to maintain a tight seal -- what's called "integrity" -- between the subsea blowout preventer stack and the surface during drilling operations.

Down at the bottom, at the seafloor, the risers are connected to the blowout preventer by a connector device. The GE-Vetco spec is for a device that accommodates 7 million foot-pounds of bending load capacity. That's about eight fully fueled Boeing 747s.

What's the idea? You want a secure connection between the high-pressure wellhead system and the subsea blowout preventer stack. That's where mankind's best steel meets Mother Nature's high pressures.

High pressures? You had better believe it. And in this case, Mother Nature won. So looking forward, there's going to be a lot of forensic engineering on the well design and how things got monitored during drilling. Transocean drilled the well, but BP designed it. So the key question is how did the down-hole pressures get away like they did?

What Happens Now?

It's a good thing that the Deepwater Horizon didn't settle right on top of the well. At least there's room for the remotely operated vehicles to maneuver. Also, there's still a lot of riser still floating in the water column. So there's some element of integrity going down to the blowout preventer.

It's absolutely imperative to shut off that oil flow. We just have to hope and pray that the BP and Transocean people can get the blowout preventer shut off. Or that there's enough integrity to the risers somehow to get in there and control the leaks, perhaps with some sort of plug. One other idea is to lower a large "hood" over the leak and capture the oil so it can be pumped up to a storage tanker ship.

Meanwhile, the relief well has to go down -- carefully and safely. This Macondo well is history. Seal it. Mark it. Give it back to the sea. Move on. Don't tempt fate on this one.

And wow... for a relatively modest-sized deep-water discovery, this thing sure has turned into the well from hell.

Welcome to the World of Deep-water Risk

As I've said before, this accident is Mother Nature's wake-up call to everyone. Deep-water drilling is a high-stakes game. It's not exactly a "casino," in that there's a heck of a lot of settled science, engineering and technology involved.

But we're sure finding out the hard way what all the risks are. And it's becoming more and more clear how the totality of risk is a moving target. There's geologic risk, technical risk, engineering risk, environmental risk, capital risk and market risk.

With each deep well, these risks all come together over one very tiny spot at the bottom of the ocean. So for all the oil that's out there under deep water -- and it's a lot -- the long-term calculus of risk and return is difficult to quantify.

There's more to discuss, but I'll end here today. I'll update you as things evolve. This is big news all through the offshore industry. There are HUGE environmental issues, and certainly big political repercussions. I won't go there just now.

For now, I'll just send out collective best wishes to the people at Transocean, BP, the Coast Guard, Minerals Management and so many more. I'm sure they're doing their best.

Thanks for reading...

The Corner - National Review Online

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Deconstructing the Outrage [Victor Davis Hanson]

I have been trying to collate all the furor over the Arizona law, much of it written by those who do not live in locales that have been transformed by illegal immigration. These writers are more likely to show solidarity from a distance than to visit or live in the areas that have been so radically changed by the phenomenon.

On the unfortunate matter of "presenting papers": I have done that numerous times this year — boarding airplanes, purchasing things on a credit card, checking into a hotel, showing a doorman an I.D. when locked out, going to the DMV, and, in one case, pulling off a rural road to use my cell phone in a way that alarmed a chance highway patrolman. An I.D. check to allay "reasonable suspicion" or "probable cause" is very American.

On the matter of racial profiling: No one wishes to harass citizens by race or gender, but, again unfortunately, we already profile constantly. When I had top classics students, I quite bluntly explained to graduating seniors that those who were Mexican American and African American had very good chances of entering Ivy League or other top graduate schools from Fresno, those who were women and Asians so-so chances, and those who were white males with CSUF BAs very little chance, despite straight A's and top GRE scores. The students themselves knew all that better than I — and, except the latter category, had packaged and self-profiled themselves for years in applying for grants, admissions, fellowships, and awards. I can remember being told by a dean in 1989 exactly the gender and racial profile of the person I was to hire before the search had even started, and not even to "waste my time" by interviewing a white male candidate. Again, the modern university works on the principle that faculty, staff, and students are constantly identified by racial and gender status. These were not minor matters, but questions that affected hundreds of lives for many decades to come. (As a postscript I can also remember calling frantically to an Ivy League chair to explain that our top student that he had accepted had just confessed to me that in fact he was an illegal alien, and remember him "being delighted" at the news, as if it were an added bonus.)

On the matter of equality, fairness, and compassion, it is even more problematic. Literally thousands of highly skilled would-be legal immigrants from Latin America, Africa, Asia, and Europe wait patiently while others cut in front and illegally obtain what others legally wait for — residence in the U.S. Meanwhile, millions of Mexican-American, African-American, and poor white citizens have seen their wages fall because of competition from illegal aliens who will work for far less compensation. It is a bit strange that those of the upper classes are outraged over Arizona without empathy for entry-level U.S. workers or lower-middle-class taxpayers who end up paying the most for illegal immigration. But then, those who express the most moral outrage often are the least sensitive to the moral questions involved (see next).

On matters of Mexico's outrage: The Mexican government has a deliberate policy of exporting human capital on a win/win/win/win logic: Dissidents leave central Mexico in a safety-valve fashion; Mexico saves on social services; remittances come back as the second largest source of foreign exchange; and a growing expatriate, lobbying community becomes nostalgic and fonder of Mexico the longer it is absent from it. To hide all this, the Mexican government usually plays the racial prejudice card, although most arrivals from Oaxaca will tell you that racism is more perncious in Mexican society than north of the border. This is a government, after all, that cannot provide the security, legal framework, or social services for indigenous peoples in its central interior but has no such problems when it is a question of attracting affluent North Americans to live in second homes along its picturesque coasts.

There is plenty of cynicism involved — not on the part of the exasperated voters of Arizona, but rather from domestic political, religious, ideological, and ethnic interests that in patronizing fashion seek new dependent constituents; from Mexico that in amoral fashion censures others for the sins it commits; and from a strange nexus between corporate employers and ethnic lobbyists who see their own particular profit and influence enhanced through the ordeal of millions of poor aliens, and the subsidies of the strapped and now to be demonized taxpayer.

The $10 Trillion Climate Fraud - IBD -

The $10 Trillion Climate Fraud

Posted 04/28/2010 07:11 PM ET

Al Gore is co-founder of an investment management firm that is now the fifth-largest shareholder in the Chicago Climate Exchange. AP View Enlarged Image

Cap-And-Trade: While senators froth over Goldman Sachs and derivatives, a climate trading scheme being run out of the Chicago Climate Exchange would make Bernie Madoff blush. Its trail leads to the White House.

Lost in the recent headlines was Al Gore's appearance Monday in Denver at the annual meeting of the Council of Foundations, an association of the nation's philanthropic leaders.

"Time's running out (on climate change)," Gore told them. "We have to get our act together. You have a unique role in getting our act together."

Gore was right that foundations will play a key role in keeping the climate scam alive as evidence of outright climate fraud grows, just as they were critical in the beginning when the Joyce Foundation in 2000 and 2001 provided the seed money to start the Chicago Climate Exchange. It started trading in 2003, and what it trades is, essentially, air. More specifically perhaps, hot air.

The Chicago Climate Exchange (CCX) advertises itself as "North America's only cap-and-trade system for all six greenhouse gases, with global affiliates and projects worldwide." Barack Obama served on the board of the Joyce Foundation from 1994 to 2002 when the CCX startup grants were issued. As president, pushing cap-and-trade is one of his highest priorities. Now isn't that special?

Few Americans have heard of either entity. The Joyce Foundation was originally the financial nest egg of a widow whose family had made millions in the now out-of-favor lumber industry.

After her death, the foundation was run by philanthropists who increasingly dedicated their giving to liberal causes, including gun control, environmentalism and school changes.

Currently, CCX members agree to a voluntary but legally binding agreement to regulate greenhouse gases.

The CCX provides the mechanism in trading the very pollution permits and carbon offsets the administration's cap-and-trade proposals would impose by government mandate.

Thanks to Fox News' Glenn Beck, we have learned a lot about CCX, not the least of which is that its founder, Richard Sandor, says he knew Obama well back in the day when the Joyce Foundation awarded money to the Kellogg Graduate School of Management at Northwestern University, where Sandor was a research professor.

Sandor estimates that climate trading could be "a $10 trillion dollar market." It could very well be, if cap-and-trade measures like Waxman-Markey and Kerry-Boxer are signed into law, making energy prices skyrocket, and as companies buy and sell permits to emit those six "greenhouse" gases.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Barbara Hollingsworth: Fannie Mae owns patent on residential 'cap and trade' exchange | Washington Examiner

Barbara Hollingsworth: Fannie Mae owns patent on residential 'cap and trade' exchange
By: Barbara Hollingsworth
Local Opinion Editor
April 20, 2010

When he wasn't busy helping create a $127 billion mess for taxpayers to clean up, former Fannie Mae Chief Executive Officer Franklin Raines, two of his top underlings and select individuals in the "green" movement were inventing a patented system to trade residential carbon credits.

Patent No. 6904336 was approved by the U.S. Patent and Trade Office on Nov. 7, 2006 -- the day after Democrats took control of Congress. Former Sen. John Sununu, R-N.H., criticized the award at the time, pointing out that it had "nothing to do with Fannie Mae's charter, nothing to do with making mortgages more affordable."

It wasn't about mortgages. It was about greenbacks. The patent, which Fannie Mae confirmed it still owns with Cantor Fitzgerald subsidiary, gives the mortgage giant a lock on the fledgling carbon trading market, thus also giving it a major financial stake in the success of cap-and-trade legislation.

Besides Raines, the other "inventors" are:

* Former Fannie Vice President and Deputy General Counsel G. Scott Lesmes, who provided legal advice on Fannie Mae's debt and equity offerings;

* Former Fannie Vice President Robert Sahadi, who now runs GreenSpace Investment Financial Services out of his 5,002-square-foot Clarksburg home;

* 2008 Barack Obama fundraiser Kenneth Berlin, an environmental law partner at Skadden Arps;

* Michelle Desiderio, director of the National Green Building Certification program, which trains "green" monitors;

* Former Cantor Fitzgerald employee Elizabeth Arner Cavey, wife of Democratic donor Brian Cavey of the Stanton Park Group, which received $200,000 last year to lobby on climate change legislation; and

* Jane Bartels, widow of former CEO Carlton Bartels. Three weeks before Carlton Bartels was killed in the Sept. 11 attacks, he filed for another patent on the software used in 2003 to set up the Chicago Climate Exchange.

The patent, which covers both the "cap" and "trade" parts of Obama's top domestic energy initiation, gives Fannie Mae proprietary control over an automated trading system that pools and sells credits for hard-to-quantify residential carbon reduction efforts (such as solar panels and high-efficiency appliances) to companies and utilities that don't meet emission reduction targets. Depending on where the Environmental Protection Agency sets arbitrary CO2 standards, that could be every company in America.

The patent summary describes how carbon "and other pollutants yet to be determined" would be "combined into a single emissions pool" and traded -- just as Fannie's toxic portfolio of subprime mortgages were.

"Fannie Mae earns no money on this patent," communications director Amy Bonitatibus told the Washington Examiner. "We can't conjecture as to the cap-and-trade legislation."

But passage of the legislation would create an artificial, government-mandated, trillion-dollar carbon trading market that would drive up the price of energy, indirectly making housing more expensive.

If the proprietary emissions trading system functions like other exchanges such as the New York Stock Exchange, which makes most of its revenue on listing and trading fees, its owners could see extremely generous profits, especially with a patent that keeps out competition for two decades.

So Fannie Mae, a quasi-governmental entity whose congressionally mandated mission is to make housing more affordable, has been a behind-the-scenes participant in a carbon trading scheme that would do just the opposite.

In January, Europol announced that up to 90 percent of the volume in the European Union's own carbon-trading market was fraudulent, costing EU members $5 billion during the previous 18 months. That would be just the tip of the iceberg if the Congress were to make a similar mistake.

But if it does, thanks to Raines and his fellow "inventors," Fannie Mae will be laughing all the way to the (bailed-out) bank.

Barbara F. Hollingsworth is the Examiner's local opinion editor.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

GPSed Track "fruits"

View my new track "fruits" started in United States, Colorado, Grand Junction.

Powered by - Free Mobile GPS Tracking Service

The Case against the Dodd Bill - The Editors on National Review Online


The Editors

April 26, 2010 4:00 A.M.

The Case against the Dodd Bill

The dirty little secret about the Obama administration’s “Wall Street reform” bill is that it’s full of favors for Wall Street. Case in point: You might have heard about the new $50 billion fund that would be used to wind down large financial firms that became insolvent. The fund would come from assessments on Wall Street banks, based on the principle that these “too big to fail” institutions should pre-fund their own bailouts. But you probably didn’t know that these assessments would count as tax-deductible business expenses, meaning that for every dollar the banks would pay into the fund, 35 cents would come out of the Treasury.

This provision is Senate Banking Committee chairman Chris Dodd’s financial-reform bill in a nutshell: a hodge-podge of new restrictions on Wall Street offset by a hearty dose of sweeteners to keep financial-industry cash flowing to Democrats. For every measure that would cut into Wall Street’s profits, another would subsidize its operations. New regulations governing derivatives would cut into the fees investment banks could charge for structuring these customized products. But the bailout authority awarded to the FDIC and the Federal Reserve would allow the banks to borrow at reduced rates, with their creditors secure in the knowledge that the government would step in if the market tanked.

Senate Republicans have pledged to block the bill as it currently stands. Senate majority leader Harry Reid plans to force a vote to proceed with debate today, but Sen. Richard Shelby, Dodd’s Republican counterpart on the Banking Committee, said yesterday that he expects the GOP to hang together as he and Dodd continue to work toward a compromise that can secure broad bipartisan support. There is no need to rush this process, and no need for Republicans to fear the politics of this issue so long as they are on the right side of the facts. At least four provisions need to be fixed before Republicans can vote for this bill in good conscience.

(1) The “bailout fund”: Republicans have focused a lot of firepower on the $50 billion fund mentioned above; last week the Obama administration called the GOP’s bluff and offered to drop the fund. But as we editorialized at the time, removing the liquidation fund would not address the GOP’s concerns. Under the administration’s proposal, the government would retain the power to seize and liquidate insolvent financial firms; instead of raising the necessary money beforehand, it would raise it after the fact. So the bailout fund would remain in place, except it would materialize only after a crisis — if policymakers retained the stomach to impose assessments on what would be, at that point, a very shaky financial industry.

Supporters of the Dodd bill have objected to the term “bailout fund,” arguing that the fund would be sharply restricted to liquidations, not bailouts. But it wouldn’t be. We do not dispute that the U.S. needs a better resolution mechanism for large non-bank financial firms. Bankruptcy did not appear to work well in resolving Lehman Brothers, although the heavy government intervention in financial markets both before and after it failed makes it difficult to know for sure. Even if bankruptcy would have worked better absent that intervention, the government has now set the precedent that it will step in to save large firms from failing or to mitigate the consequences of their failure. We need a better system of rules to deal with this moral hazard.

But the resolution authority designed by the Dodd bill might actually create more moral hazard than it would eliminate, because it would give the FDIC too much flexibility in how it resolves a failed firm. The bill’s authors appear to have cut-and-pasted the resolution language that authorizes the FDIC to wind down banks, in which one class of creditors — the depositors — are entitled to a bailout. The sophisticated creditors of non-banks, however, neither need nor deserve a bailout. The Dodd bill would not require the FDIC to impose losses on these creditors; it only expresses a “strong presumption” that such losses would be imposed.

As structured, this authority would allow the government to bail out non-bank creditors, and worse, to play favorites among them, just as we saw when the Obama administration gift-wrapped large stakes in the automakers for its union allies at the expense of secured creditors. Secured creditors would face another danger: In cases where a failed firm had both bank and non-bank businesses (like Citigroup), the FDIC could use non-bank assets to cover depositors on the bank side in order to minimize losses to its Deposit Insurance Fund, which the current crisis has depleted. The value of being a secured creditor, as opposed to an unsecured creditor, would be greatly diminished.

The good news is that it shouldn’t be too hard to fix these problems. The language needs to be scrubbed so that the FDIC has zero authority to provide creditors with better treatment than bankruptcy affords them. The resolution fund should be used only to pay obligations that are incurred after insolvency. In some cases, that money may be used to fund advance claims from creditors — claims that must be repaid if a creditor has been advanced more than it is entitled to under the law. The bank and non-bank sides of the FDIC should be walled off from each other to prevent conflicts of interest. And, if the FDIC has to borrow from the Treasury to finance any part of a resolution, taxpayers should be first in line to get paid back.

(2) Backdoor bailouts: The debate over resolution authority is merely academic, however, if the Dodd bill retains language that would give the FDIC clear authority to engage in loan guarantees during a crisis — authority it does not currently have, but which federal policymakers have been exercising anyway. You might recall that the government guaranteed more than $300 billion of Citigroup’s liabilities above and beyond money the company received under the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP). (Such sums dwarf the $50 billion that would be set aside for liquidation.) Under the Dodd bill, the Fed would retain the power to make loans accepting the shadiest of assets (such as subprime-mortgage-backed securities) as collateral. The Fed has used this authority over the past year to inject more than $1 trillion in new money into the economy, much of it routed through banks that stretched the definition of solvency.

The point of providing this money, then and in the future, is to prevent firms from going into resolution. It is the architecture of a permanent bailout authority, and it needs to be dismantled. This kind of flexibility, while valuable to policymakers, can quickly turn into a huge liability for taxpayers. If the power to offer such extraordinary assistance is truly necessary in the event of a liquidity crisis, regulators should have little trouble convincing Congress to give it to them, as Henry Paulson and Ben Bernanke were able to do with TARP in late 2008. But Congress should not pre-emptively hand the keys to the fisc to a group of unelected officials who, though well meaning, have precious little incentive to look out for the taxpayers’ best interest when they believe the sky to be falling.

(3) A new “consumer protection” bureaucracy: In December, as part of its own financial-reform bill, the House of Representatives passed a slightly modified version of Rep. Barney Frank’s Consumer Financial Protection Agency (CFPA) Act, which would establish a new standalone watchdog to regulate mortgages, credit cards, and much else. Such an agency would be a cumbersome bureaucracy that could impose job-killing business regulations and jeopardize financial stability. Indeed, economists David Evans and Joshua Wright concluded that the CFPA Act “would likely lead to an exponential increase in the costs and risks associated with litigation and regulation related to consumer lending products,” and would thus significantly reduce available credit. The CFPA was a big reason that not a single Republican supported the House financial-overhaul plan.

The Dodd bill would not create a formally independent consumer agency, but rather a new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau inside the Fed. Democrats say this placement is a major concession. Republicans should not be fooled. The proposed bureau would essentially operate as an independent body. It would be empowered to write and enforce new consumer rules (albeit rules that other regulators could appeal). Dodd has essentially taken Frank’s CFPA and added a fig leaf: Unlike an official standalone agency, which would have to finance itself, the bureau would be funded by the Fed. That funding may actually make Dodd’s bill worse than Frank’s, in that it insulates the bureau from oversight. Further, the bureau would have broad authority to expand the regulatory state and curtail consumer options. A GOP Senate staffer jokes that if the Dodd bill became law, the Banking Committee might as well close up shop, since the CFPB would effectively be taking its place.

For Republicans, the politics of the CFPB may seem tricky: Democrats have been gleefully painting them as opponents of “consumer protection,” and the public is understandably hostile toward credit-card companies. But the GOP should remind Americans of two underlying truths: (1) The main causes of the pre-2007 housing bubble did not include a lack of muscular consumer-protection rules. (2) To the extent that existing consumer safeguards need strengthening, the task can be accomplished without launching a massive new bureaucracy that would negatively affect credit access and economic growth.

(4) “Proxy access” for Big Labor: The unions probably won’t get their way on “card check,” but the Dodd bill offers them a nice consolation prize. Under the guise of bolstering shareholder rights, the legislation would greatly expand Big Labor’s influence over American corporations. The vehicle would be “proxy access” — allowing stockholders to have their preferred candidates in corporate-director elections be included on a company’s official proxy card. While this has been sold as a means of promoting “shareholder democracy,” its chief beneficiaries would be large and politically powerful shareholders, such as union pension funds. Proxy access has been a liberal rallying cry for many years. Its inclusion in the Dodd bill underscores the degree to which that bill represents a Democratic wish list.

We don’t have room here to tackle the dubious argument that corporations should operate like “democracies.” Suffice it to say that Dodd’s corporate-governance provisions are not designed to help mom-and-pop shareholders, but rather to increase the power of unions and other left-leaning interest groups. It would be an understatement to say that Big Labor’s agenda will often conflict with the goal of maximizing shareholder value. Shareholders are best served by sound corporate management, which the unions would seek to undermine.


The Dodd bill has other deficiencies, but we consider these four to be the most prominent and unacceptable. Until they are addressed, Republicans should oppose the legislation with all their might. Journalists will warn of the political risks (as if they’re suddenly concerned about GOP electoral fortunes) but Republicans should ignore the chatter. Rather than let Democrats claim the mantle of populism, the GOP should emphasize that Dodd’s bill would keep Bailout Nation alive while hurting the very people — middle-class consumers — it claims to be protecting. The public wants smarter, more efficient regulation of Wall Street, and there is still a possibility that Congress could produce a genuinely bipartisan reform package that would end “too big to fail” and create a sensible new resolution authority. But only if Republicans stay united.

Misusing History - Thomas Sowell on National Review Online

Thomas Sowell


Archive | Latest
April 27, 2010 12:00 A.M.

Misusing History

Inhumanity, like humanity, is universal.

Many years ago, I was surprised to receive a letter from an old friend, saying that she had been told that I refused to see campus visitors from Africa.

At the time, I was so bogged down with work that I had agreed to see only one visitor to the Stanford campus — and it so happens that he was from Africa. He just happened to come along when I had a little breathing room from the work I was doing in my office.

I pointed out to my friend that whoever said what she heard might just as well have said that I refused to go sky-diving with blacks — which was true, because I refused to go sky-diving with anybody, whether black, white, Asian, or whatever.

The kind of thinking that produced a passing misconception about me has, unfortunately, produced much bigger, much longer lasting, much more systematic, and more poisonous distortions about the United States of America.

Slavery is a classic example. The history of slavery across the centuries and in many countries around the world is a painful history to read — not only in terms of how slaves have been treated, but because of what that says about the whole human species — because slaves and enslavers alike have been of every race, religion, and nationality.

If the history of slavery ought to teach us anything, it is that human beings cannot be trusted with unbridled power over other human beings — no matter what color or creed any of them are. The history of ancient despotism and modern totalitarianism practically shouts that same message from the blood-stained pages of history.

But that is not the message that is being taught in our schools and colleges, or dramatized on television and in the movies. The message that is pounded home again and again is that white people enslaved black people.

It is true, just as it is true that I don’t go sky-diving with blacks. But it is also false in its implications for the same reason. Just as Europeans enslaved Africans, North Africans enslaved Europeans — more Europeans than there were Africans enslaved in the United States or in the 13 colonies from which the nation was formed.

The treatment of white galley slaves was even worse than the treatment of black slaves who picked cotton. But there are no movies or television dramas about it comparable to Roots, and our schools and colleges don’t pound it into the heads of students.

The inhumanity of human beings toward other human beings is not a new story, much less a local story. There is no need to hide it, because there are lessons we can learn from it. But there is also no need to distort it, so that sins of the whole human species around the world are presented as special defects of “our society” or the sins of a particular race.

If American society and Western civilization are different from other societies and civilizations, it is in that they eventually turned against slavery, and stamped it out, at a time when non-Western societies around the world were still maintaining slavery and resisting Western pressures to end slavery — including, in some cases, by armed resistance.

Only the fact that the West had more firepower put an end to slavery in many non-Western societies during the age of Western imperialism. Yet today there are Americans who have gone to Africa to apologize for slavery — on a continent where slavery has still not been completely ended, to this very moment.

It is not just the history of slavery that gets distorted beyond recognition by the selective filtering of facts. Those who mine history in order to find everything they can to undermine American society or Western civilization have very little interest in the Bataan death march, the atrocities of the Ottoman Empire, or similar atrocities in other times and places.

Those who mine history for sins are not searching for truth but for opportunities to denigrate their own society, or for grievances that can be cashed in today at the expense of people who were not even born when the sins of the past were committed.

An ancient adage says: “Sufficient for the day is the evil thereof.” But apparently it is not sufficient for many among our educators, the intelligentsia, or the media. They are busy poisoning the present by the way they present the past.

— Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution. © 2010 Creators Syndicate, Inc.

Monday, April 26, 2010

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Guest commentary: New ‘rights’ are wrong » Naples Daily News

Guest commentary: New ‘rights’ are wrong

* Don Richmond / Naples
* Posted April 24, 2010 at 5:01 p.m.

Brent Batten was absolutely correct in his column of March 25 when he stated there is no right to “the fruits of another group’s labor.”

The Declaration of Independence holds that rights are “self-evident.” However, it is the failure to grasp the true nature of rights which has brought this country to its current condition. It remained for the 20th-century philosopher Ayn Rand to explicitly identify rights as “moral principle(s) defining and sanctioning a man’s freedom of action in a social context.” Rights pertain only to “freedom from physical compulsion, coercion or interference by other men. ... Rights impose no obligations on (others) except of a negative kind: to abstain from violating (your) rights.”

The source of all rights is the right to life, and its sole implementation is the right to property, the right to use the products of your efforts to sustain your life. The rights to liberty and the pursuit of happiness are the rights to enjoy your life and use your property. Rights are an objectively necessary requirement of human life, principles which apply equally to all persons and at all times. In sum, rights are freedoms for rational beings to take the actions necessary to fulfill and enjoy their lives. Any alleged “right” which violates these rights is not a right, but an excuse for a crime.

The only way to violate individual rights is through the initiation of force. A person who initiates force against you is attempting to negate your means of survival by forcing you to act against your judgment as to what your life requires. The only moral use of force is in retaliation against those who initiate its use. The sole proper purpose of government is to protect its citizens’ rights by banning the initiation of force and placing its retaliatory use under objective control. The purpose of the U.S. Constitution was, and is, to establish and maintain the supremacy of individual rights over our society and our government.

Consider, by contrast, the congressman quoted by Batten: “We have a moral obligation today, tonight to make health care a right.” That person believes he has a duty to force the providers of health care to work. Only a slave has no choice in the work he does. If health care is considered a right, then someone must provide it, willing or not. If too few people choose the profession of health care to provide for everyone’s “rights,” how will the need be met? Will doctors be jailed for the “crime” of leaving medicine? Will students be drafted into medical schools? If so, what kind of doctors will result? A doctor in Rand’s novel “Atlas Shrugged” says, “A man who’s willing to work under compulsion is too dangerous a brute to entrust with a job in the stockyards,” let alone in an operating room.

The root of this evil is altruism, the perverse principle that “man has no right to exist for his own sake, that service to others is the only justification of his existence, and that self-sacrifice is his highest moral duty, virtue, and value” (Rand). Thus, altruism negates individual rights. If one has no right to exist for one’s own sake, one has no rights whatsoever. The health-care measures passed may be touted as “good-faith efforts,” as Batten stated, but the “good faith” is solidly rooted in an evil premise.

Altruistic ideologues, such as those running our government, believe that the initiation of force to counteract selfishness is not only permitted, but obligatory. To a committed altruist, anyone who refuses to sacrifice, to serve others at his own cost, is harming those others by denying them their right to the product of his efforts.

It was altruism, not selfishness, that gave rise to the horrors of communism and fascism. Both systems, variants of collectivism, deny that individuals have any reason for existence other than to serve others and advocate stamping out self-interest as a moral imperative. By contrast, this country was founded by men who did not consider themselves sacrificial animals, servants or slaves to the state. By claiming that rights are unalienable, they held that rights exist whether or not anyone chooses to recognize them.

There is no more time to evade this choice. Will we recognize the existence of individual rights and the full meaning of what they are and what they require, or will we accept the institutionalized slavery of enforced service of all to all, where ability is penalized and need is encouraged?

Richmond has a bachelor’s degree in physics and a master’s degree in operations research. He was a software systems developer on Wall Street. He is now a residential real-estate appraiser. He is a founding member of the Ayn Rand Society for Individual Rights of Naples, an organization formed to bring Rand’s philosophy of objectivism to greater public notice.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Redactions Revealed: The Six Secrets You Need to Know From the Obama Subpoena Request | NBC Chicago

Redactions Revealed: The Six Secrets You Need to Know From the Obama Subpoena Request

Update:Judge calls emergency meeting over redaction errors.

Former governor Rod Blagojevich's defense team asked Thursday to issue a trial subpoena to the President of the United States of America.

The motion, intended to be heavily redacted, was improperly edited -- the full document was easily viewable if the text is copied and pasted to another document (an error first revealed on Capitol Fax).

Below, the six revelations the redacted portions were meant to conceal.

2010 Illinois Election Guide

1. Obama may have lied about conversations with convicted fraudster Tony Rezko

Blagojevich's lawyers allege that Rezko admitted breaking the law by contributing "a large sum of cash" to a public official. Blagojevich's attorneys say that public official is Obama. Obama said that Rezko never relayed a request from a lobbyist to hold a fundraiser in favor of favorable legislative action. But the point may be moot: regardless of Obama talking/not talking to Rezko, Blagojevich's attorneys say that Obama refused the request regardless.

Redacted portion: However, the defense has a good faith belief that Mr. Rezko, President Obama’s former friend, fund-raiser, and neighbor told the FBI and the United States Attorneys a different story about President Obama. In a recent in camera proceeding, the
government tendered a three paragraph letter indicating that Rezko “has stated in interviews with the government that he engaged in election law violations by personally contributing a large sum of cash to the campaign of a public official who is not Rod Blagojevich. … Further, the public official denies being aware of cash contributions to his campaign by Rezko or others and denies having
conversations with Rezko related to cash contributions. … Rezko has also stated in interviews with the government that he believed he transmitted a quid pro quo offer from a lobbyist to the public official, whereby the lobbyist would hold a fundraiser for the official in exchange for favorable official action, but that the public official rejected the offer. The public official denies any such conversation. In addition, Rezko has stated to the government that he and the public official had certain conversations about gaming legislation and administration, which the public official denies having had.

Redacted footnote: The defense has a good faith belief that this public official is Barack Obama.

2. Obama may have overtly recommended Valerie Jarret for his Senate seat
Blagojevich's defense team basically alleges that Obama told a certain labor union official that he (Obama) would support Valerie Jarrett's candidacy for the Senate seat. Jarrett, referred to as "Senate Candidate B", is now a senior advisor to the president.

Redacted portion: Yet, despite President Obama stating that no representatives of his had any part of any deals, labor union president told the FBI and the United States Attorneys that he spoke to labor union official on November 3, 2008 who received a phone message from Obama that evening. After labor union official listened to the message labor union official told labor union president “I’m the one”. Labor union president took that to mean that labor union official was to be the one to deliver the message on behalf of Obama that Senate Candidate B was his pick. (Labor union president 302, February 2, 2009, p. 7).

Labor union official told the FBI and the United States Attorneys “Obama expressed his belief that [Senate Candidate B] would be a good Senator for the people of Illinois and would be a candidate who could win re-election. [Labor union official] advised Obama that [labor union official] would reach out to Governor Blagojevich and advocate for [Senate Candidate B] ... [Labor union official] called [labor union president] and told [labor union president] that Obama was aware that [labor union official] would be reaching out to Blagojevich.” (Labor union official 302, February 3, 2009 p. 3).

3. A supporter of President Obama may have offered quid pro quo on a Jarrett senate appointment
Redacted portion: Supporter of Presidential Candidate Obama is mentioned in a phone call on November 3, 2008, having offered “fundraising” in exchange for Senate Candidate B for senator (Blagojevich Home Phone Call # 149).

4. Obama maintained a list of good Senate candidates
Redacted portion: President-elect Obama also suggested Senate Candidate A to Governor Blagojevich. John Harris told the FBI and the United States Attorneys that he spoke to President’s Chief of Staff on November 12, 2008. Harris took notes of the conversation and wrote that President’s Chief had previously worked as Blagojevich's press secretary. Obama agreed of Staff told Harris that Senate Candidate A was acceptable to Obama as a senate pick. (Harris handwritten notes, OOG1004463) President’s Chief of Staff told the FBI that “he could not say where but somewhere it was communicated to him that” Senate Candidate A was a suggested candidate viewed as one of the four “right” candidates “by the Obama transition team.”

5. Rahm Emanuel allegedly floated Cheryl Jackson's name for the Senate seat
Redacted portion: President’s Chief of Staff told the FBI that he had a conversation discussing the Senate seat with Obama on December 7, 2008 in Obama’s car. President’s Chief of Staff told the FBI “Obama expressed concern about Senate Candidate D being appointed as Senator.

[President’s Chief of Staff] suggested they might need an expanded list to possibly include names of African Americans that came out of the business world. [President’s Chief of Staff] thought he suggested Senate Candidate E who was the head of the Urban League and with President’s Chief of Staff’s suggestion.

6. Obama had a secret phone call with Blagojevich
Redacted portion: President-elect Obama also spoke to Governor Blagojevich on December 1, 2008 in Philadelphia. On Harris Cell Phone Call # 139, John Harris and Governor’s legal counsel discuss a conversation Blagojevich had with President-elect Obama. The government claims a conspiracy existed from October 22, 2008 continuing through December 9, 2008.6 That conversation is relevant to the defense of the government’s theory of an ongoing conspiracy. Only Rod Blagojevich and President Obama can testify to the contents of that conversation. The defense is allowed to present evidence that corroborates the defendant’s testimony.

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The Global-Warming Tax - Patrick J. Michaels on National Review Online


Patrick J. Michaels

April 22, 2010 4:00 A.M.

The Global-Warming Tax

Damn the data; full speed ahead!

Climategate, Copenhagen, Snowmageddon in the nation’s capital, the EPA ruling that CO2 endangers us all, and Senate Republicans pushing for a global-warming tax. Has it been a great run-up to Earth Day, or what?

Never has a public-policy agenda been pursued with so little regard for scientific fact or public opinion. In March, 48 percent of Americans agreed that global warming, while real, is exaggerated. When Gallup first asked this question in 1997, only 31 percent thought the threat exaggerated.

Despite this shift in sentiment, Sens. Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.) and John Kerry (D., Mass.) and President Obama insist upon ramming a new global-warming tax (called a “fee”) through the Senate. The bill is slated to be introduced next week, and vulnerable Democrats — weary already from the pugilistic health-care debate — are fleeing the legislation in droves.

And for the measure’s primary backers, the backdrop of recent developments on the climate-science landscape could not possibly be less fortuitous.

Climategate revealed that a small but influential coterie of climate scientists did everything they could to present messy global-warming data as a “nice tidy story,” meticulously crafted to “hide the decline” in tree-ring-based temperatures. (I use quotes because those are the words of the warming-alarmist scientists themselves.)

The fact is that tree rings are pretty poor indicators of annual warmth, especially in recent years. Dendrochronologists call this the “divergence” problem (cynics call it other names). Phil Jones, the central figure in Climategate, actually eliminated the “divergence” rather than “hiding the decline.”

The amount of “explained variance” or statistical correlation between rings and temperatures during the summer growing season tends to run about 40 percent. That means more than half of the temperature changes for a fraction of the year (and even more for the entire year) are unexplained.

The famous “Hockey Stick” temperature history, by Penn State’s Michael Mann, is composed largely of marginally explanatory tree-ring data, which he subjected to a statistical analysis that produces different results depending on what portion of the data is chosen to represent the average condition. If there are 1,000 years of data, and one uses only the last 100 years to calculate the average against which to measure all the other years, that will help to produce an upward-pointing “hockey stick.” Using all of the data to form an average will give a smoother result.

Last week, David Hand, president of the Royal Statistical Society, acknowledged that “the particular technique they used exaggerated the size of the blade at the end of the hockey stick. Had they used an appropriate technique, the size of the blade of the hockey stick would have been smaller. . . . The change in temperature is not as great over the 20th century compared to the past as suggested by the Mann paper.”

That revelation was accessible to the public, but not through the American legacy media. Sophisticated Internet sites such as,, and are creating a parallel universe to that of the refereed science literature, largely in response to the obviously manipulated peer-review process evinced in the Climategate e-mails.

The data on these sites are every bit as technical as those in the standard literature. The sites’ contents would be published in such literature if some of the Climategate scientists weren’t so pathologically thin-skinned, and didn’t attempt to quash everyone and everything that deviates from their catechism.

As Climategate unfolded, so began the fiasco in Copenhagen, where global warming froze. The environmental world expected the December summit to produce a global commitment to specific reductions in carbon-dioxide emissions. President Obama famously barged in on a meeting of Brazil, South Africa, India, and China — and fled prematurely with nothing, hopping on Air Force one to reach Washington before the first of the season’s three blizzards did.

Yet perhaps the most damaging blows to the integrity of the warming-alarmist movement came directly from its most officious institutions: The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and the U.N. International Panel on Climate Change.

To strengthen Obama’s hand at Copenhagen, the EPA announced on the day the conference started that carbon dioxide was an “endangerment” to human health and welfare. The core assertion:

Most of the observed increase in global average temperature since the mid 20th century is very likely due to the observed increase in anthropogenic GHG [greenhouse gas] concentrations. [Italics added.]

This statement is lifted from a blatantly political entity, the U.S. Climate Change Science Program, which in turn borrowed it from a 2007 manifesto authored by the IPCC. “Most” means more than half, and the EPA says the earth has warmed by about 0.70 degrees Celsius since 1950. As I’ve explained previously, a peer-reviewed paper that the EPA ignored in making their endangerment findings, as well as another published just a month later (which their scientists should have known about), have indicated that only about .31 degrees Celsius’s worth of warming can be attributed to greenhouse gases. That’s less than half.

Then, as the IPCC’s high-powered spin engine unspooled, it became clear that the entire 2007 report the EPA indirectly relied upon was a mess. Its absurd claim that the Himalayan glaciers could disappear in 25 years (they are hundreds of feet thick, and melting would take hundreds of years), it admitted, was in error. The author responsible for the chapter on Asian climate, Murari Lal, finally ’fessed up that it was there to goad India, which derives water from these ice fields, into agreeing to emissions reductions.

The primary author of the report is one of the world’s leading climatologists, Martin Parry. How could he have missed the Himalayan error? And, for that matter, how did he miss that IPCC used a non-refereed environmentalist publication to claim that yields from rain-fed agriculture in Africa could decline 50 percent in the next decade? His own research in the field shows otherwise.

The IPCC also claimed that over half of the Netherlands is below sea level. It’s actually 26 percent, but that one may be excusable: The non-refereed citation in that instance is the Dutch government.

Not excusable is using the World Wildlife Fund as the source for a statement that “up to 40 percent of the Amazon rainforest could react drastically to even a slight reduction in precipitation.” The Amazon just went through one of its biggest droughts in history, with little effect evident from satellite data.

Finally, the IPCC has denied up and down that there has been any significant change in Southern Hemisphere sea-ice cover. In fact, satellite data readily show a highly significant increase since measurements began in 1979.

That’s five exaggerations in one report. No one has yet found any instance in which the IPCC understated some effect of global warming. It’s like flipping a coin five times and getting all heads. It happens — with a probability of .03. Scientists like to use the .05 probability as the threshold for a significant relationship. In the case of the IPCC, the relationship is called “bias.”

Yes, it has been quite a year. Climategate. The failure in Copenhagen. The EPA issuing an endangerment finding in which the core scientific fact turns out to have been cooked. The IPCC blow-up. And yet Lindsey Graham and President Obama are dead-set on cramming a new global-warming tax down our throats. How they figure to sell this policy in light of what has happened since November is anyone’s guess. Damn the data; full speed ahead!

— Patrick J. Michaels, a senior fellow in environmental studies at the Cato Institute, is the author of Climate of Extremes: Global Warming Science They Don't Want You to Know.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

I voted Democrat because... @ AMERICAN DIGEST

April 21, 2010
I voted Democrat because...

Happy Daze R' Here Again: Free cars, houses and Botox all around!

When your friends can't explain why they voted for Democrats, give them this list. They can then pick a reason.

10. I voted Democrat because I believe oil companies' profits of 4% on a gallon of gas are obscene but the government taxing the same gallon of gas at 15% isn't.

9. I voted Democrat because I believe the government will do a better job of spending the money I earn than I would.

8. I voted Democrat because Freedom of speech is fine as long as nobody is offended by it.

7. I voted Democrat because I'm way too irresponsible to own a gun, and I know that my local police are all I need to protect me from murderers and thieves.

6. I voted Democrat because I believe that people who can't tell us if it will rain on Friday can tell us that the polar ice caps will melt away in ten years if I don't start driving a Prius.

5. I voted Democrat because I'm not concerned about the slaughter of millions of babies through abortion so long as we keep all death row inmates alive.

4. I voted Democrat because I think illegal aliens have a right to free health care, education, and Social Security benefits.

3. I voted Democrat because I believe that business should not be allowed to make profits for themselves. They need to break even and give the rest away to the government for redistribution as the democrats see fit.

2. I voted Democrat because I believe liberal judges need to rewrite the Constitution every few days to suit some fringe kooks who would never get their agendas past the voters.

1. I voted Democrat because my head is so firmly planted up my ass it's unlikely that I'll ever have another point of view.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Fountainhead Speech

Howard Roark's
Courtroom Speech

From The Fountainhead, by Ayn Rand

“Thousands of years ago, the first man discovered how to make fire. He was probably burned at the stake he had taught his brothers to light. He was considered an evildoer who had dealt with a demon mankind dreaded. But thereafter men had fire to keep them warm, to cook their food, to light their caves. He had left them a gift they had not conceived and he had lifted dardness off the earth. Centuries later, the first man invented the wheel. He was probably torn on the rack he had taught his brothers to build. He was considered a transgressor who ventured into forbidden terrritory. But thereafter, men could travel past any horizon. He had left them a gift they had not conceived and he had opened the roads of the world.
“That man, the unsubmissive and first, stands in the opening chapter of every legend mankind has recorded about its beginning. Prometheus was chained to a rock and torn by vultures—because he had stolen the fire of the gods. Adam was condemned to suffer—because he had eaten the fruit of the tree of knowledge. Whatever the legend, somewhere in the shadows of its memory mankind knew that its glory began with one and that that one paid for his courage.
“Throughout the centuries there were men who took first steps down new roads armed with nothing but their own vision. Their goals differed, but they all had this in common: that the step was first, the road new, the vision unborrowed, and the response they received—hatred. The great creators—the thinkers, the artists, the scientists, the inventors—stood alone against the men of their time. Every great new thought was opposed. Every great new invention was denounced. The first motor was considered foolish. The airplane was considered impossible. The power loom was considered vicious. Anesthesia was considered sinful. But the men of unborrowed vision went ahead. They fought, they suffered and they paid. But they won.
“No creator was prompted by a desire to serve his brothers, for his brothers rejected the gift he offered and that gift destroyed the slothful routine of their lives. His truth was his only motive. His own truth, and his own work to achieve it in his own way. A symphony, a book, an engine, a philosophy, an airplane or a building—that was his goal and his life. Not those who heard, read, operated, believed, flew or inhabited the thing he had created. The creation, not its users. The creation, not the benefits others derived from it. The creation which gave form to his truth. He held his truth above all things and against all men.
“His vision, his strength, his courage came from his own spirit. A man's spirit, however, is his self. That entity which is his consciousness. To think, to feel, to judge, to act are functions of the ego.
“The creators were not selfless. It is the whole secret of their power—that it was self-sufficient, self-motivated, self-generated. A first cause, a fount of energy, a life force, a Prime Mover. The creator served nothing and no one. He lived for himself.
“And only by living for himself was he able to achieve the things which are the glory of mankind. Such is the nature of achievement.
“Man cannot survive except through his mind. He comes on earth unarmed. His brain is his only weapon. Animals obtain food by force. Man has no claws, no fangs, no horns, no great strength of muscle. He must plant his food or hunt it. To plant, he needs a process of thought. To hunt, he needs weapons, and to make weapons—a process of thought. From this simplest necessity to the highest religious abstraction, from the wheel to the skyscraper, everything we are and everything we have comes from a single attribute of man—the function of his reasoning mind.
“But the mind is an attribute of the individual. There is no such thing as a collective brain. There is no such thing as a collective thought. An agreement reached by a group of men is only a compromise or an average drawn upon many individual thoughts. It is a secondary consequence. The primary act—the process of reason—must be performed by each man alone. We can divide a meal among many men. We cannot digest it in a collective stomach. No man can use his lungs to breathe for another man. No man can use his brain to think for another. All the functions of body and spirit are private. They cannot be shared or transferred.
“We inherit the products of the thought of other men. We inherit the wheel. We make a cart. The cart becomes an automobile. The automobile becomes an airplane. But all through the process what we receive from others is only the end product of their thinking. The moving force is the creative faculty which takes this product as material, uses it and originates the next step. This creative faculty cannot be given or received, shared or borrowed. It belongs to single, individual men. That which it creates is the property of the creator. Men learn from one another. But all learning is only the exchange of material. No man can give another the capacity to think. Yet that capacity is our only means of survival.
“Nothing is given to man on earth. Everything he needs has to be produced. And here man faces his basic alternative: he can survive in only one of two ways—by the independent work of his own mind or as a parasite fed by the minds of others. The creator originates. The parasite borrows. The creator faces nature alone. The parasite faces nature through an intermediary.
“The creator’s concern is the conquest of nature. The parasite’s concern is the conquest of men.
“The creator lives for his work. He needs no other men. His primary goal is within himself. The parasite lives second-hand. He needs others. Others become his prime motive.
“The basic need of the creator is independence. The reasoning mind cannot work under any form of compulsion. It cannot be curbed, sacrificed or subordinated to any consideration whatsoever. It demands total independence in function and in motive. To a creator, all relations with men are secondary.
“The basic need of the second-hander is to secure his ties with men in order to be fed. He places relations first. He declares that man exists in order to serve others. He preaches altruism.
“Altruism is the doctrine which demands that man live for others and place others above self.
“No man can live for another. He cannot share his spirit just as he cannot share his body. But the second-hander has used altruism as a weapon of expoloitation and reversed the base of mankind’s moral principles. Men have been taught every precept that destroys the creator. Men have been taught dependence as a virtue.
“The man who attemps to live for others is a dependent. He is a parasite in motive and makes parasites of those he serves. The relationship produces nothing but mutual corruption. It is impossible in concept. The nearest approach to it in reality—the man who lives to serve others—is the slave. If physical slavery is repulsive, how much more repulsive is the concept of servility of the spirit? The conquered slave has a vestige of honor. He has the merit of having resisted and of considering his condition evil. But the man who enslaves himself voluntarily in the name of love is the basest of creatures. He degrades the dignity of man and he degrades the conception of love. But this is the essence of altruism.
“Men have been taught that the highest virtue is not to achieve, but to give. Yet one cannot give that which has not been created. Creation comes before distribution—or there will be nothing to distribute. The need of the creator comes before the need of any possible beneficiary. Yet we are taught to admire the second-hander who dispenses gifts he has not produced above the man who made the gifts possible. We praise an act of charity. We shrug at an act of achievement.
“Men have been taught that their first concern is to relieve the sufferings of others. But suffering is a disease. Should one come upon it, one tries to give relief and assistance. To make that the highest test of virtue is to make suffering the most important part of life. Then man must wish to see others suffer—in order that he may be virtuous. Such is the nature of altruism. The creator is not concerned with disease, but with life. Yet the work of the creators has eliminated one form of disease after another, in man’s body and spirit, and brought more relief from suffering than any altruist could ever conceive.
“Men have been taught that it is a virtue to agree with others. But the creator is the man who disagrees. Men have been taught that it is a virtue to swim with the current. But the creator is the man who goes against the current. Men have been taught that it is a virtue to stand together. But the creator is the man who stands alone.
“Men have been taught that the ego is the synonym of evil, and selflessness the ideal of virtue. But the creator is the egotist in the absolute sense, and the selfless man is the one who does not think, feel, judge or act. These are functions of the self.
“Here the basic reversal is most deadly. The issue has been perverted and man has been left no alternative—and no freedom. As poles of good and evil, he was offered two conceptions: egotism and altruism. Egotism was held to mean the sacrifice of others to self. Altruism—the sacrifice of self to others. This tied man irrevocably to other men and left him nothing but a choice of pain: his own pain borne for the sake of others or pain inflicted upon others for the sake of self. When it was added that man must find joy in self-immolation, the trap was closed. Man was forced to accept masochism as his ideal—under the threat that sadism was his only alternative. This was the greatest fraud ever perpetrated on mankind.
“This was the device by which dependence and suffering were perpetuated as fundamentals of life.
“The choice is not self-sacrifice or domination. The choice is independence or dependence. The code of the creator or the code of the second-hander. This is the basic issue. It rests upon the alternative of life or death. The code of the creator is built on the needs of the reasoning mind which allows man to survive. The code of the second-hander is built on the needs of a mind incapable of survival. All that which proceeds from man’s independent ego is good. All that which proceeds from man’s dependence upon men is evil.
“The egotist is the absolute sense is not the man who sacrifices others. He is the man who stands above the need of using others in any manner. He does not function through them. He is not concerned with them in any primary matter. Not in his aim, not in his motive, not in his thinking, not in his desires, not in the source of his energy. He does not exist for any other man—and he asks no other man to exist for him. This is the only form of brotherhood and mutual respect possible between men.
“Degrees of ability vary, but the basic principle remains the same: the degree of a man’s independence, initiative and personal love for his work determines his talent as a worker and his worth as a man. Independence is the only gauge of human virtue and value. What a man is and makes of himself; not what he has or hasn’t done for others. There is no substitute for personal dignity. There is no standard of personal dignity except independence.
“In all proper relationships there is no sacrifice of anyone to anyone. An architect needs clients, but he does not subordinate his work to their wishes. They need him, but they do not order a house just to give him a commission. Men exchange their work by free, mutual consent to mutual advantage when their personal interests agree and they both desire the exchange. If they do not desire it, they are not forced to deal with each other. They seek further. This is the only possible form of relationship between equals. Anything else is a relation of slave to master, or victim to executioner.
“No work is ever done collectively, by a majority decision. Every creative job is achieved under the guidance of a single individual thought. An architect requires a great many men to erect his building. But he does not ask them to vote on his design. They work together by free agreement and each is free in his proper function. An architect uses steel, glass, concrete, produced by others. But the materials remain just so much steel, glass and concrete until he touches them. What he does with them is his individual product and his individual property. This is the only pattern for proper co-operation among men.
“The first right on earth is the right of the ego. Man’s first duty is to himself. His moral law is never to place his prime goal within the persons of others. His moral obligation is to do what he wishes, provided his wish does not depend primarily upon other men. This includes the whole sphere of his creative faculty, his thinking, his work. But it does not include the sphere of the gangster, the altruist and the dictator.
“A man thinks and works alone. A man cannot rob, exploit or rule—alone. Robbery, exploitation and ruling presuppose victims. They imply dependence. They are the province of the second-hander.
“Rulers of men are not egotists. They create nothing. They exist entirely through the persons of others. Their goal is in their subjects, in the activity of enslaving. They are as dependent as the beggar, the social worker and the bandit. The form of dependence does not matter.
“But men were taught to regard second-handers—tyrants, emperors, dictators—as exponents of egotism. By this fraud they were made to destroy the ego, themselves and others. The purpose of the fraud was to destroy the creators. Or to harness them. Which is a synonym.
“From the beginning of history, the two antagonists have stood face to face: the creator and the second-hander. When the first creator invented the wheel, the first second-hander responded. He invented altruism.
“The creator—denied, opposed, persecuted, exploited—went on, moved forward and carried all humanity along on his energy. The second-hander contributed nothing to the process except the impediments. The contest has another name: the individual against the collective.
“The ‘common good’ of a collective—a race, a class, a state—was the claim and justification of every tyranny ever established over men. Every major horror of history was committed in the name of an altruistic motive. Has any act of selfishness ever equaled the carnage perpetrated by disciples of altruism? Does the fault lie in men’s hypocrisy or in the nature of the principle? The most dreadful butchers were the most sincere. They believed in the perfect society reached through the guillotine and the firing squad. Nobody questioned their right to murder since they were murdering for an altruistic purpose. It was accepted that man must be sacrificed for other men. Actors change, but the course of the tragedy remains the same. A humanitarian who starts with declarations of love for mankind and ends with a sea of blood. It goes on and will go on so long as men believe that an action is good if it is unselfish. That permits the altruist to act and forces his victims to bear it. The leaders of collectivist movements ask nothing for themselves. But observe the results.
“The only good which men can do to one another and the only statement of their proper relationship is—Hands off!
“Now observe the results of a society built on the principle of individualism. This, our country. The noblest country in the history of men. The country of greatest achievement, greatest prosperity, greatest freedom. This country was not based on selfless service, sacrifice, renunciation or any precept of altruism. It was based on a man’s right to the pursuit of happiness. His own happiness. Not anyone else’s. A private, personal, selfish motive. Look at the results. Look into your own conscience.
“It is an ancient conflict. Men have come close to the truth, but it was destroyed each time and one civilization fell after another. Civilization is the progress toward a society of privacy. The savage’s whole existence is public, ruled by the laws of his tribe. Civilization is the process of setting man free from men.
“Now, in our age, collectivism, the rule of the second-hander and second-rater, the ancient monster, has broken loose and is running amuck. It has brought men to a level of intellectual indecency never equaled on earth. It has reached a scale of horror without precedent. It has poisoned every mind. It has swallowed most of Europe. It is engulfing our country.
“I am an architect. I know what is to come by the principle on which it is built. We are approaching a world in which I cannot permit myself to live.
“Now you know why I dynamited Cortlandt.
“I designed Cortlandt. I gave it to you. I destroyed it.
“I destroyed it because I did not choose to let it exist. It was a double monster. In form and in implication. I had to blast both. The form was mutilated by two second-handers who assumed the right to improve upon that which they had not made and could not equal. They were permitted to do it by the general implication that the altruistic purpose of the building superseded all rights and that I had no claim to stand against it.
“I agreed to design Cortlandt for the purpose of seeing it erected as I dedigned it and for no other reason. That was the price I set for my work. I was not paid.
“I do not blame Peter Keating. He was helpless. He had a contract with his employers. It was ignored. He had a promise that the structure he offered would be built as designed. The promise was broken. The love of a man for the integrity of his work and his right to preserve it are now considered a vague intangible and an inessential. You have heard the prosecutor say that. Why was the building disfigured? For no reason. Such acts never have any reason, unless it’s the vanity of some second-handers who feel they have a right to anyone’s property, spiritual or material. Who permitted them to do it? No particular man among the dozens in authority. No one cared to permit it or to stop it. No one was responsible. No one can be held to account. Such is the nature of all collective action.
“I did not receive the payment I asked. But the owners of Cortlandt got what they needed from me. They wanted a scheme devised to build a structure as cheaply as possible. They found no one else who could do it to their satisfaction. I could and did. They took the benefit of my work and made me contribute it as a gift. But I am not an altruist. I do not contribute gifts of this nature.
“It is said that I have destroyed the home of the destitute. It is forgotten that but for me the destitute could not have had this particular home. Those who were concerned with the poor had to come to me, who have never been concerned, in order to help the poor. It is believed that the poverty of the future tenants gave them the right to my work. That their need constituted a claim on my life. That it was my duty to contribute anything demanded of me. This is the second-hander’s credo now swallowing the world.
“I came here to say that I do not recognize anyone’s right to one minute of my life. Nor to any part of my energy. Nor to any achievement of mine. No matter who makes the claim, how large their number or how great their need.
“I wished to come here and say that I am a man who does not exist for others.
“It had to be said. The world is perishing from an orgy of self-sacrificing.
“I wished to come here and say that the integrity of a man’s creative work is of greater importance than any charitable endeavor. Those of you who do not understand this are the men who’re destroying the world.
“I wished to come here and state my terms. I do not care to exist on any others.
“I recognize no obligations toward men except one: to respect their freedom and to take no part in a slave society. To my country, I wish to give the ten years which I will spend in jail if my country exists no longer. I will spend them in memory and in gratitude for what my country has been. It will be my act of loyalty, my refusal to live or work in what has taken its place.
“My act of loyalty to every creator who ever lived and was made to suffer by the force responsible for the Cortlandt I dynamited. To every tortured hour of loneliness, denial, frustration, abuse he was made to spend—and to the battles he won. To every creator whose name is known—and to every creator who lived, struggled and perished unrecognized before he could achieve. To every creator who was destroyed in body or in spirit. To Henry Cameron. To Steven Mallory. To a man who doesn’t want to be named, but who is sitting in this courtroom and knows that I am speaking of him.”

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Army combat unit to deploy within U.S. -

October 3, 2008 -- Updated 0232 GMT (1032 HKT)

Army combat unit to deploy within U.S.

From Larry Shaughnessy
CNN Pentagon producer

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The United States military's Northern Command, formed in the wake of the September 11 terrorist attacks, is dedicating a combat infantry team to deal with catastrophes in the U.S., including terrorist attacks and natural disasters.

Soldiers preparing for a mission coordinated by Joint Task Force North, the U.S. Northern Command unit.

The 1st Brigade Combat Team of the 3rd Infantry, which was first into Baghdad, Iraq, in 2003, started its controversial assignment Wednesday.

The First Raiders will spend 2009 as the first active-duty military unit attached to the U.S. Northern Command since it was created. They will be based in Fort Stewart, Georgia, and focus primarily on logistics and support for local police and rescue personnel, the Army says.

The plan is drawing skepticism from some observers who are concerned that the unit has been training with equipment generally used in law enforcement, including beanbag bullets, Tasers, spike strips and roadblocks.

That kind of training seems a bit out of line for the unit's designated role as Northern Command's CCMRF (Sea Smurf), or CBRNE Consequence Management Response Force. CBRNE stands for chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and high-yield explosive incidents.

According to Northern Command's Web site, the CBRNE Consequence Management Response Force is a team that will ultimately number about 4,700 personnel from the different military branches that would deploy as the Department of Defense's initial response force.

Its capabilities include search and rescue, decontamination, medical, aviation, communications and logistical support. Each CCMRF will be composed of three functional task forces -- Task Force Operations, Task Force Medical and Task Force Aviation -- that have individual operational focus and mission skills, the Web site says.

The Army says the unit would be deployed to help local, state or federal agencies deal with such incidents, not take the lead. The law enforcement-type training is not connected to its new mission, it says.

Use of active-duty military as a domestic police force has been severely limited since passage of the Posse Comitatus Act following the Civil War.
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Bloggers are criticizing the new force, saying that because it has been training in law enforcement tactics it could be be used for domestic law enforcement.

Troops may be trained in non-lethal tactics, but they are not trained for what they may have to deal with in domestic situations, said Gene Healy, a vice president of the conservative think-tank Cato Institute.

Healy said civilian police and, if circumstances are extreme, National Guard troops under the command of state governors should keep the peace.

"Federal troops should always be a last resort, never a first responder," he said.

Critics also point to a General Accounting Office study in 2003 that found that domestic security missions put a strain on a military stretched thin by two simultaneous wars, and that a unit's readiness for combat is reduced if the members have to take time out to respond to an emergency at home.

The U.S. military "is not a Swiss Army knife," ready to fight the Taliban one week, respond to a hurricane the next and put down a major political protest the third week, Healy said.

The Army says the non-lethal training is an outgrowth of missions that troops have faced around the world in recent years.

"We need a lot more in our toolbox in order to deal with angry people on the street," said Col. Barry Johnson of U.S. Army North.

The units are well-trained in the skills they might need to assist the Northern Command, and that won't weaken the unit when and if it goes back to Iraq.

The designation of a specific unit as the CCMRF is a step forward, he said.

The active-duty military has long had units capable of handling chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear or other domestic emergencies, such as hurricanes, Johnson said. But they were assigned as needed. Now they will have a unit that knows in advance that it might be called upon to respond in a domestic emergency.

"We don't have the luxury to wish these things away. We have to imagine the unimaginable," Johnson said.

Special army unit ready to be deployed on American soil just before Nov. elections (Update)

Special army unit ready to be deployed on American soil just before Nov. elections (Update)
April 13, 5:16 PMConservative ExaminerAnthony G. Martin

In October of this year, one month prior to the November midterm elections, a special army unit known as 'Consequence Management Response Force' will be ready for deployment on American soil if so ordered by the President.

The special force, which is the new name being given to the 1st Brigade Combat Team of the 3rd Infantry, has been training at Fort Stewart, Georgia and is composed of 80,000 troops.

According to the Army Times,

They may be called upon to help with civil unrest and crowd control or to deal with potentially horrific scenarios such as massive poisoning and chaos in response to a chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear or high-yield explosive, or CBRNE, attack.

The key phrase is 'may be called upon to help with civil unrest.'

This afternoon a local radio talk show host reported that he had been in contact with a member of the military. This military source stated that the armed forces have been alerted to the strong possibility that civil unrest may occur in the United States this summer, prior to the midterm elections of 2010.

The source described this as 'our long, hot summer of discontent' that could be eerily reminiscent of the summer of 1968 when riots broke out in many of our largest cities.

However, the summer of 2010 could well be much worse due to the players involved. In 1968 the major players were war protesters. This time, the outrage simmering beneath the surface of American society involves a broad cross-section of the heartland, and most of them are heavily armed.

It is highly unlikely that these citizens would ever initiate armed conflict of any kind. In their view, gun rights are for self-defense--and for defense against tyrannical government, which our Founders regarded as the most dangerous force on earth.

However, it has become clear that other groups may well initiate violence in order to start an 'incident' that would give Obama and a rogue Congress a reason to implement martial law, confiscate the citizens' guns, enforce curfews, and suspend all future elections until such time as it is deemed 'safe' to proceed with human liberty as encapsulated in the right to vote.

Tea Party members, for example, have been warned in recent days that members of Andy Stern's SEIU union and members of the organization formerly known as ACORN plan to infiltrate Tea Party gatherings in order to incite some sort of incident that could result in armed conflict.

In addition, all indications point to a humiliating defeat for the Democrats and Obama in November. Not only will the House in all likelihood transfer to Republican control, but it is increasingly possible for the Democrats to lose the Senate as well.

And there are Leftwing groups in this country that would use whatever means necessary to prevent that from happening.

ACORN has already gone underground, changing its name so as to fly beneath the radar screen. How many people will the group register to vote illegally?

And with Obama's plan to naturalize between 10 and 20 million illegal aliens, a brand new voter base for the Democrats will be in place prior to November.

Add to this the growing unrest over continued high unemployment, the coming spike in interest rates and inflation, and the still-boiling outrage over the manner in which Obama and the Democrats shoved ObamaCare down the throats of the citizens, and all of the ingredients are present for a major F-5 tornado to sweep across the heartland.

To what extent would soldiers use deadly force during such 'civil unrest' should the Consequence Management Response Team be utilized? During the anti-war riots of the 1960s they killed student protesters. What about now?

The military source cited by the radio host today was asked this very question. He would merely say that the culture of the U.S. military is changing--half support Obama and the other half are dead-set against him.

His conclusion? There is no way to know for sure if they would obey an order to open fire on ordinary citizens.

Update: The Cato Institute published this warning when the program was launched in its first phase in 2008 (the program has been updated and expanded since 2008). The Founders insisted that standing armies were never to be used against American citizens on our own soil, no matter what violations of this principle have occurred in the years following. In the spirit of the Patriots and of real journalists government must be questioned constantly and held to intense scrutiny in order to preserve liberty.