Shared posts

24 Apr 17:18

Ep. 388 Is America a Police State? Here’s the Evidence

by Tom Woods

About the Guest

John Whitehead is an attorney and author who has written, debated and practiced widely in the area of constitutional law and human rights. He established the Rutherford Institute back in 1982 and still serves as President and spokesman.

Book Discussed

Battlefield America: The War on the American People

Guest’s Website

Guest’s Facebook

Rutherford Institute

Guest’s Twitter


Related Book by the Guest

A Government of Wolves: The Emerging American Police State

Previous Appearance

Ep. 28 The American Police State (John Whitehead)

Related Episode

Ep. 88 The Economics of the Police State (Tom Woods)

Special Offers

If you enjoy the Tom Woods Show, my new book — Real Dissent: A Libertarian Sets Fire to the Index Card of Allowable Opinion — is for you. Check it out! And get a free copy of the audiobook version, with me reading it, at

Learn the history and economics they didn’t teach you, from professors you can trust and in courses you can listen to anywhere, at my at Take 30% off a year’s subscription with coupon code SHOW (all caps)!

Download Audio
23 Apr 22:20

Stalking the uncertainty monster

by curryja

by Judith Curry

Its time to check in with the Climate Uncertainty Monster.

The occasion for this post is an invitation to present a keynote talk at the 2nd International Workshop on Econometric Applications in Climatology.  The Workshop website is [here.]

To those of you that are new to Climate Etc., the concept of the ‘climate uncertainty monster’ seeded my inaugural posts at Climate Etc. in 2010 (Tag Uncertainty for entire series, see especially the earlier posts).

New presentation

My new ppt presentation can be downloaded here [uncertainty].  Check out the presentation; lots of good monster cartoons. Below is the text of my prepared remarks (I rambled on at the end including some material from my recent testimony that isn’t included in these remarks):

I’ve long been concerned about how the IPCC treats uncertainty, and in 2003 I started gathering my thoughts on this. A seminal event in my thinking on this subject occurred in 2010, when I attended the Royal Society Meeting on Scientific Uncertainty.

Let me start by describing the uncertainty monster, in context of the debate on climate change.  The “monster” is a metaphor used in analysis of the response of the scientific community to uncertainties at the climate science-policy interface. Confusion and ambiguity is associated with:

  • knowledge versus ignorance
  • objectivity versus subjectivity
  • facts versus values
  • prediction versus speculation
  • science versus policy

The climate uncertainty monster has its roots in philosophy and sociology.  Monster theory regards monsters as symbolic expressions of cultural unease that pervade a society and shape its collective behavior.  Dutch philosopher Martijntje Smits articulated the monster as co-existence of public fascination and discomfort with newer technologies.  Dutch social scientists Jeroen van der Sluijs articulated the ‘uncertainty monster’ as related to ways in which the scientific community responds to the monstrous uncertainties associated with environmental problems.

By way of introduction to this topic, I’m going to go through some uncertainty monster coping strategies, that are in evidence at the interface between climate science and policy.

Uncertainty monster hiding or the “never admit error” strategy can be motivated by a political agenda or because of fear that uncertain science will be judged as poor science by the outside world.  Apart from the ethical issues of monster hiding, the monster may be too big to hide and uncertainty hiding enrages the monster.

Ignoring the monster is typified by this statement from President Obama’s web page:  Call out the Climate Deniers – 97% of scientists agree.  A dubious paper that found a 97% consensus on fairly trivial aspects of climate change is then morphed into 97% of scientists agree that human-caused climate change is dangerous.

Monster simplifiers attempt to transform the monster by subjectively quantifying and simplifying the assessment of uncertainty. Monster simplification is formalized in the IPCC  by guidelines for characterizing uncertainty in a consensus approach consisting of expert judgment in the context of a subjective Bayesian analysis.

The uncertainty monster exorcist focuses on reducing the uncertainty through advocating for more research. In the 1990’s, a growing sense of the infeasibility of reducing uncertainties in global climate modeling emerged in response to the continued emergence of unforeseen complexities and sources of uncertainties.  For each head climate science chops off the uncertainty monster, several new monster heads tend to pop up.

The first type of uncertainty monster detective is the scientist who challenges existing theses and works to extend knowledge frontiers.  A second type is the watchdog auditor, whose main concern is accountability, quality control and transparency of the science. A third type distorts and magnifies uncertainties as an excuse for inaction for financial or ideological reasons.

Monster assimilation is about learning to live with the monster and giving uncertainty an explicit place in the contemplation and management of environmental risks.  Assessment and communication of uncertainty and ignorance, along with extended peer communities, are essential in monster assimilation. The challenge to monster assimilation is the ever-changing nature of the monster and the birth of new monsters.

The IPCC faces a daunting challenge with regards to characterizing and reasoning about uncertainty, assessing the quality of evidence, linking the evidence into arguments, identifying areas of ignorance, and assessing confidence levels. The IPCC uses a common vocabulary to express quantitative levels of confidence based on the amount of evidence (number of sources of information) and the degree of agreement (consensus) among experts.   Because of the difficulties of objective uncertainty assessments, the IPCC relies primarily on expert judgment in the context of a subjective Bayesian analysis.  A quantitative likelihood scale represents ‘a probabilistic assessment of some well-defined outcome having occurred or occurring in the future.’

The IPCC characterization of uncertainty is based upon a consensus building process that is an exercise in collective judgment in areas of uncertain knowledge. The general reasoning underlying the IPCC’s arguments for anthropogenic climate change combines a compilation of evidence with subjective Bayesian reasoning. A ‘consilience of evidence’ argument consists of independent lines of evidence that are explained by the same theoretical account.

In my assessment, the IPCC has institutionalized overconfidence. Scientists disagree because:

  • Insufficient observational evidence
  • Disagreement about the value of different classes of evidence (e.g. models)
  • Disagreement about the appropriate logical framework for linking and assessing the evidence
  • Assessments of areas of ambiguity and ignorance
  • Belief polarization as a result of politicization of the science

The climate debate is unfortunately characterized by competing certainties, characterized by the two guys hitting each other over the head. If uncertainty and ignorance are acknowledged adequately, then the competing certainties disappear. Disagreement then becomes the basis for focusing research in a certain area, and so moves the science forward.

About 5 years ago, following Climategate in fact, I became acutely concerned that climate scientists were focused on uncertainty hiding and simplification, which I regarded as a very unhealthy state of affairs for climate science. I began writing about this problem from multiple perspectives, including mathematics, philosophy, engineering applications, regulatory science, and even social psychology. I was seeking some new ideas for overcoming scientists’ bias about this topic and for employing more objective methods for understanding, characterizing and communicating uncertainty.

  • Curry, JA 2011: Reasoning about climate uncertainty. Climatic Change
  • Curry, JA and Webster PJ 2011: Climate science and the uncertainty monster. Bull Amer Meteorol. Soc.
  • Curry, JA 2011: Nullifying the climate null hypothesis. WIRES Climate Change
  • Curry JA, 2013: Climate change: No consensus on consensus. CAB Review


My main concern has been the overconfident conclusions put forward by the IPCC:

  • Consensus building process introduces biases
  • Ignorance and ambiguity is unaccounted for
  • Politicization acts to marginalize skeptical perspectives
  • Leads to overconfident conclusions

Symptoms of an enraged uncertainty monster include increased levels of confusion, ambiguity, discomfort and doubt.

Politicization of the issue of climate change has introduced huge biases into the science. However, when a scientific issue becomes politicized, and scientists attempt to speak consensus to power, then a scientific discussion of uncertainties is regarded as a political act.  There is an ideology that many climate scientists subscribe to, which I’ve termed the UNFCCC/IPCC ideology:

  1. Anthropogenic climate change is real
  2. Anthropogenic climate change is dangerous
  3. Action is needed to prevent dangerous climate change
  4. Deniers are attacking climate science and scientists
  5. Deniers and fossil fuel industry are delaying UNFCCC CO2 stabilization policies

The problem with scientists subscribing to this ideology is that there is a tendency for absence of doubt,
 intolerance of debate
, appeal to authority
, a desire to convince others of the ideological truth, and a willingness to punish those that don’t concur.

Given the enormous biases that ‘expert judment’ and ideology introduce into climate science, I have been pondering the feasibility of some more objective ways of understanding, characterizing and communicating uncertainty.

The bar on the bottom provides a good illustration of the different levels of uncertainty, starting on the left with determinism (implying no uncertainty). Statistical uncertainty Is when we have formulated a robust well defended PDF. The next level of uncertainty is when we don’t know the full PDF,, but we have some well defended percentile bounds. Scenario uncertainty means that we have some estimate of likelihood. The next level of uncertainty is that we have confidence in the sign or trend. With greater uncertainty than that, we head into the territory of ignorance. Personally, I would assess the 20th century climate attribution and 21st century climate projections at the 4.2 level (encompassing elements of scenario uncertainty and recognized ignorance).

In the previous slide, we discussed the uncertainty level. This diagram illustates also the nature of uncertainty. Epistemic uncertainty means that we have limited knowledge or information – this is the uncertainty type that in principle can be reduced. Ontic or aleatory uncertainty is irreducible; this relates to unavoidable predictability.

Another key factor to include in uncertainty assessments is quality of evidence.

  • High quality –  Further research is very unlikely to change our confidence in the estimate of effect
  • Moderate quality – Further research is likely to have an important impact on our confidence in the estimate of effect and may change the estimate.
  • Low quality – Further research is very likely to have an important impact on our confidence in the estimate of effect and may change the estimate
  • Very low quality –  Any estimate of effect is very uncertain.

As an example, I would argue that the quality of the historical surface temperature record is moderate to high quality. I suspect that paleoclimate estimates of global surface temperature are very low to low quality.

One of my biggest concerns about reasoning about climate uncertainty is that Bayesian methods have trouble dealing with true ignorance. In classical two valued logic, unknowns are undifferentiated which may lead to false assertions. Evidence based 3 valued logic, or the so-called italian flag, is more honest about unknowns and allows for a better analysis of uncertainty.

So here is the problem as I see it.  The drive to reduce scientific uncertainty in support of precautionary and optimal decision making strategies regarding CO2 mitigation has arguably resulted in:

  • unwarranted high confidence in assessments of climate change attribution, sensitivity and projections
  • relative neglect of black swans and dragon kings
  • relative neglect of decadal and longer scale modes of natural climate variability
  • conflicting “certainties” and policy inaction

The current focus on the precautionary principle and optimal decision making is driving climate policy to a position between a rock and hard place.  Motivated by the precautionary principle, emissions targets are being set based on highly uncertain climate model simulations.  Classical decision analysis can suggest statistically optimal strategies for decision makers when uncertainty is well characterized and model structure is well known.  Optimal decision making is  a poor fit for the climate change problem.

The reason that we find ourselves between a rock and a hard place on the climate change issue is that policy makers have mistaken climate change for a tame problem. Climate change is better viewed as a ‘wicked mess’. A wicked problem is complex with dimensions that are difficult to define and changing with time. A mess is characterized by the complexity of interrelated issues, with suboptimal solutions that create additional problems.

When confronted with deep uncertainties surrounding a complex wicked problem, better decision analytic frameworks include:

  • Enlarge the knowledge base for decisions
  • Adaptive management
  • Build a resilient society

In closing, I leave you with this quotation by Bruce Beck:

“Being open about uncertainty should be celebrated: in illuminating where our explanations and predictions can be trusted and in proceeding, then, in the cycle of things, to amending their flaws and blemishes.”

JC reflections

In the 5 years since I started stalking the uncertainty monster, we’ve seen a lot of intellectual progress on how to frame and approach this issue.  It is becoming easier for scientists to do and publish research that challenges the consensus.  That’s the good news.

The bad news is that the interface between climate science and policy remains badly broken.  Many politicians seem to have become uncertainty deniers, with President Obama leading the pack.  The UNFCCC/IPCC is on a collision course with reality; it will be interesting to see how the Paris meeting goes next Dec, and how the IPCC AR6 will proceed.  But science seems less and less relevant to what is going on in the policy arena.  Which is fine; please get out of our way and let us do our science so that we can try to figure all this out by exploring the knowledge frontiers, rather than pledging allegiance to the consensus.

Filed under: Uncertainty
23 Apr 21:17

Comcast-Time Warner Cable Merger Derailed

by Wayne Crews

Today we’ve learned again that bureaucrats and their enormous kingdoms come before consumer welfare. 

The collapse of the Comcast-Time Warner Cable merger merely because of the interference of government, not because of actual market rejection, illustrates the overwhelming power of the modern state in undermining the advance of communications technologies and services specifically in this instance, and of free competitive enterprise generally. 

The proposed transaction was first announced well over a year ago, and as is now the unfortunate and disruptive norm, the parties had to await the verdicts of bureaucracies rather than set immediately about serving consumer markets. Now, the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division and the Federal Communications Commission, whose edicts change the direction of entire industries with the slightest gesture, have decided to derail the deal.  

These bureaucrats have decided on our behalf that the merger wouldn’t help us. What they have really decided is that no competitor will need to react to the Comcast-TWC merger, and so competitors have been awarded a government-granted reprieve from the pressures of competition. Over and over, antitrust routinely harms consumers far more than any ordinary business transaction like this can ever do.

Sometimes mergers work, sometimes they don’t—like the failed AOL-Time Warner merger. But such matters should be settled in the marketplace, not by overlords in Washington who, if we are the slightest bit honest, are the real wielders of unchecked monopoly power over all industries, not just one sector like this.  

For an earlier discussion of this merger, here’s a column of mine in Forbes. “Why Organized Conservative Opposition To The Comcast Time Warner Deal Misfires.”

On the folly of antitrust regulation (and it is regulation), see my formal comments to the Federal Trade Commission’s Antitrust Modernization Commission

22 Apr 13:33

An Online University Course on the Science of Climate Science Denial

by mike

Guest post from John Cook, University of Queensland

For many years, RealClimate has been educating the public about climate science. The value of climate scientists patiently explaining the science and rebutting misinformation directly with the public cannot be overestimated. When I began investigating this issue, my initial searches led me here, which was invaluable in increasing my understanding of our climate and making sense of misinformation. RealClimate has inspired and empowered a host of climate communicators such as myself to step forward and help make climate science more accessible to the general public.

To further the work of educating the public, and empowering people to communicate the realities of climate change, the Skeptical Science team has collaborated with The University of Queensland to develop a MOOC, Making Sense of Climate Science Denial. MOOC stands for Massive (we’ve already had thousands of students sign up from over 130 countries) Open (available for free to everyone) Online (web-based, no software required) Course.

The course examines the science of climate science denial. Why do a small but vocal minority reject the scientific evidence for climate change? What techniques do they use to cast doubt on the science? And we examine the all-important question – based on scientific research, how should we respond to science denial?

Several strands of research in cognitive psychology, educational research and a branch of psychology called “inoculation theory” all point the way to neutralising the influence of science denial. The approach is two-fold: communicate the science but also explain how that science can be distorted.

So our course looks at the most common climate myths you’re likely to encounter online or in the media. We examine myths casting doubt on the reality of global warming. We explore the many human fingerprints on climate change. We look at the messages from past climate change and what climate models tell us about the future. And we look at how climate change is impacting every part of society and the environment. As we examine myths touching on all these parts of climate science, we shine the spotlight on the fallacies and techniques used to distort the science.


As well as our short video lectures debunking climate myths, we also interviewed many of the world’s leading scientists. I had the privilege to speak to Ben Santer, Katharine Hayhoe, Richard Alley, Phil Jones, Naomi Oreskes and let’s not forget my long, fascinating conversation with Michael Mann. I was also lucky enough to interview Sir David Attenborough at the Great Barrier Reef. We spoke to both climate scientists and social scientists who study the psychology of climate science denial. Some of the most powerful moments from those interviews came when the scientists described the attacks they’d personally experienced because of their climate research:

Our MOOC starts next Tuesday, April 28. It’s a free online course hosted by the not-for-profit edX (founded by Harvard University & MIT). It runs for 7 weeks, requiring 1 to 2 hours per week. You can enroll at

23 Apr 15:00

An Entire Town May Go Free-Range — and It’s Not Alone

by lskenazy


Here’s what is happening. Social historians take note: People are realizing that they WANT to be able to let their kids play outside, walk to the store, ride their bikes without fear of legal repercussions. And so they are starting to talk about this, in living rooms, on social media, and at city hall. Below is just ONE of about four or five letters I’ve gotten in the past few weeks about a town moving toward going “officially” Free-Range:

Dear Free-Range Kds:

I finally bit the bullet and did something that has been on my mind for ages. Your website, the Meitiv’s troubles, and having the police show up at my door because a “concerned citizen” called about my 8 year old walking 1,000ft to the bus stop alone made me decide, “Someone has to do something, and I guess that someone will be me.”
I posted the following in my neighborhood forum on
“If you are unfamiliar with the idea of ‘Free-Range Parenting,’ please Google it and check out

I’ve been thinking and thinking about how we (parents in general) could feel safe and comfortable giving our children the freedom and independence most of us had as children. The freedom to ride their bikes around the neighborhood “until the streetlights come on,” the freedom to walk to the parks, play there and walk home without having to be be watched every moment by a parent, the freedom to walk to a friend’s house or to school, just like most of us did when we were young. Freedoms that provided us with incredibly important learning experiences, and would provide our children with the same.

The more I thought about it the more I realized that people these days have the idea that the world is much less safe than it was when we were kids….but that isn’t true. (Look up the crime stats, especially crimes against kids.)

And I realized that a lot of us grew up in communities where our parents felt like if we got hurt, lost, or were misbehaving, a neighbor would help us and/or get us home.

And I realize that is something a lot of us don’t have these days. We fear that people we don’t know might be dangerous, even though most of us rationally know that the MOST adults would much sooner help our children than harm them, and we don’t make close friends with our neighbors.

Further, if we see a lost/hurt/alone child, or even just a child playing in the park or walking around the neighborhood alone, most of us are more apt to call the police than we are to just approach the child and ask, “Are you okay? Do you know how to get home? Do your parents know where you are? Do you know your Mommy/Daddy’s phone number?” And we assume that if we do approach the child we will be looked at by the child, the child’s parent, or some other passerby as the scary, creepy, stranger that most of us keep warning our children against.

And we are more apt to teach our children “DO NOT EVERY SPEAK TO STRANGERS!” than we are to teach them “MOST adults would rather help you than harm you, and if you need help, you should find an adult. BUT stay away from any adults that make you uncomfortable, ask you to do things you know you should not do, or act in ways you don’t usually see adults acting.”

We teach our children to avoid everyone they don’t already know, instead of teaching them ways to judge people safely, or trusting their “gut instincts” the way we usually trust ours. 

I know I’m being long-winded, but I feel passionate about this topic and want to connect with others who agree.

I think we should try to change this mindset. I think we should try to create communities where we feel comfortable letting our children have some freedom and independence to learn and show us how capable and intelligent they are, even without us hovering over them, and to let them have some of the joys we had playing outside with our friends for hours at a time. 

I think a couple of the ways we might be able to make that happen is to:
1. Get a group of parents together and maybe put together some flyers about how safe the world is now, compared to years ago
2. Maybe make a directory of parents/neighbors that agree to be emergency contacts for the neighborhood kids/ other parents? If a kid gets hurt they/their friend can go to or call the closest “emergency parent” to where they are, if a kid doesn’t come home on time, parents can call the people in the directory and see if they have seen the child. Things like that? Just a network of friendly helpful neighbors who will agree to help any kids who are lost/hurt/ need a glass of water, etc. They don’t necessarily have to be parents, possibly a grandparent, or just a friendly neighbor.
3. Maybe we can have a representative parent to go to their neighborhood meetings and let people know what we’re doing?

I don’t want this to seem like it has a to be a ton of work, it shouldn’t be, it should just be a way for all of us to feel like our kids can have some freedom, and still be safe and for us to know we have a good network of friendly neighbors.

Is this something anyone else is interested in?”
So, Lenore: At first I was really nervous that I was the only one around my neighborhood feeling like this and that I was going to get a bunch of responses saying “But..But…your children’s safety! Predators on every corner!” That has not been what has happened at all, not even once!
The response has been great! In 2 days I’ve had 10 people, some parents, a grandma, an aunt, and a friendly neighbor respond that they are completely on board. We live in an incredibly safe neighborhood, so almost no one is afraid of the super rare chance of their kids getting abducted or anything like that.
I’m planning on meeting up with the people who have responded, and their kids, and anyone else they bring alone on May 2nd (I intentionally planned that so it would be beofre the May 9th “Take our kids to the park…” day, so more people in my neighborhood would feel inclined to participate in that. :) )
I also called my local police department today to ask about the laws in my area regarding kids being home or out and about alone, they told me that — first, there is no state or local law regarding what age a kid can walk to school, be home, play at the park or walk home, alone.
If the police are called they take the situation on a case by case basis. If the parents are aware the kid is out, the kids seems mature and capable, then no problem. It is largely left up to the parents’ discretion, and no one will “get in trouble” unless the officer determines that the child is truly in danger or not capable or something like that. The officer I spoke to was really nice, and made it really clear that they have no intention of trying to get parents in trouble for letting their kids play outside, and they will defer to the parents’ determination of their child’s maturity unless the child is clearly in danger. 
I was also given the number of the department where I can reach the officer in charge of the “Zone” I live in, and told that I could absolutely schedule a time for him to meet up with me and my neighbors and our kids, so he is familiar with our faces, and knows that we fully intend on letting our kids be “Free-Range.”
I recommended to my neighbors that we give our kids the Free-Range Kids memberships cards I found on your site that have the parents’ name and phone number and say, “I have permission to be out playing without an adult.”
I’m so excited.
Lenore here: Me too. Beyond excited. This is a sea change.
What? Not stop kids from playing outside?Their town is going to look like ours!

What? Not stop kids from playing outside?Their town is going to look like ours!

22 Apr 12:39

Bjorn Stevens in the cross-fire

by curryja

by Judith Curry

Bjorn Stevens has published two interesting and important papers in the last few weeks, which have placed him squarely in the cross-fire of both the scientific and public debates on climate change.

Paper #1

This paper was discussed in Nic Lewis recent post Implications of aerosol forcing for climate sensitivity.  The paper:

Rethinking the lower bound on aerosol radiative forcing

Bjorn Stevens

Abstract. Based on research showing that in the case of a strong aerosol forcing, this forcing establishes itself early in the historical record, a simple model is constructed to explore the implications of a strongly negative aerosol forcing on the early (pre 1950) part of the instrumental record. This model, which contains terms representing both aerosol-radiation and aerosol-cloud interactions well represents the known time history of aerosol radiative forcing, as well as the effect of the natural state on the strength of aerosol forcing. Model parameters, randomly drawn to represent uncertainty in understanding, demonstrates that a forcing more negative than −1.0 W m−2 is implausible, as it implies that none of the approximately 0.3 K temperature rise between 1850 and 1950 can be attributed to northern-hemispheric forcing. The individual terms of the model are interpreted in light of comprehensive modeling, constraints from observations, and physical understanding, to provide further support for the less negative ( −1.0 W m−2 ) lower bound. These findings suggest that aerosol radiative forcing is less negative and more certain than is commonly believed.

The implications of Steven’s result, when combined with climate sensitivity estimates, was summarized in my recent testimony:

However, the reduced estimates of aerosol cooling lead inescapably to reductions in the estimated upper bound of climate sensitivity.

The alleged ‘denier’ wing of the media wrote articles typified by this Breitbart article:  New climate paper gives global warming alarmists ‘one helluva beating.’

Bjorn Stevens responded with a letter posted on his website, entitled: No, My Study Is Not a “Death Blow” to Global Warming Hysteria

Paper #2

A new paper by Stevens was published yesterday:

Missing iris effect as possible cause of muted hydrological change and high sensitivity in climate models

Thorsten Mauritsen and Bjorn Stevens

Abstract. Equilibrium climate sensitivity to a doubling of CO2 falls between 2.0 and 4.6 K in current climate models, and they suggest a weak increase in global mean precipitation. Inferences from the observational record, however, place climate sensitivity near the lower end of this range and indicate that models underestimate some of the changes in the hydrological cycle. These discrepancies raise the possibility that important feedbacks are missing from the models. A controversial hypothesis suggests that the dry and clear regions of the tropical atmosphere expand in a warming climate and thereby allow more infrared radiation to escape to space. This so-called iris effect could constitute a negative feedback that is not included in climate models. We find that inclusion of such an effect in a climate model moves the simulated responses of both temperature and the hydrological cycle to rising atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations closer to observations. Alternative suggestions for shortcomings of models — such as aerosol cooling, volcanic eruptions or insufficient ocean heat uptake — may explain a slow observed transient warming relative to models, but not the observed enhancement of the hydrological cycle. We propose that, if precipitating convective clouds are more likely to cluster into larger clouds as temperatures rise, this process could constitute a plausible physical mechanism for an iris effect.

The media hasn’t had much of a chance to respond to this one yet, but for reference see this backstory on Lindzen’s adaptive iris effect  in the Wikipedia (includes links to the relevant publications).  NASA has a pretty good article (2002)  explaining the iris effect.

The rejection of Lindzen’s iris hypothesis by ‘important’ scientists (see BishopHill for some quotes)  has long been used to discredit anything Lindzen has to say on climate.

In the past year, I’ve encountered two other talks that supported the iris hypothesis (one that I can’t remember and another one by Kerry Emanuel). There’s also a paper by Sandrine Bony.  I need to dig into this subject (it’s right up my scientific alley), and hope to do a technical post on this sometime soon.

Chronicle of Higher Education

But back to the cross-fire; how are the ‘consensus police’ taking this?   Paul Voosen (one of my favorite science journalists) has a good article In Search of Limits, a Scientist Pushes Bounds. Excerpts:

Climate contrarians got hold of it, and conservative websites like the Daily Caller pumped up its results to argue that it was a “death blow” to global-warming “hysteria.” Mr. Stevens had been dragooned into the climate war.

It was a fight Mr. Stevens didn’t want, but he wasn’t afraid of it. It’s a truism today that scientists who study the slowest possible speed at which the planet will warm will have their work adopted and misused by contrarians. It’s the type of attention that leaves researchers wary, Mr. Stevens said.

“There is a certain hesitance to work on topics that could be used by others to call into question those things we think we know,” he said. “We would have a much more vigorous debate if we weren’t worried about our words being misused.”

Mr. Stevens’s willingness to enter the fray will come further into view on Monday, with the publication of a new paper, written with Thorsten Mauritsen, in Nature Geoscience that gives ever-so-slight credence to a favorite theory of climate contrarians called the “iris effect.”

It’s meant as a conversational stimulant, Mr. Stevens said. That’s not necessarily how it’s being taken, he added. “People are nervous about the result being misinterpreted.”

Some scientists, though they welcome Mr. Stevens’s contribution, wish the paper had been written in a different way. “This paper is designed to make a larger story out of a relatively small result,” said Chris Bretherton, a professor of atmospheric sciences and applied mathematics at the University of Washington.

“I thought this was not well written and quite misleading,” added Kevin E. Trenberth, a senior scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research. There was no need to sound the “iris” trumpet, given how far it was from Mr. Lindzen’s original ideas, he added. “They even put it in the damn title.”

Contrarians often paint climate science as a clubby community of conspirators. This is a fine example of how researchers will investigate any idea if it has merit, said Raymond T. Pierrehumbert, a geoscience professor at the University of Chicago.

“It’s a good thing that people take the ideas seriously and think hard about them,” he said, “because even wrong ideas can be stimulating.”

For Mr. Lindzen, the new paper serves as a bit of told-you-so in the twilight of his career. He’s unable to get his new work past peer review, he says. Other researchers would say that’s because he ignores appropriate criticisms of his ideas, but Mr. Lindzen compared it to being a Soviet scientist trying to publish about relativity during Stalinism.

“What Bjorn is doing is going as far as you can and still get published,” Mr. Lindzen said.

For all the headaches he’s caused other climate scientists, Mr. Lindzen did play a role in pointing out the need to understand high-cloud effects better. But then he became his own worst enemy, Mr. Pierrehumbert said, turning “iris so disreputable by making outrageous claims.”

Mr. Trenberth has spent a lot of time exposing flaws in Mr. Lindzen’s work; there’s other research he could have done. “You may learn some things in the process, but in some ways it’s a waste of time,” Mr. Trenberth said.

Sure, Mr. Pierrehumbert said, it’s a good idea to avoid sloppy phrasing that can be easily misquoted, but communicating the work to other scientists is most important. Distortion is “just the cost of doing business,” he said. “There’s really no way to actually keep any kind of work from being misused.”

“My job,” Mr. Stevens said, “isn’t to convince the public more” about the reality of climate change. “I have a naïve faith the truth will win out.”

As someone who had his correspondence leaked and his words used against his research, Mr. Trenberth is not so sure. The notion that climate scientists could be free again to speak, in public, in full candor?

“That’s a naïve hope,” he said.

JC comment:  Bjorn Stevens hits the bullseye with the bolded statement above.  The scientists griping about all this are advocates, trying to convince the public of the ‘reality’ of climate change so that they will support emissions reductions policies.  As Stevens rightly points out, this is not the job of climate scientists.

Uncertainty monster

In the early noughties, Bjorn Stevens and I attended a lot of the same meetings, mostly related to the GEWEX Cloud Systems Study group.  I hadn’t seen him in awhile, but we both attended the 2011 Santa Fe Conference on Global and Regional Climate (discussed in this previous blog post).  Excerpt:

On Tuesday night, a conference dinner was held. I gave a keynote presentation entitled “The uncertainty monster at the climate science-policy interface.” The talk is on youtube. My talk was interrupted by an irate audience member (who is an AR5 author).

The ‘irate audience member’ was Bjorn Stevens.  He STRENUOUSLY objected to the following two slides, which my words included ‘many scientists':


Slide2I will rewatch this when I have time (just about to leave for the airport again).  So Stevens is not an IPCC/UNFCCC ideologue, but he seems in denial that some of his colleagues are.

P.S.  I am giving a new uncertainty monster presentation tomorrow (to a group of economists), this will be the subject of tomorrow’s post

JC reflections

Kudos to Bjorn Stevens for working on these important and challenging problems and for understanding that it is not his job to convince the public that they need to reduce fossil fuel emissions.

The ‘consensus’ disease, and the naive belief of too many scientists that we need to speak ‘consensus’ to power, is slowing down scientific progress.  Lennart Benngtson’s recent saga is another case in point (see previous blog post).

JC warning to Bjorn Stevens:  In my quest to objectively evaluate the IPCC’s attribution argument and stand up for research integrity post Climategate,  I was not ‘pulled’ away from the establishment community by ‘deniers'; rather I was ‘pushed’ away by scientists who were IPCC ideologues and advocates.  Watch out.



Filed under: Communication, Sensitivity & feedbacks
23 Apr 13:04

Churchill 1899 – Islam Will Take Over After Christianity And Science Are Destroyed

by stevengoddard
Everything is going exactly to plan. Progressives are working doubletime, to destroy both science and Christianity How dreadful are the curses which Mohammedanism lays on its votaries! Besides the fanatical frenzy, which is as dangerous in a man as hydrophobia in … Continue reading →
23 Apr 15:52

It Has Nothing To Do With CO2

by stevengoddard
President Obama just agreed to let China increase their CO2 emissions until the year 2030, which will put them at 500% of US levels. 2014 Budget v1.0 If whatever he is doing was based on concern about CO2 and climate, … Continue reading →
22 Apr 17:23

Ep. 386 What Fascism Is, and Why It Isn’t Just a Name for Everything People May Oppose

by Tom Woods

Terms like fascist and fascism get thrown around indiscriminately by people who know how toxic they are and who want to demonize their opponents. But almost nothing and no one accused of fascism these days has the slightest connection to genuine fascism, and the result is confusion. What was fascism really all about? Paul Gottfried joins us for a lesson in intellectual history.

About the Guest

Paul Gottfried is professor emeritus of humanities at Elizabethtown College and a Guggenheim recipient.

Essay Discussed

Who Isn’t Fascist?” by Paul Gottfried

Book Mentioned

Leftism: From De Sade and Marx to Hitler and Marcuse, by Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn

Guest’s Website

Selected Books by the Guest

Multiculturalism and the Politics of Guilt: Toward a Secular Theocracy
Conservatism in America: Making Sense of the American Right
The Strange Death of Marxism: The European Left in the New Millennium
After Liberalism: Mass Democracy in the Managerial State
Leo Strauss and the Conservative Movement in America

Previous Appearance

Ep. 87 World War I: Sleepwalk to Suicide (Paul Gottfried)

Special Offers

Click here to get your copy of my free eBook: 14 Hard Questions for Libertarians — Answered!

Learn the history and economics they didn’t teach you, from professors you can trust and in courses you can listen to anywhere, at my at Take 30% off a year’s subscription with coupon code SHOW (all caps)!

Download Audio
23 Apr 16:32

04/22/15 PHD comic: 'How To Write An E-mail To Your Instructor Or Teaching Assistant'

Piled Higher & Deeper by Jorge Cham
Click on the title below to read the comic
title: "How To Write An E-mail To Your Instructor Or Teaching Assistant" - originally published 4/22/2015

For the latest news in PHD Comics, CLICK HERE!

21 Apr 12:49

The Benevolent State Fantasy

by Matt Zwolinski

[The following is a guest post by David S. D’Amato. David is an attorney with an LL.M. in global law and technology. He is a columnist at the Cato Institute’s, a frequent contributor at the Future of Freedom Foundation, and holds the Benjamin R. Tucker chair at the Center for a Stateless Society. His writing has also appeared at the Institute of Economic Affairs, the Centre for Policy Studies, and the Ludwig von Mises Institute, among others. He is on Twitter at @dsdamato.]

In an article at Jacobin magazine, Nicole Aschoff takes on what she calls “The Free-Market Fantasy,” the idea that markets are a naturally self-regulating system of creativity and peaceful cooperation. Throughout Aschoff’s deeply confused article, it is unclear what exactly it is that she’s condemning. She begins with a discussion of Whole Foods CEO John Mackey, for whom free markets are “unquestionably the greatest system for innovation and social cooperation that has ever existed.” After acknowledging the distinction Mackey draws between free markets and crony capitalism, Aschoff quickly gets to work explaining that “the free-market historical narrative lacks empirical weight.” The United States, she argues, “demonstrates the political nature of markets,” slave labor and “a state-sponsored, genocidal land grab” paving the way for capitalist industrial development.

As Aschoff correctly observes, citing Karl Polanyi, “capitalist markets are a product of state engineering, not nature.” And indeed, many free market libertarians are saying exactly the same thing about the historical relationship between capitalist firms and the state as leftist anti-capitalists such as Aschoff and Polanyi. First, the article argues that the practical results free markets yield are not those promised by libertarians. Then we hear that free markets are not really free at all, and that therefore free market ideology is a myth, historical markets having always relied on state intervention.

Progressives and state socialists like Aschoff arraign market libertarians for ignoring the empirical facts of global capitalist markets while they exhibit what seems a willful ignorance of historical states, ascribing to the state the qualities of a celestial guardian. When did the state become the great protector of the poor and working classes rather than the mechanism of ruling class conquest, plunder, and control?

Free marketers and state socialists end up talking past each other because we simply cannot agree on the terms of the debate, on the basic historical and theoretical assumptions that we take into the conversation. They don’t believe our claim that true free markets (which they correctly complain have never existed) would yield equitable results for the poor and underprivileged, and we don’t believe theirs that the state can be remade into a quasi-charity serving the greater good. They see the state as “the things we do together,” a means of social cooperation and community, while we think such a description much more accurately describes market relationships.

Indeed, at one time, free market libertarians like Benjamin Tucker argued convincingly that unbridled, unregulated competition was the very force necessary to accomplish the underlying goal of the socialist movement — that labor be paid with its full product. And while there aren’t many remaining in free market circles who believe with Tucker that open competition would fully erase rent, interest, and profit from economic life, we nevertheless have no reason to doubt his claims about the ultimate role of the state in the economy.

After emphasizing the role that the state has played in the creation of global capitalism — which rightly hints at the symbiotic mutual-dependence linking capital and the state — Aschoff begins to lament the weakness of present-day states and the comparative strength of transnational corporations. Right after she notes the historical interdependence of the two, Aschoff confusedly falls into the mistake of thinking of the state as a counterpoise to the power of big business instead of its facilitator.

Such facile critiques of free market libertarianism simply ignore the immutable fact that all human beings, regardless of whether they work in a private company or a government body, are capable of acting out of self-interest. This is important because it suggests that government bodies, our supposed protectors from evil corporations, may also have incentives to act against the common good, however defined and assuming that we consider it an important criterion in comparing different political programs.

We are thus left to wonder how state socialists like Aschoff are able to rationalize what I will call their “benevolent state fantasy” (as against the “free-market fantasy” that they deride). It ought to trouble the proponents of the benevolent state fantasy that in order to accept their view of the state as a protector of the natural environment and a curb on the power of avaricious corporations, we must insulate the individuals that constitute the state from the presumptions we make about the individual agents of private corporations. We aren’t offered an explanation of how or why government bureaucracies will succeed where private companies fail, of what makes government accountable, socially responsible, and above self-serving action.

The crazy, right-wing, fringe idea libertarians have is that no one ought to have the authority to make decisions for anyone but herself, that we should limit the use of coercive physical force to self-defense and the legitimate defense of others. That’s all. In and of itself, then, libertarianism has nothing at all to do with letting multinational corporations run roughshod over workers and the environment; it likewise has nothing to do with some imagined philosophy of base, uncaring greed based on lazy and simplistic caricatures of Ayn Rand from dutiful socialists and progressives who would never deign to read her. It is and always has been a philosophy that takes seriously the legitimate autonomy and prerogatives of every individual.

In the words of Foundation for Economic Education founder Leonard E. Read, libertarianism permits “anything that’s peaceful.” Libertarians see every individual as a self-ruler within her own sphere of autonomy, the boundaries of which extend over her life and her justly acquired property. We must add that caveat — “justly acquired” — because the ideological opponents of libertarianism seem to have concluded that it represents a new kind of global feudalism under which rule of the nation state is increasingly replaced by that of the sovereign corporation, whose uncontested, private control over everything of value, from land and natural resources to ideas and technology, gives it just as much power as the state over the daily life of the individual, if not more.


In fact, many libertarians readily acknowledge that, under libertarian principles, the present-day distribution of wealth and property is indefensible. But the mistake of socialists who advocate more state control over economic life is to blame freedom and competition, which they openly concede have never actually obtained. Perhaps many libertarians would share the socialist view on the need for more government economic regulation and intervention if we believed with them (a) that market competition is inherently and unavoidably unfair and coercive, and (b) that it is possible to harness state coercion as a force for good despite its history of elite manipulation, self-serving, and graft. In the debate between libertarians and socialists, it is important to get underneath ambiguous terms and phrase (of which “free market” is, of course, an example) to the substantive positions at issue.


Those who mistake state power and social power, as Aschoff does in her final paragraph, should consider the state’s history of attacks on social power, community, and voluntary cooperation. Here, James C. Scott’s work on anarchism and decentralism is particularly relevant and incisive. The powerful state that socialists like Aschoff want, as opposed to the “toothless” states we supposedly have today, would itself be no more than a great monopolist, one giant capitalist firm with no interest but to serve a comparatively few leaders at the top of the pyramid, the greater good be damned. Such a socialist state would most assuredly still serve “the needs of capital,” and now nothing (except for Aschoff’s vague “democratic forces”) could stop it from depleting natural resources and destroying the earth ever more rapidly than today’s oligopoly firms. One hopes that states someday become quite as toothless as Jacobin magazine believes they are today.

23 Apr 15:31

Pennsylvania Bill to Approve Medical Marijuana, Effectively Nullify Federal Prohibition, Passes Senate Committee 10-0

by Shane Trejo

HARRISBURG, Pa. (Apr. 23, 2015) – This week, a Pennsylvania state Senate committee unanimously passed a bill that would legalize marijuana for specific medical purposes, effectively nullifying in practice the federal prohibition on the same. The vote was 10-0.

Introduced by Sen. Mike Folmer (R-Lebanon) with 27 bipartisan co-sponsors, Senate Bill 3 (SB3) would set up a program to distribute medical marijuana to certain eligible patients, something federal law considers illegal. The bill also contains a reciprocity provision that would allow medical marijuana patients from other states to qualify under the Pennsylvania program.

The bill passed through the House State Government Committee unanimously with an 10-0 vote on April 21. It must now pass through the House Appropriations Committee before it can receive a vote in the full state Senate.

SB3 would create a State Board of Medical Cannabis Licensing program that would allow the growing and dispensing of medical marijuana by licensed individuals for use by qualifying patients. The board would be able to license up to 65 medical marijuana processors.

Qualifying conditions include cancer, epilepsy and seizures, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, cachexia/wasting syndrome, Parkinson’s disease, traumatic brain injury and postconcussion syndrome, multiple sclerosis, spinocerebellara Ataxia (SCA), posttraumatic stress disorder, severe fibromyalgia, HIV/AIDS, and glaucoma.


The federal government currently lists marijuana as a Schedule I narcotic and attempts to prohibit it for any purpose. Tenth Amendment Center national communications director Mike Maharrey says this clearly violates the Constitution.

“The Constitution delegates no power to the federal government to prohibit marijuana in the states. This power remains with the state governments and the people. Doubt me? Then ask yourself why it required a constitutional amendment to prohibit alcohol. There is no fundamental difference,” Maharrey said.

As more states take marijuana policy into their own hands, defying the federal prohibition, the federal government has become increasingly incapable of enforcing its unconstitutional prohibition. They simply lack the resources to stop the tidal wave. For those concerned about the health care and personal choices of people living in Pennsylvania, this cannot come too soon.

Medical marijuana is an incredibly important issue pertaining to nullification and states’ rights. Because it is so overwhelmingly popular, medical marijuana can act as a metaphorical ‘gateway drug’ to the idea of state and local resistance to onerous federal laws. With this issue, it is possible to show the residents of your state that local control better serves the needs of the people than the top-down federal approach that has failed for so many decades.

Although it draws a legal distinction between recreational and medical marijuana, SB3 marks an enormous step in the right direction for both medical marijuana supporters and advocates of decentralized government in the state of Pennsylvania. It signals that the public is ready to throw off the shackles of ‘federal supremacy’ and take lawmaking into their own hands.

For Pennsylvania: Take steps to support this important bill at THIS LINK

For other states: Take the steps to get a similar bill passed in your state at THIS LINK.

21 Apr 18:40

Glenn Beck Says the Events He Has Warned About for Years Have Begun: ‘The Time Is Here’

by Erica Ritz

Maybe Christians, Jews, and moderate Muslims should fund a private security force to protect people in danger zones. Possibly with support from letters of Marque and Reprisal from the US and other world governments.

Glenn Beck on Tuesday said the persecution of Jews and Christians in the Middle East, which he has spent years warning his audience about, has begun.

“The time is here. It is now here,” Beck said on his radio program. “We’ve been talking about this for five, ten years, that this will come and persecution will come, the persecution of the Jews and persecution of the Christians. … The promise I made to myself was, ‘OK, I’ll do something about it. I will stand. I will hide those people. I will stand with those people.’”

But Beck said that “we won’t even as a society look” at the horrors perpetrated by the Islamic State. He said he has watched the most recent video of Christians being executed in Libya multiple times.

Glenn Beck speaks on his radio program March 17, 2015. (Photo: TheBlaze TV)

Glenn Beck speaks on his radio program March 17, 2015. (Photo: TheBlaze TV)

“I watched it once for me. That was enough. Then I watched it with my oldest daughter. And I will watch it with my younger children when they are old enough,” Beck said. “It is important that they see that. … I also brought them to Poland to see it. When my younger kids get old enough, I’ll bring them to Auschwitz so they can see it. It’s important that they see it and it settles in them. ‘OK, I will fight. I will stand. If this time comes again, I will stand again.’”

Beck noted that there are veterans who are in the Middle East helping to protect people from the Islamic State, and there are churches who are sending aid to those in need.

“I think we can [get involved],” Beck said. “I think you can call your congressman. I think we can change our Twitter image to ‘#IAmCoptic.’ You know, little things we can do that we’re not doing. And I’m not saying I’m perfect. I’m not doing all these things. … But we have to. We have to. Because what I’ve been warning is coming is here now. It is here.”

Complimentary Clip from TheBlaze TV

The full episode of The Glenn Beck Program, along with many other live-streaming shows and thousands of hours of on-demand content, is available on just about any digital device. Click here to watch every Glenn Beck episode from the past 30 days for just $1!

Read more stories from TheBlaze

‘Why Does No One Care?’: Beck Asks if This Is Why Americans Aren’t Doing More for Persecuted Christians in the Middle East

‘Hypocrisy Much?’: See the ‘Ironic’ Earth Day Tweet Bill Nye Is Being Heavily Criticized for Online

Glenn Beck Says the Events He Has Warned About for Years Have Begun: ‘The Time Is Here’

‘I’ve Never Seen Anything So Abhorrent in My Life’: Dana Perino Names Most ‘Poisonous Figure’ in D.C.

‘Spill All of Their Blood…Kill Them’: How a Suburban American Girl Hatched an Elaborate Plan to Flee Her Family and Join the Islamic State

21 Apr 19:00

‘Cop Watcher’ Visibly Shocked by Officer’s Actions — and You Might’ve Never Seen It if Another Camera Wasn’t Rolling Across Street

by Jason Howerton

A law enforcement officer with the U.S. Marshals was caught on video snatching an apparent recording device from an onlooker’s hands, throwing it on the ground and violently kicking it away as officers responded to a report of a “biker gang meeting” on Sunday in South Gate, California.

Screengrab via YouTube

Screengrab via YouTube

Federal officials confirmed to NBC Los Angeles that they are investigating the 53-second video of the incident.

Law enforcement officers reportedly arrested six people at the site of the reported biker gang meeting.

However, it wasn’t immediately clear if the woman, described as a “cop watcher” in the YouTube video’s title, was connected to any of the individuals arrested or if there were more words exchanged before things got out of hand.

Watch the video below (Warning: Some strong language)

A spokesman with the U.S. Marshals also confirmed on Tuesday that the video is “being reviewed.”

Messages left with the woman’s supposed attorney were not immediately returned.

Read more stories from TheBlaze

‘Hypocrisy Much?’: See the ‘Ironic’ Earth Day Tweet Bill Nye Is Being Heavily Criticized for Online

Glenn Beck Says the Events He Has Warned About for Years Have Begun: ‘The Time Is Here’

‘I’ve Never Seen Anything So Abhorrent in My Life’: Dana Perino Names Most ‘Poisonous Figure’ in D.C.

‘Spill All of Their Blood…Kill Them’: How a Suburban American Girl Hatched an Elaborate Plan to Flee Her Family and Join the Islamic State

D.C. Attorney General Reports Photo of Reps. Trey Gowdy, Ken Buck to Police for ‘Further Investigation’

22 Apr 01:16

‘I’ve Never Seen Anything So Abhorrent in My Life’: Dana Perino Names Most ‘Poisonous Figure’ in D.C.

by Oliver Darcy

Wow. I think it's out of character for her to make such strong comments.

Fox News host Dana Perino unloaded on Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) Tuesday, calling him a “destructive entity” in Washington, D.C.

Perino, who served as press secretary for President George W. Bush, was reacting to a jab Reid took at her former boss Monday.

“He’s an absolutely poisonous figure in Washington, D.C. He’s been a disaster for this country,” Perino told host Hugh Hewitt.

“I think a lot of the dysfunction in Washington can be traced directly to his doorstep,” she continued. “I think it is very good for the country, for the world, and especially for the Democrats that Harry Reid is retiring. I’ve never seen anything so abhorrent in my life as Harry Reid.”

“I’ve never seen anything so abhorrent in my life as Harry Reid.”

“And he is an equal opportunity basher, right? He goes after everybody,” Perino added. “And I think it is so frankly disgusting, and I’m a pretty level-headed person. But that person, Harry Reid, has been the most destructive entity in Washington when it comes to stability. By far.”

Follow Oliver Darcy (@oliverdarcy) on Twitter

Read more stories from TheBlaze

‘Hypocrisy Much?’: See the ‘Ironic’ Earth Day Tweet Bill Nye Is Being Heavily Criticized for Online

Glenn Beck Says the Events He Has Warned About for Years Have Begun: ‘The Time Is Here’

‘I’ve Never Seen Anything So Abhorrent in My Life’: Dana Perino Names Most ‘Poisonous Figure’ in D.C.

Pregnant Woman Robbed at Gunpoint While Working Shift at Fast Food Restaurant Can’t Believe She Got Fired After Company Made Odd Request (UPDATED)

‘Spill All of Their Blood…Kill Them’: How a Suburban American Girl Hatched an Elaborate Plan to Flee Her Family and Join the Islamic State

21 Apr 14:16

Can the President Kill Americans?

by Judge Andrew Napolitano

Can the president kill you? The short answer is: Yes, but not legally. Yet, President Obama has established a secret process that involves officials from the Departments of Justice and Defense, the CIA, and the White House senior staff whereby candidates are proposed for execution, and the collective wisdom of the officials then recommends execution to the president, who then accepts or rejects the recommendation.

If the recommendation is to kill and the president rejects the recommendation, the CIA is directed to arrest the person. If the president accepts the recommendation to kill, then death is ordered. This is not unlike the procedure used in the reign of the monstrous British King Henry VIII, except that the king himself delegated the final say to his chancellor so that he could publicly disavow participation in the government murders.

Obama does not disavow them; he defends them. But the Constitution he swore to uphold makes clear that whenever the government wants the life, liberty or property of anyone, it must follow due process. Stated differently, it must either sue the person for his property or prosecute him for his life or liberty, and the law that forms the basis for the lawsuit or the prosecution must have existed before the person did whatever the government says he did that resulted in its pursuit of him. The whole reason for the requirement of due process was to prevent what Henry VIII did and Obama is doing from ever happening here.

It is happening here.

In 2011, Obama ordered the CIA to murder Anwar al-Awlaki, an American born in New Mexico. When the CIA’s drones murdered Awlaki, he was within eyesight in Yemen of about 12 Yemeni intelligence agents and four CIA agents, all of whom collectively could have arrested him. He was not engaged in any unlawful behavior. He was unarmed and sitting at an outdoor cafe with a friend and his teenage son and the son’s friend. All four — Americans all — were murdered by the drones dispatched from Virginia.

When word of this got out, the president came under heavy criticism. He responded by claiming he had the lawful authority to kill any dangerous person whose arrest was impractical. He also claimed he had a legal opinion from Attorney General Eric Holder that justified the killings. He then dispatched Holder to explain the lawful basis for the killings at a speech at Northwestern Law School.

The speech produced even more criticism and, eventually, the revelation of a portion of the legal opinion.

The legal opinion is hogwash. It relies on cases of hot pursuit in which police may lawfully use deadly force to stop an armed and dangerous person who is an imminent danger of causing deadly harm to someone else — an armed robber fleeing a bank he has just robbed and shooting at his pursuers may of course be shot at lawfully by the police. In the Awlaki case, the government had not even alleged that he committed a crime. Without that allegation, those 16 intelligence agents who were following him for the final 48 hours of his life could not have lawfully arrested him. The government concedes this; so it decided to kill him.

All this resurfaced last week in a Brooklyn federal courtroom where another American, Mohanad Mahmoud al-Farekh, born in Texas, was charged with providing material assistance to a terrorist organization while he was in Pakistan. It was revealed that the Department of Defense nominated Farekh for execution, the CIA seconded the nomination (you cannot make this stuff up), and the president vetoed it because he did not want to offend the Pakistanis, over whose land he has dispatched more than 3,000 drones, a practice he promised to stop.

The president did not decline to order the murder of Farekh because it was morally wrong or unconstitutional or a violation of federal law, but because he feared it would upset officials in a foreign government. We also learned last week that the House and Senate committees on intelligence — the members of which receive classified briefings that they cannot share with their constituents or colleagues — demanded Farekh’s execution, but the president refused.

What a sad, sorry, unconstitutional state of affairs this Obama presidency and its enablers in Congress have brought us. Like Awlaki, Farekh was not engaged in an act of violence when intelligence agents pursued him. Why did one of these pursuits result in due process and the other in murder? Because of the political calculations of the president. That is not the rule of law. That is a gross violation of basic American values.

While all this has been going on, the president has negotiated a deal with Iran that has many in Congress up in arms. They think he gave away the store, and they are in the process of enacting legislation over his likely veto that would prohibit him from entering into agreements on nuclear weapons without their consent. Have you heard any of these self-proclaimed congressional patriots offer legislation to prohibit the president from murdering Americans? Who will be nominated for execution next?

When the president acts like a king and Congress looks the other way, it is as culpable as he is.



21 Apr 17:03

Federal Judge Attacks Pro-Police 'Orthodoxy' in 4th Amendment Case

by Damon Root

h/t Jts5665

Federal Judge Janice Rogers Brown, a George W. Bush appointee frequently criticized by liberals for her “libertarian” jurisprudence, filed a blistering opinion today challenging the “prevailing orthodoxy” in Fourth Amendment cases which, she said, permit the police to conduct “a rolling roadblock that sweeps citizens up at random and subjects them to undesired police interactions culminating in a search of their persons and effects.”

At issue in Judge Brown’s concurrence today in the case of United States v. Gross was a 2013 arrest by Washington, D.C.’s Gun Recovery Unit. In February 2013 four officers from that unit were driving around on “gun patrol” when they spotted Will Gross, followed him, and finally approached him. One of the officers shined his flashlight on Gross and demanded that Gross show the officers his waistband. Another officer asked Gross to submit to a search. Gross fled. When the police apprehended him, Gross had a handgun in his possession.

At trial, Gross moved to have the gun suppressed from evidence because its discovery was the result of an illegal seizure by the police. But the federal district court disagreed, arguing that the initial police encounter with Gross did not qualify as a seizure under the Fourth Amendment because it was a “consented” interaction between citizen and state. Today, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit upheld that judgment. Judge Brown concurred in that decision, though, as she explained in her opinion, it was only because binding precedent required her to hold her nose and do so:

In its efforts to ferret out illegal firearms the District has implemented a “rolling roadblock.” Officers randomly trawl high crime neighborhoods asking occupants who fit a certain statistical profile—mostly males in their late teens to early forties—if they possess contraband. Despite lacking any semblance of particularized suspicion when the initial contact is made, the police subject these individuals to intrusive searches unless they can prove their innocence. Our case law considers such a policy consistent with the Fourth Amendment. I continue to think this is error. Our jurisprudence perpetuates a fiction of voluntary consent where none exists. [Citations omitted.]

According to Judge Brown, under this dismal case law, the police have free rein to “engage with members of the public en masse and at random to fabricate articulable suspicions for virtually every citizen officers encounter on patrol.”

What can be done? Judge Brown offered this advice to those citizens unfortunate enough to bear the brunt of such sweeping law enforcement tactics:

Persons questioned by the District’s Gun Recovery Unit patrols may reasonably be at a loss as to how to react to these contacts. Is there a means to react to such nominally voluntary encounters that might preserve their constitutional prerogatives? I offer this advice: speak to officers firmly, politely, respectfully. Tell them, “I do not wish to have an encounter with the police right now. Am I free to leave?” If the answer is “no,” then coercion will cease to masquerade as consent. Our courts will be forced, at last, to directly grapple with the reality of the District’s policy of routinized and involuntary seizures.

The D.C. Circuit’s opinion in United States v. Gross is available here.

21 Apr 16:46

Cops Seizes Cell Phone & Tries to Destroy It

by Tim Lynch

From South Gate, California:

Cops Seizes Cell Phone & Tries to Destroy It is a post from

21 Apr 09:17

The Iris Hypothesis from the archives

by Bishop Hill

Today, most mainstream researchers consider Dr. Lindzen’s theory discredited.

Justin Gillis in the New York Times

...the basis of Lindzen’s argument, which itself is the basis of all remaining relatively credible climate contrarianism, is entirely false...

Dana Nuccitelli

You have people who keep propping [the discredited theory] up,...Lindzen may still hold to it, but no one would still be listening to him. He wouldn't be given a platform.

Prof Joel Norris of Scripps

Refuted by four peer-reviewed studies within a year of the publication of Lindzen's hypothesis.

Nuccitelli again


21 Apr 07:16

Iris hypothesis bridges model-observation gap

by Bishop Hill

Some months ago I picked up wind of a new paper that was going to provide some support for Richard Lindzen's Iris Hypothesis - the idea that in a warming planet there would be reduced levels of cirrus cloud, which would allow the extra heat to escape from Earth.

The paper in question seems to be this one, published in Nature Geoscience. The authors are Bjorn Stevens and Thorsten Mauritzen, the former the author of a much-discussed paper on aerosols and the latter best known for his paper on the subject of GCM tuning.

Here's the abstract:

Missing iris effect as a possible cause of muted hydrological change and high climate sensitivity in models

Equilibrium climate sensitivity to a doubling of CO2 falls between 2.0 and 4.6 K in current climate models, and they suggest a weak increase in global mean precipitation. Inferences from the observational record, however, place climate sensitivity near the lower end of this range and indicate that models underestimate some of the changes in the hydrological cycle. These discrepancies raise the possibility that important feedbacks are missing from the models. A controversial hypothesis suggests that the dry and clear regions of the tropical atmosphere expand in a warming climate and thereby allow more infrared radiation to escape to space. This so-called iris effect could constitute a negative feedback that is not included in climate models. We find that inclusion of such an effect in a climate model moves the simulated responses of both temperature and the hydrological cycle to rising atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations closer to observations. Alternative suggestions for shortcomings of models — such as aerosol cooling, volcanic eruptions or insufficient ocean heat uptake — may explain a slow observed transient warming relative to models, but not the observed enhancement of the hydrological cycle. We propose that, if precipitating convective clouds are more likely to cluster into larger clouds as temperatures rise, this process could constitute a plausible physical mechanism for an iris effect.

21 Apr 16:36

Nobody expects the Climate Inquisition

by Anthony Watts
The Whitehouse-White House inquisition Sen. Whitehouse says reaction to intimidation is “overheated” – but he ignores Tides Foundation abuses Guest essay by Paul Driessen Senator Sheldon Whitehouse recently had a Huff-Po tantrum. The Rhode Island Democrat was miffed that people criticized him and equally liberal Senate colleagues Barbara Boxer (CA) and Ed Markey (MA) for…
20 Apr 22:35

Bold, Persistent Experimentation

by Don Boudreaux
(Don Boudreaux)

In a speech in May 1932 presidential candidate Franklin D. Roosevelt famously said the following:

The country needs and, unless I mistake its temper, the country demands bold, persistent experimentation.  It is common sense to take a method and try it: If it fails, admit it frankly and try another. But above all, try something.

This sentiment is roundly applauded.  Perhaps surprisingly, I, too, applaud it – and loudly so.  What I don’t applaud is FDR’s assumption that government is the appropriate experimenter.  Bold, persistent experimentation is precisely what is constantly taking place in private-property, decentralized markets.  In such markets, millions of people are free to (and do) join in the experiments.  And each person – whether as entrepreneur, investor, worker, or consumer – does so with his or her own funds at stake.  No one experiments with funds seized from others, and no one has the privilege of forcibly preventing others from experimenting to compete for consumers’ dollars (or pounds, or pesos, or yen, or yuan, or whatever is the currency).

Even a government that does experiment boldly and persistently does so, when it intervenes into private economic affairs, by preventing or obstructing untold numbers of private experiments.  Such private experiments don’t get headlines; almost none of them are announced with fanfare; most take place completely under the radar of 99.99 percent of the population – including that of the population of people who will benefit from the successful experiments.

So if you really like bold, persistent experimentation – and you should – you ought to reject government intervention into economic affairs.  Here’s how I put the matter in March 2006:

“‘Let the market handle it! Let the market handle it!’ Don’t you tire of muttering this simplistic formula?” So ended an e-mail that I received from a reader.

It’s true that all of us sometimes are tempted to avoid thinking hard about complex issues and, instead, to fall back lazily upon simplistic mantras. We should guard against this weakness, in ourselves and in others.

At the same time, though, we shouldn’t confuse consistency with simplicity. The two are different. Just because I instruct my eight-year-old son to be always truthful does not mean that I’m a simpleton offering simplistic advice; it means, instead, that truthfulness is a virtue that should be pursued consistently — even if in a handful of instances my son might be made better off by telling a lie.

I admit that my proposed solution for many public-policy problems is to say “Let the market handle it.” But this response is neither naive nor lazy. It’s realistic. It reflects my understanding that almost any problem you name — rebuilding the Katrina-ravaged Gulf Coast, providing excellent education for children, reducing traffic congestion on highways — is most likely to be dealt with efficiently, fairly and effectively by the market rather than by government.

Saying “Let the market handle it” is to reject a one-size-fits-all, centralized rule of experts. It is to endorse an unfathomably complex arrangement for dealing with the issue at hand. Recommending the market over government intervention is to recognize that neither he who recommends the market nor anyone else possesses sufficient information and knowledge to determine, or even to foresee, what particular methods are best for dealing with the problem.

To recommend the market, in fact, is to recommend letting millions of creative people, each with different perspectives and different bits of knowledge and insights, each voluntarily contribute his own ideas and efforts toward dealing with the problem. It is to recommend not a single solution but, instead, a decentralized process that calls forth many competing experiments and, then, discovers the solutions that work best under the circumstances.

To recommend the market is to understand, or at least to cooperate with, the wisdom of James Buchanan’s important insight that “order is defined in the process of its emergence.”  It is to understand, at some level, Vernon Smith’s awareness that “ecological rationality” is greater than individual or “constructivist” rationality.

This process is flexible and it encourages creativity. It also denies to anyone the power to unilaterally impose his own vision on others.

In brief, to advise “Let the market handle it” is a shorthand way of saying, “I have no simplistic plan for dealing with this problem; indeed, I reject all simplistic plans. Only a competitive, decentralized institution interlaced with dependable feedback loops — the market — can be relied upon to discover and implement a sufficiently detailed way to handle the problem in question.”

None of this is to say that getting the government out of the way is sufficient to create peace and prosperity. Markets require a rule of law to ensure that, among other blessings, property rights are secure and exchangeable. At their best, governments can help to protect our rights. Markets also require a culture in which commerce flourishes.

Unfortunately, no recipe exists to create the legal institutions and commercial culture required by capitalism. If these prerequisites are absent, there can be no market to handle any problem. So saying “Let the market handle it” is not the same as saying “All will be just dandy if only the government gets out of the way.”

But when these prerequisite institutions are mostly in place, as they are in the United States and other developed countries, markets are amazingly creative and reliable. Calling on markets to deal with problems is then the wisest course.

Alas, though, foolishness frequently triumphs over wisdom. People too often suppose that large social problems can be solved only by deciding ahead of time which particular group of people and procedures hold the key to the solution.

While declaring “Let the government handle it” comes across as a solution, it’s no such thing. Instead, it is merely a sign of a simple and baseless faith — a simple and baseless faith that people invested with power will not abuse that power; that political appointees possess or will find better answers than will millions of people pursuing solutions in their own ways, and staking their own resources and reputations on their efforts; that only those ‘solutions’ that are spelled out in statutes and regulations and that have officials paid to implement them are true solutions.

So yes, show me a problem and I’ll likely respond “Let the market handle it.” I’ll respond this way because I know that not only is my own meager knowledge and effort never up to the task of solving big problems but that not even the Einsteins or Krugmans or Bushes amongst us can know the best solution to any social problem.

Solutions to complex social problems require as many creative minds as possible — and this is precisely what the market delivers.

20 Apr 17:20

Video of the day: Why we should love and celebrate fossil fuels on Earth Day

by Mark Perry

Every year on Earth Day we learn how bad humanity’s economic development is for the health of the planet, but maybe that is the wrong message. Maybe we should instead reflect on how human progress, especially through the use of fossil fuels, has actually made our environment cleaner, greener and healthier. Alex Epstein of the Center for Industrial Progress explains in the video above why we should celebrate fossil fuels on Earth Day.

The post Video of the day: Why we should love and celebrate fossil fuels on Earth Day appeared first on AEI.

20 Apr 21:51

Woman Is Fined for Feeding Homeless. When She Shows Up to Do It Again, She Discovers She Isn’t Alone

by Reid Mene

Joan Cheever, a food truck owner from San Antonio, Texas has made it clear she will not be paying the $2,000 fine she was given while attempting to feed the homeless for failing to transport food in a permitted vehicle.

Cheever has been delivering food to the homeless with her mobile Chow Train food service for over a decade, but it wasn’t until this past Tuesday, April 7, that she ran into a problem.

“I was surprised, because I had been doing it so long,”

“I said in a very respectful tone … ‘Well, you know officer, by you giving me this ticket you have violated two federal laws, a federal judge’s order in Dallas [based on a similar case] and the Texas Religious Freedom Restoration Act, so my four laws, I think, trump your one little city ordinance.”

Today’s mail. I guess the letter of apology from The City Of San Antonio isn’t coming. Oh well.

Posted by The Chow Train on Saturday, April 18, 2015

Despite the fine, Cheever quickly found that she is not alone in her attempt to fight for what she believes in.

Cheever went back to the place where she was arrested just a week later with intentions to feed the poor, only to come across an amazing surprise.

“[There was a] park filled with at least 100 people holding candles and signs, and the news channels were all there, and they were singing ‘Amazing Grace’ or something,”

“And I was just looking over my shoulder, and I thought, ‘These guys aren’t coming back.’”

Meanwhile, Cheever has launched a fundraising campaign to support the Chow Train.

Cheever is expected to show up in court on June 23rd and has no plans to pay the fine, but she does plan on telling the court that their ruling has been a violation of her religious liberty.

In an interview with The Church BoysCheever said:

“I would tell them there is nothing in the law or in their hearts that can stop a Good Samaritan from helping someone who needs help — that we take care of each other as a community, and sometimes people fall down and we have to help them up.”

Cheever also stated that if their decision is not repealed, she is prepared to ask for a jury trial on the basis that her civil liberties were infringed upon.

The post Woman Is Fined for Feeding Homeless. When She Shows Up to Do It Again, She Discovers She Isn’t Alone appeared first on Independent Journal Review.

20 Apr 14:07

To be creative, work alone

by Daniel Lemire

In his excellent book How to Fly a Horse, Ashton makes a case for working alone. He quotes Apple’s co-founder and technical genius Steven Wozniak:

Work alone. You’re going to be best able to design revolutionary products and features if you’re working on your own. Not on a committee. Not on a team.

This should be qualified: Wozniak did not work alone. What he means is that he designed his work alone.

Researchers such as Brooks have long advocated that design is a lonely task.

The idea that building up ideas is best done alone or in tiny teams flies in the face of many of our managerial practices:

  • companies like Google and Facebook leave little private space to their employees;
  • most research funding bodies specifically encourage collaboration… having entire funding programs to encourage collaboration.

Yet we know that researchers in smaller laboratories are more productive (Carayol and Matt, 2006). There is also no evidence that collaboration with outside groups improves productivity (Abramo et al., 2009).

I believe that despite all of the evidence, our intuition about when good and innovative work happens is all wrong. If you cannot go for one hour in a quiet room to think, you are just responding. Your brain is not deeply engaged.

Yet we think too often that it is in this multitasking mode, where we have many things on our minds, solving twelve problems at a time, that we are being creative.

Time alone to think is often viewed as egotistical. I would argue that it is even slightly shameful. Who are you to request time alone in a private office?

I think we have evolved a negative view of loneliness for good reasons. For our ancestors, being alone was being dead.

Our brains are marvellous computers that have evolved for sophisticated relationships. We have complex interactions with a few people every day. Our livelihood depends on these interactions. I think you would be right to model human beings as nodes in a computing cluster. We are fundamentally geared to relate frequently and deeply with our tribe.

For sure, there are a few people who cut off all lines of communication… but far fewer than you may think. Look at tenured professors… look at how many, at least in the sciences, write their papers alone. Further, look at how many write papers alone on work that has little to do with what other contemporary researchers do… Researchers are amazing gregarious.

Most of my own work was done in small teams. I almost never work alone per se. I find it much more enjoyable to work with others. But my collaboration patterns are usually iterative:

  • Joe provides piece A;
  • I take time alone to study A, and after a time I provide B;
  • Joe takes B and valides it… maybe providing me with a revised version C…

Each iteration can take hours, days… But notice how the core of the work, the important pieces, are done by individuals working alone.

I have grown convinced over time that the reason we need to design alone is that it is difficult otherwise to reach a state of flow. In a good day, I might enter a state of flow for an hour or two. That is when I do my most important work. The rest of the day is spent answering emails, grading papers, reviewing articles, getting back to students, and so on.

To enter the state of flow, I need to ignore everything but the problem at hand. In a robust state of flow, I will forget to eat. It is difficult to enter this state with people around unless they are careful not to disturb you.

I like to compare a state of flow to a compute that shuts down all non-essential background processes. The entire CPU cache (i.e., your short term memory) becomes dedicated to one problem and one problem only.

In a normal state, my brain has to think about many things… though I am not aware of it, I constantly check the time, review my agenda for the day, and so on. In a state of flow, all these background tasks are terminated.

To do your best work, you need to focus. To get this result, you cannot be, at the same time, in constant interaction with others. So, effectively, you have to be alone… at least when you are doing your important work.

20 Apr 13:51

New York Times Clings to Discredited Legal Myths about Corporate Personhood

by Keara Vickers

Progressivism is essentially a religion based on a set of shared myths and boogeymen. True believers cling to those myths no matter how many times they are debunked by economists, legal historians, or other experts. These shared myths create a sense of belonging and moral superiority to others who don’t share those beliefs.

A classic example of this is the myth that the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United decision created the concept of corporate personhood, giving corporations constitutional rights for the first time. In reality, corporate constitutional rights were recognized by 1819, if not earlier. Yet, progressive op-ed writers repeat this myth even after its fallaciousness has been pointed out over and over again in their own newspapers, by experts who know more about law and history than they do.

20 Apr 16:20

Memo to our cousins at the American Physical Society: time to embrace reality

by Anthony Watts
  By Christopher Monckton of Brenchley » Several members of the American Physical Society have contacted me to ask how they should respond to a tokenistic “consultation” by the Society’s “Panel on Public Affairs” about its proposed amendment to its existing daft “Statement on Climate Change”. They invited me to submit this to WattsUpWithThat for…
20 Apr 07:27

Compact of the Republic

by Ben Lewis

It’s not often that we have the opportunity to review a book by a member of our Tenth Amendment Center family – Mike Maharrey’s Our Last Hope being a notable exception. But I am delighted to review a new book by TAC blogger, David Benner. The book, Compact of the Republic: The League of States and the Constitution, is a 309-page jaunt through the history of the Constitution and the American Union.

From the beginning, Benner’s narrative is unique in its scope. He opens the book with a bang as he spends the first chapter systematically dismantling the argument – created primarily by Supreme Court Chief Justice Joseph Story and retold countless times since – that the Constitution was adopted by a single, monolithic group of people (We the People) in order to institute a supreme, centralized power.

Instead Benner correctly asserts that “The United States government was not created by ‘one people,’ but instead by a conglomeration of several independent, sovereign states that delegated it certain, limited powers, retaining all others.”

In support of this contention, Benner raises an army of Founding Fathers from the dead and brings their words and opinions regarding the Constitution and the Union back to life. Benner writes that “Even the Federalist advocates of the Constitution did not make such claims (that the Constitution was adopted by “one people” to form a centralized government) when selling the Constitution to the states for ratification.”

As Benner observes, James Madison, a proponent of the Constitution in Virginia’s ratification convention, was challenged with this question and unequivocally denied that it was true. Madison responded, “Who are the parties to (the Constitution)? The people – but not the people as composing one great body; but people as composing thirteen sovereignties.”

Benner pays special attention to the state ratification conventions, stating that “if more emphasis was placed on the state ratifying conventions, honest scholars would conclude their studies with a much more solidified and accurate interpretation of the Constitution and how it was sold by its proponents.” In order to recapture this original, accurate interpretation, Benner offers an overview of each state’s ratification process.

What is uncovered through this investigation is the debate, in several important states, that raised and answered important questions about the nature of the Constitution – questions that today are still discussed as if the ratification debates had never occurred.

For instance, Benner uncovers a debate in North Carolina’s convention that specifically addressed the Supremacy Clause, which today’s centralizers love to cite as evidence that the Constitution created a national government with unlimited authority over the states. Our author, however, cites North Carolinian William Davie as saying that a federal law “can be supreme only in cases consistent with the powers specifically granted, and not in usurpations.”

Benner notes that this argument played out in several states, while also observing that the response by the Constitution’s salesmen was always the same. He writes,

“These Federalists constantly claimed that the apprehensions of the Constitution’s (opponents) were unsubstantiated. They did this by reiterating the fact that the government would only have the power it was ‘expressly’ delegated…As a result, (Thomas) Jefferson wrote that the Constitution should be understood ‘according to the true sense in which it was adopted by the states, that in which it was advocated by its friends…”

Due to this understanding of the Constitution, Benner writes that nullification is a natural outgrowth of this Jeffersonian interpretation of the Constitution – which is to say, the correct view of the original understanding of the compact of the states. Benner argues that “Today, if only the states actualized their own inherent powers…there would be no unnoticed action that would force them to ‘bow to the laws of the Union’ in response to unconstitutional laws.”

But this book is no mere exposition of the original Constitution – although that task is itself formidable and Benner tackles it with aplomb. The book is a useful resource for additional context around the constitution, as Benner introduces the reader to a wide range of constitutional and legal antecedents throughout English history, beginning with the Magna Carta and following through to the English Bill of Rights.

Along the way he touches on key historical elements in the development of English law, including the principle of British Federalism, the reign of Charles I, the English Civil Wars, the rise and fall of Oliver Cromwell and the Glorious Revolution of 1688.

Benner also pays attention to the generations that followed the founders, including some of the best proponents of Jeffersonianism throughout the 19th century. This list includes largely forgotten figures like John Tyler, Abel Upshur and Franklin Pierce. He also reviews the record of the anti-Jeffersonians, including Jefferson’s nemesis, Alexander Hamilton, and Hamilton’s acolytes John Marshall and Joseph Story.

compact-of-the-republic-dave-benner-bookNone of this is a mere exercise in historical curiosity. Benner’s entire work is aimed at pointing to the solution that the Founding Generation would have had for the problems of centralized power that we face today. As Benner observes at the beginning of the book,

“Today we share the gifts of a founding generation which largely understood the nature of tyranny and oppression. The founders realized that if an unconstitutional action was taken by the government and the Constitution was violated, the document itself would not simply produce fangs to bite the offender. Simply put, they realized that the document does not enforce itself,”

A better statement of purpose for the Tenth Amendment Center could not be written. It is our goal to remind the people that they are to be the Constitution’s fangs, that they are to be vigilantly protective of their rights and the rights of their states. David Benner’s Compact of the Republic is an invaluable resource that goes a long way towards, as Thomas Jefferson would say, reawakening the slumbering spirit of 1776.

18 Apr 18:59

Yelp's Way of Caving to Corporate Pressure and Hiding Reviews While Saying They Didn't Delete Anything

by admin

h/t Jts5665

A few days ago I posted a negative review of Applied Underwriters, and linked to this post on my blog for much more detail.  Yelp promptly pulled the review, saying I violated their terms of service by linking to a commercial web site.  I thought that bizarre, since my blog has absolutely nothing commercial about it.   But it made more sense when I received a letter from Applied Underwriters demanding that I take down my negative Yelp review or they would sue me for libel.  I don't know for sure what happened, but I suspect that Applied Underwriters sent Yelp a similar demand and they used the link in the review as an excuse to delete it and avoid legal entanglements.

So I posted an updated review with more detail and no link.  Now, Yelp is hiding the review, along with most of the other negative reviews, behind a nearly invisible link at the bottom that says "other reviews that are not currently recommended".  Scroll down to the bottom of this page and you may see it if you have a keen eye.  It is not even clear it is a link, but if you click on it, you get all the bad reviews Yelp is hiding.

Let's dismiss all the reasons why Yelp might say they do this.  One is clarity, to reduce clutter.  But go to your favorite restaurant Yelp page.  Likely you will not see this link / hidden review phenomenon.  You will see pages and pages of reviews, far more than they would have to show if they just displayed all the reviews for Applied Underwriters.

So there must be another reason.  They say in their note there is a quality algorithm.  Anyone who has read a lot of Yelp reviews will know that if this is so, their quality algorithm is not working very hard.   They have a number of reviews that they "recommend" that are nothing more than a rant like "I will never use these guys again" while my unrecommended review includes paragraphs of detail about the service.  They say it is based on your review volume as well, but I have more Yelp review volume than several of the others who seem to pass the screen.

All of which leads me to believe that this is Yelp's purgatory where they hide reviews based on corporate pressure.  They have gotten a lot of cr*p publicly about deleting bad reviews from sponsors and from corporations that pressure them to do so.   They have a zillion self-righteous FAQ's asserting that they don't delete anything.   So imagine Applied Underwriters sends Yelp loads of threats to take down each negative review that comes up.  What do they do?  They put them in the not-recommended purgatory.  They can claim that they haven't deleted anything, but absolutely no one will ever likely see the review.  And they don't count any longer to the company's review count, so for all intents and purposes they are gone.

All of this is a guess, because it is absolutely impossible to contact Yelp about these issues.  No phone numbers.  The ones in general directories for San Francisco don't work for them.  You can't email or chat or contact their customer support in any way.  For a company in the transparency business, they avoid it like the plague.

But do you want to know what makes me doubly sure of my analysis?  Because there is no way to up-rate any of the "not recommended" reviews.  I would have thought the whole up-rating system was how they sorted reviews to present the most relevent at the top, but you can't do that with the ones they have put in purgatory.  Why?  Because these reviews are being put in purgatory not for some customer benefit but to protect corporations able to put pressure on Yelp.  Yelp doesn't want them uprated.  They are supposed to disappear.    If I had time, I would compare the number of "not recommended" reviews for corporations with powerful legal staffs like Applied Underwriters to the number for Joe's local business  (AU has 17 recommended reviews but a 28 full reviews that have been "disappeared" as unrecommended).

19 Apr 07:01

These Blue States Have Tried the Elizabeth Warren Model. Their Residents Are Fleeing.

by Stephen Moore

Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren recently appeared on one of the late night talk shows, beating the class warfare drum and arguing for billions of dollars in new social programs paid for with higher taxes on millionaires and billionaires. In recent years, though, blue states such as California, Illinois, Delaware, Connecticut, Hawaii, Maryland and Minnesota adopted this very strategy, and they raised taxes on their wealthy residents. How did it work out? Almost all of these states lag behind the national average in growth of jobs and incomes.

So, if income redistribution policies are the solution to shrinking the gap between rich and poor, why do they fail so miserably in the states?

Day after day, the middle class keeps leaving California. The wealthy areas such as San Francisco and the Silicon Valley boom. Yet the state has nearly the highest poverty rate in the nation.

The blue states that try to lift up the poor with high taxes, high welfare benefits, high minimum wages and other Robin Hood policies tend to be the places where the rich end up the richest and the poor the poorest.

California is the prototypical example. It has the highest tax rates of any state. It has very generous welfare benefits. Many of its cities have a high minimum wage. But day after day, the middle class keeps leaving. The wealthy areas such as San Francisco and the Silicon Valley boom. Yet the state has nearly the highest poverty rate in the nation. The Golden State, alas, has become the inequality state.

In a new report called “Rich States, Poor States” that I write each year for the American Legislative Exchange Council with Arthur Laffer and Jonathan Williams, we find that five of the highest-tax blue states in the nation—California, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Illinois—lost some 4 million more U.S. residents than entered these states over the last decade. Meanwhile, the big low-tax red states—Texas, Florida, North Carolina, Arizona and Georgia—gained about this many new residents.

So much for liberal policies creating a workers paradise.

One liberal economic think tank—the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy—recently issued a report on the states with the most and least “regressive” tax systems. The conclusion was that states should raise their income taxes on the rich to be more “fair.” Except it turns out that people are leaving the states that the think tank ranks as fair, and they are moving to the states the think tank ranks as economically backward.

The least “regressive” tax states had average population growth from 2003 to 2013 that lagged below the national trend. The 10 most highly “regressive” tax states, including nine with no state income tax, had population growth on average 4 percent above the U.S. average. Why was that? Because states without income taxes have twice the job growth of states with high tax rates. Unlike the experts at the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, most Americans think that fairness means having a job.

Ohio University economist Richard Vedder and I compared the income gap in states with higher tax rates, higher minimum wages and more welfare benefits with states on the other side of the policy spectrum. There was no evidence that states with these liberal policies had helped the poor much and, in many cases, these states recorded more income inequality than other states as measured by the left’s favorite statistic called the Gini Coefficient.

The 19 states with minimum wages above the $7.25 per hour federal minimum do not have lower income inequality. States with a super minimum wage—such as Connecticut ($9.15), California ($9.00), New York ($8.75), and Vermont ($9.15)—have significantly wider gaps between rich and poor than states without a super minimum wage.

States are supposed to be laboratories of democracy, right? These laboratories are providing us with concrete evidence that Robin Hood policies don’t help make the poor richer, they make most people poorer. In other words, the blue states have tried the Elizabeth Warren “progressive” agenda and people are voting with their feet by fleeing in droves. The kinds of income redistribution policies that Warren and others endorse can only work by building a Berlin Wall so no one can leave—though I hope I’m not giving them any ideas.

Originally published in The Washington Times

The post These Blue States Have Tried the Elizabeth Warren Model. Their Residents Are Fleeing. appeared first on The Daily Signal.