The inconvenience of environmental silliness

I am in Turkey this week, and even here the environmentalists hold sway. If anything, many things are worse here than in the US. For example, in the hotel that I am staying in Bodrum, you must put your key in a slot in your room to have any of the electricity work in your room. I found this out when I tried to recharge my computer. I had to take the key with me when I left the room, but since the electricity was shut off as soon as I removed the key from its slot the computer stopped recharging. Here is the real kicker though. They only allow one key per room. The reason is simple. If they let people have two keys, they could leave one in the slot when they leave the room. If two people are staying in the same room, this would produce some real inconveniences. My view is if people leave the TV or air conditioning on when they leave the room, room rates would have to be higher to cover those added costs. But it makes a lot more sense to leave this up to the hotel and its customers than to pass regulations requiring such wacky rules.

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On Obama being willing to discuss issues with those he disagrees

Fox News has this:

“Part of my philosophy … is I believe in listening to people even when I disagree with them,” Obama said. “And part of the reason that the Jewish community in Chicago is so close to me is because they know that on many occasions I’ve spoken out vigorously against anti-Semitism, even in my own community, even when it’s not convenient.

Well, I can only say that at least on the issue of guns, this was not Obama's approach. When I knew him at the University of Chicago, he was unwilling to discuss the issue and indeed the impression that I got was that Obama was not willing to discuss issues that he disagreed with generally, though it might simply be he was unwilling to discuss issues with conservatives.



Car deal offers free guns with car purchase

Fox News has this:

BUTLER, Mo. — Salesmen at one Missouri car dealership aren't just kicking in a free CD player or factory air: They're offering a free handgun with every purchase.

Through the end of the month, car buyers at Max Motors in Butler will have a choice — $250 toward either a gun purchase or gasoline.

General manager Walter Moore said that so far, most buyers have chosen the gun, adding that he suggests they opt for a semiautomatic model "because it holds more rounds."

(In the fine print, the ad on the Web site explains, "Check written toward purchase price" and also mentions, "Approved Background Check REQUIRED!!")

Moore said he suspects his "Free Handgun" ad will draw protests in some places. But not in Butler, about 65 miles south of Kansas City.

Moore said, "Down here, we all believe in God, guts and guns." . . .

Surely this produces a lot of advertising for the car dealer.

Thanks to Tony Troglio for sending me this link.


Texas had no right to take children from polygamists

This court case could eventually lead to the same rights for polygamists as is being demanded for homosexuals. I think that the courts are going to have a hard time differentiating these different types of relationships between consenting adults. In any case, this is just the first in a string of decisions. David Friedman has been following the case very closely. The latest developments can be seen here.

SAN ANGELO, Texas — In a ruling that could torpedo the case against the West Texas polygamist sect, a state appeals court Thursday said authorities had no right to seize more than 440 children in a raid on the splinter group's compound last month.

The Third Court of Appeals in Austin said the state failed to show the youngsters were in any immediate danger, the only grounds in Texas law for taking children from their parents without court action.

It was not clear when the children — now scattered in foster homes across the state — might be returned to their parents. The ruling gave a lower-court judge 10 days to release the youngsters from custody, but the state could appeal to the Texas Supreme Court and block that. . . . .

The Houston Chronicle reports:

In the decision, the 3rd Court ruled that CPS failed to provide any evidence that the children were in imminent danger. It said state acted hastily in removing them from their families.

The agency had argued that the children on the ranch were either abused or at risk of abuse. The Texas Family Code allows a judge to consider whether the "household" to which a child would be returned includes a person who has sexually abused another child. Child welfare officials alleged that the polygamist sect's practice of marrying underage girls to older men places all its children at risk of sexual abuse.

"The existence of the FLDS belief system as described by the Department’s witnesses, by itself, does not put children of FLDS parents in physical danger," said the unanimous ruling by the three-judge panel of the 3rd Court. "Removing children from their homes on an emergency basis before fully litigating the issue of whether the parents should continue to have custody of the children is an extreme measure.



Off to Turkey

I am off to Turkey to give a couple of talks over the next week. I am not sure what my schedule will be, but there might be relatively few posts until May 30th. Happy Memorial Day!


The Daily Kos Tries to Correct my latest op-ed at Fox News

You can see the discussion of my latest Fox News op-ed on the Daily Kos here. Bold italics is from my article. Italics is from the Daily Kos comments.

How would you like elections without secret ballots? To most people, the notion of getting rid of secret ballots is absurd. This is modern-day America. Such an idea could not be seriously considered, right?

All in favor of keeping secret ballots as the exclusive way to vote, raise your hands (snark). Caucuses are a strong way to elect a candidate by discussing pros/and cons and advocating for your choice. Petitions to make our government support our causes are not anonymous. Secrecy is unhealthy and bad for democracy. Secrecy lets people sell their vote, and not stand up for their beliefs. When secrecy is the law of the land, we will be a nation of cowards.

But more importantly, this first sentence has nothing to do with what Obama and a majority of Senators have not so secretly voted for with the Employee Free Choice Act. The EFCA does not do away with secret ballot elections. It leaves secret ballot elections as an option for employees, but strengthens the penalties for violating the current law, and requires employers to accept the results of a valid majority card check election. If employers suspect illegal coercion of employees, they can challenge a card check election.

Here is how even the Senate Democrats describe the legislation:

EFCA does not strip workers of their right to choose a secret-ballot election to decide whether to select -- or not to select -- a union representative. EFCA simply gives workers the additional option of selecting a union representative by majority sign-up.
Under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), there are three ways for workers to form a union:

1) By secret-ballot: The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) will conduct a secret-ballot election to select a bargaining representative if at least 30 percent of workers have signed a petition or authorization cards in favor of a union. If a majority of workers voting select a particular union, the NLRB will certify that union as the employees’ bargaining representative. EFCA does not change this process.

2) By voluntary card-check recognition: An employer can voluntarily decide to recognize a union representative if a majority of employees have signed authorization cards in favor of the union. EFCA does not change this process.

3) By NLRB-ordered recognition: As a last resort, the NLRB can order an employer who has engaged in unfair labor practices that make a fair election unlikely to recognize a labor union if a majority of employees have signed authorization cards in favor of the union. EFCA does not change this process.

If you get 30 percent of workers to sign cards, there is an election. If you get 50 percent, there is no election. Previously, it was up to the employer at that point to have an election. When they say that "EFCA does not change this process" they are just saying if the employer decided not to go forward with an election.

Secret balloting has solved another potential problem: vote buying, which they essentially ended in U.S. elections. After all, why pay people if you couldn't be sure how they voted?

Hmmm. Interesting premise. Of course, secret balloting does make vote stealing possible. After all how could you steal an election if you knew how everyone voted? But fortunately Diebold doesn't administer secret ballot elections for unions, and again, Obama isn't suggesting doing away with the option for employees to choose a secret ballot process to form a union. More likely vote buying was essentially ended because it is illegal and prosecuted. I didn't even know that U.S. elections were at one time not secret.

The point raised here about stealing elections they way that they mention have nothing to do with secret ballots. Even with secret ballots, the question is how they are counted. If counted votes are altered, that can be true whether you have secret ballots or not. Possibly the Democrats don't know how secret ballots are counted. But with the signed cards, they are turned in and then counted. The person who signed them does not stay with their card the entire time until all the cards are counted.

Currently, when 50 percent of workers in a company sign statements to unionize, that merely sets up a second stage, where workers vote by secret ballot to determine if the company would be unionized. Under the new proposal, using a system called "Card Check," unionization would occur as soon as half the workers had signed cards stating that they favor union representation.

Two important words make this statement a lie:
"New." Card check is not new. U.S. Supreme Court upheld the use of card check in 1969 stating, "Almost from the inception of the Act, then, it was recognized that a union did not have to be certified as the winner of a Board election to invoke a bargaining obligation; it could establish majority status by other means ... by showing convincing support, for instance, by a union-called strike or strike vote, or, as here, by possession of cards signed by a majority of the employees authorizing the union to represent them for collective bargaining purposes.'

I was referring to the "new proposal" that used the card check. I do not believe I wrote that the card check was new.

"Would." This should be "could", since employees could choose a NLRB secret ballot election if they prefer anonymity and didn't mind waiting a few years to be able to negotiate for better wages and benefits. If they wanted to make that process shorter, they could use card check to negotiate a contract, which would have to be ratified by a majority of employees using "secret ballot." So the charges that a union could be elected by fraud is moot. You can't force employees to strike or accept a contract, or do anything that would give a union power over an employer unless the majority of employees are willing participants. Decertifying a union by card check is just as easy as forming one.

If 30 percent of employees sign the cards, they get a secret ballot. If 50 percent sign, no secret ballot. None of this responds to the point in my piece.

Daily Kos throws around the term lies a lot when they are not able to accurately discuss the issues here. The Poll that they have at the end of the discussion is fairly weird. There is no really good answer though the second one about the GOP is at least true. It would be nice if they included an option such as, it makes some workers better off at the expense of other workers who lose their jobs.

Thinking Right has this comment:

Democrats accuse Republicans of favoring “Big Oil,” “Big Tobacco,” and “Big Pharmaceutical,” but why doesn’t the Mainstream Media ever refer to the Democrats love of “Big Union”?

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PREDICTION: Clinton will win the total Dem primary vote

It is pretty clear to me that Hillary will very likely win the popular vote for the Democratic nomination, virtually anyway you cut it.

First note that RealClearPolitics indicates the following vote differences between Clinton and Obama:

Popular Vote Total Obama +417,805 +1.2%
Popular Vote (w/FL) Obama +123,033 +0.3%
Popular Vote (w/FL & MI)** Clinton +205,276 +0.58%

Tonight it appears clear that Clinton will net 150,000 more votes between Kentucky and Oregon than Obama. If that holds when the rest of the votes in Oregon are counted, Clinton could have a 30,000 vote lead in the popular vote with Florida. Then there are only three places voting left.

Note Puerto Rico has about 3 million adults.
Montana has about 728,000 adults
South Dakota has about 587,000 adults

PR thus has 1.68 million more adults than Montana and SD. Obviously, Democratic primary voters would only make up something around a quarter or more of this total. Clinton is apparently strong in PR (ahead by 13 points in mid April). It seems very plausible that even if Clinton loses Montana and SD, she will pick up a couple hundred net votes. I found one poll for SD in April that showed, Obama ahead by 10 points, but things could have changed since then. Clearly she will be clearly ahead with Florida and Florida & Michigan and the total without them would be very close. If she carries SD and or Montana, I think it would likely be that she would carry the total vote without Florida or Michigan.

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Walter Williams' new op-ed on Gun Control

Walter has a useful piece here:

Every time there's a highly publicized shooting, out go the cries for stricter gun control laws, and it was no different with the recent murder of Philadelphia Police Sgt. Stephen Liczbinski. Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell and Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter, in a letter to the state congressional delegation demanding reenactment of the federal assault weapon ban, said, "Passing this legislation will go a long way to protecting those who put their lives on the line every day for us. … There is no excuse to do otherwise." . . . .


Hope that Senator Kennedy can be helped with his cancer

I may agree with Senator Ted Kennedy on very few issues, but no one should have to suffer what I fear that he will have to be suffering with brain cancer. One can only wish him and his family well.


Student expelled from College for story

Given the school ban on guns, it was probably not a wise move to have the guns in his dorm. I assume from the story that the student hasn't gotten into another school yet, and I would guess that he will not.

When Steven Barber turned in a short story this semester for his creative-writing class at the University of Virginia's College at Wise, his instructor was alarmed. The 23-year-old student had produced an imagined account of someone on the edge of a violent breakdown, touching on suicide and murder.

"It had to be acted on immediately," says Christopher Scalia, the instructor. He alerted administrators, who reacted swiftly, searching Mr. Barber's dorm room and car. Upon discovering three guns, they had him committed to a psychiatric institution for a weekend. Then they expelled him.

Yet the psychiatrists who evaluated Mr. Barber during his hospitalization determined he was no threat to himself or others. Mr. Barber says the guns were for protection from threats such as school shootings. He maintains that his story, titled "Sh---y First Drafts," was merely a fictional attempt to address school shootings such as the April 16, 2007, Virginia Tech massacre, which left 33 dead, including the gunman. The story "was supposed to show how disturbed people are who do that," Mr. Barber says. . . .

On Monday morning, the hospital released Mr. Barber, after deciding he was neither mentally ill nor a threat to himself or others. He wasn't allowed to return to campus. Several days later, the university expelled him. He unsuccessfully appealed his expulsion. . . .

This is a little strange:

If they overreact, schools could violate students' privacy and civil rights. Some schools, such as Valdosta State University in Valdosta, Ga., are finding it helpful to scrutinize students' Facebook or MySpace pages, for example. First Amendment experts warn that this practice can violate freedom-of-speech protections. . . .

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More on the decade or so "pause" in global warming

OK, first it was changing the name for "Global Warming" to "Climate Change," now we get this:

You may have heard earlier this month that global warming is now likely to take break for a decade or more. There will be no more warming until 2015, perhaps later.

Climate scientist Noel Keenlyside, leading a team from Germany's Leibniz Institute of Marine Science and the Max Planck Institute of Meteorology, for the first time entered verifiable data on ocean circulation cycles into one of the U. N.'s climate supercomputers, and the machine spit out a projection that there will be no more warming for the foreseeable future.

Of course, Mr. Keenlyside-- long a defender of the man-made global warming theory -- was quick to add that after 2015 (or perhaps 2020), warming would resume with a vengeance.

Climate alarmists the world over were quick to add that they had known all along there would be periods when the Earth's climate would cool even as the overall trend was toward dangerous climate change.

Sorry, but that is just so much backfill. . . .

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Killing some animals to save others

It is OK to make humans bear huge costs to save the lives of species, but it is wrong to kill a few Kangaroos to save some species? I get the basic idea: it is wrong to intervene in nature, but humans are not part of nature. Here is an example now from Australia:

Authorities say the overabundant kangaroos are crowding out other native species, but many animal rights activists are against the killing of Australia's beloved national symbol. . . .

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Obama on Talking to Hostile Governments

On thing that seems to be left out of much of the news coverage on Obama wanting to talk to countries such as Iran is that Obama wanted to do it “without precondition." Obama cites many cases where he says that talking to others was helpful, though he ignores that Reagan and others had preconditions on talking. Rich Lowry has a discussion on the success of the diplomacy that Obama cites.

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NBC selectively editing Bush's remarks

Fox News has the story on NBC's editing here.


Evaluating the Supreme Court's decision on voter IDs

A former commissioner on the Federal Election Commission discusses the reaction to the decision here:

The ink was barely dry on the Supreme Court’s decision in the Crawford case upholding Indiana’s voter-identification law before the editorial pages were filled with dire predictions of the mass disenfranchisement of voters. The New York Times thundered that “disadvantaged groups” would be “discouraged from casting ballots.” Cynthia Tucker of the Atlanta Journal Constitution insulted the author of the lead opinion, staunchly liberal Justice John Paul Stevens, writing that it was no surprise that “a group of wealthy male jurists favors suppression of the franchise…[a]fter all, the Founding Fathers believed that only white men should have the vote.” She must have been truly dismayed last year when Georgia’s voter-ID law was also upheld by the Georgia Supreme Court and a federal court, and was even praised in Justice Breyer’s dissenting opinion in Crawford. . . .

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New Op-ed up at Fox News: Secret Ballots May End in Union Elections If Obama Becomes President

My newest op-ed can be found at Fox News:

How would you like elections without secret ballots? To most people, the notion of getting rid of secret ballots is absurd. This is modern-day America. Such an idea could not be seriously considered, right?

People support secret balloting for very obvious reasons. Politics frequently generates hot tempers. People can put up yard signs or wear political buttons if they want. But not everyone feels comfortable making his or her political positions public. Many would rather vote without fearing that their choice will offend or anger someone else.

Secret balloting has solved another potential problem: vote buying, which they essentially ended in U.S. elections. After all, why pay people if you couldn't be sure how they voted?

But if Barack Obama becomes president, secret ballots seem destined to end for at least one type of election: union certifications. . . .

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Obama thinks that we need the approval of other countries before heating our homes to 72 degrees

From Obama's speech in Oregon on Sunday:

"We can't drive our SUVs and eat as much as we want and keep our homes on 72 degrees at all times ... and then just expect that other countries are going to say OK," Obama said.
"That's not leadership. That's not going to happen," he added. . . .

McCain wants a tax to limit CO2 emissions. Obama wants a higher tax, but the tax is really besides the point because if we are willing to pay the tax he then wants regulations to stop us.

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Predicted number of Hurricanes to fall by 18 percent over next 90 years?

I really don't know what to do about these models and more than I put a lot of faith in similar modeling in economics. In any case, given that environmentalists have cited this guy in the past, I wonder what they will say now. Who knows what to make about these predictions 90 years from now.

WASHINGTON — Global warming isn't to blame for the recent jump in hurricanes in the Atlantic, concludes a study by a prominent federal scientist whose position has shifted on the subject.

Not only that, warmer temperatures will actually reduce the number of hurricanes in the Atlantic and those making landfall, research meteorologist Tom Knutson reported in a study released Sunday.

In the past, Knutson has raised concerns about the effects of climate change on storms. His new paper has the potential to heat up a simmering debate among meteorologists about current and future effects of global warming in the Atlantic. . . .

What makes this study different is Knutson, a meteorologist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's fluid dynamics lab in Princeton, N.J.

He has warned about the harmful effects of climate change and has even complained in the past about being censored by the Bush administration on past studies on the dangers of global warming.

The study, published online Sunday in the journal Nature Geoscience, predicts that by the end of the century the number of hurricanes in the Atlantic will fall by 18 percent. . . .


Little recycling available for fluorescent light bulbs with Mercury

So much for well thought out plans:

It's a message being drummed into the heads of homeowners everywhere: Swap out those incandescent lights with longer-lasting compact fluorescent bulbs and cut your electric use.

Governments, utilities, environmentalists and, of course, retailers everywhere are spreading the word.

Few, however, are volunteering to collect the mercury-laced bulbs for recycling -- despite what public officials and others say is a potential health hazard if the hundreds of millions of them being sold are tossed in the trash and end up in landfills and incinerators.

For now, much of the nation has no real recycling network for CFLs, despite the ubiquitous PR campaigns, rebates and giveaways encouraging people to adopt the swirly darlings of the energy-conscious movement. Recyclers and others guess that only a small fraction of CFLs sold in the United States are recycled, while the rest are put out with household trash or otherwise discarded. . . . .

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Ruth Ginsburg is Scalia's best friend on the Supreme Court

I found this interesting:

That’s the surprising admission of Scalia, a target of liberals who all but worship Ginsburg. He revealed his closeness to her Friday during an appearance on the "Laura Ingraham Show" where he spoke about his new book “The Art of Persuading Judges.”

“I consider myself a good friend of every one of my colleagues, both past and present,” Scalia told Laura. “Some more than others. My best friend on the Court is and has been for many years, Ruth Ginsburg. Her basic approach is not mine, but she’s a lovely person and a good loyal friend.” . . .


Most guns caught being brought into Canada are from vacationers, not smugglers

The Toronto Sun reports (emphasis added):

Border guns for tourists While firearms seized at border on rise, majority of guns caught from vacationers, not smugglers


The cache of firearms seized by Canadian border guards swelled by 30% in 2007, but the vast majority of gun runners were unwitting American tourists, not gangsters or criminal smugglers.

Internal reports from Canada Border Services Agency's Strategic Intelligence Analysis division record 662 seizures of machine guns, rifles, antique weapons, revolvers and pistols last year -- up from 509 in 2006. About 75% of the illicit catch is handguns, which many want outlawed in Canada. . . . .

It would be helpful if the article actually said what percentage of guns being brought in were by tourists. "Vast majority" is useful, but a precise number would be better. Given the other biases in the story (e.g., "record 662 seizures of machine guns, rifles, antique weapons, revolvers and pistols last year," listing machine guns first when obviously they are extremely rare), makes me believe that if the share of tourists accidentally doing this wasn't extremely high, the share would have been listed.

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