The Locker Room

April 22, 2010

Is information the Obamacrats' worst enemy?

Posted by George Leef at 3:05 PM

In his WSJ column today, Daniel Henninger observes that one big factor in the deep erosion of trust in government is information. These days, it's easy to spread the truth about the looming debt avalanche we face due to decades of federal profligacy and the regime's penchant for spending money as if Washington had a limitless amount.

I think he's on to something. Many people have pointed to the fax machine as having played a crucial role in the downfall of the Soviet Union since it made widespread distribution of information on the woeful condition of the country possible. The internet is no doubt helping opponents of the Nanny State get others to grasp the extent to which the federal government has degraded our future.

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When the lights go down, it ain't pretty

Posted by Paul Chesser at 2:26 PM

The Drudge-linked CNSNews story about Nancy Pelosi's press conference to announce new $140,000 "green" lighting in the Rayburn Building House cafeteria reports the new fixtures "will take almost 10 years to pay off in saved energy:"

(Capitol architect Stephen Myers said,) "At $800 a fixture we can’t get a good return on investment, but when it gets down to $300 – and I’m sure it will go even lower – we’re able to get a good return on investment."

...Pelosi said that the new lights in the cafeteria would make the Capitol a “shining example of sustainability” and green technology.

So how did the fixtures' cost drop so quickly and so dramatically? Because they were made by Durham, N.C.-based Cree Inc., a company whose LED lighting products are heavily subsidized by the government. The Raleigh News & Observer reported today:

U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan, a North Carolina Democrat, took partial credit for the news. In a news release from her office, Hagan wrote that she sent a letter last fall to the Senate Rules Committee encouraging them to select Cree's LEDs for new, energy-efficient lighting.

The light-emitting diodes made by Durham-based Cree are being adopted by cities, schools and businesses eager to embrace LEDs, which cost more than traditional lights but last much longer and use much less electricity.

Here's the last paragraph of Hagan's press release:

Cree, which employs roughly 1,900 North Carolinians, received a $39 million Advanced Energy Manufacturing Credit as a part of the Stimulus that Congress passed last year. Senator Hagan supported Cree's effort to obtain this credit, which allowed the company to lower LED lighting costs and begin construction on a new facility in Durham.

Vice President Biden visited Cree's facility last month to promote the administration's initiatives to create "green" jobs, which I blogged about:

A news report did mention, however, that Cree has received a $39-million tax credit through the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act, as well as $1.8 million in stimulus money for research and development. This coincided nicely with a visit by Cree president and CEO Chuck Swoboda to the White House last July, as well as a 2009 increase in Cree's lobbying expenditures of 137 percent over the previous year.

So considering the actual amount taxpayers paid for the new lights, the cost is much higher, and my bet is that they never will pay for themselves.

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Invisible Environmental Risks

Posted by Daren Bakst at 2:01 PM

I think this South Park clip captures the invisible environmental risks discussed in my recent post and Jon's recent post

I hope everyone is having a nice Earth Day and getting lots of presents.

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Prez and Vice Prez should make Earth Day pledge to jet pool

Posted by Dr. Roy Cordato at 1:55 PM

Now personally I couldn't care less how much CO2 our president and vice president's travels emit. Indeed, 6th grade science class teaches us that a more CO2 enriched atmosphere would actually generate a greener planet. But Obama and Biden believe that CO2 is a pollutant--or at least they say they do. Given this they should be setting an example for the rest of the country and indeed the world. But instead this morning the commander in chief and his vice commander in chief took off in separate jets leaving from the same place (Washington DC) that were both headed to the same place (New York City). As I said, from an environmental perspective I have no problem with this but I hate to have our rulers, um, I mean, leaders, look hypocritical in the eyes of their peers around the world, all of whom do think that there is a problem with such behavior and that CO2 is destroying the planet. From the perspective of their own credibility, O & B should make an Earth Day pledge to jet pool whenever possible. I know it would be a huge sacrifice in privacy for the two of them and it might mean that a little plan coordination would be necessary but, if we are to believe what they are constantly telling us, the costs of not taking these steps could be catastrophic.

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Tancredo Returns to UNC

Posted by Jenna Ashley Robinson at 1:32 PM

On Monday, former congressman Tom Tancredo will be returning to UNC-Chapel Hill; it's unclear whether he'll be able to deliver his speech.

Protesters are promising to shut down the event, just like they did last time Tancredo visited Carolina.

This time, the event's organizers (Youth for Western Civilization) are taking some precautions: bags will be searched and tickets are required for admission to the event. It remains to be seen whether those steps will be enough.

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Drawing the wrong conclusion — or, almost not a facepalm

Posted by Jon Sanders at 1:27 PM

From the article in Daren's post below on Earth Day:

On Thursday, 40 years after that first Earth Day in 1970, smog levels nationwide have dropped by about a quarter, and lead levels in the air are down more than 90 percent. Formerly fetid lakes and burning rivers are now open to swimmers.

Then follows:

The challenges to the planet today are largely invisible and therefore tougher to tackle. ...

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Invisible Risks and Earth Day

Posted by Daren Bakst at 1:10 PM

The improvements in the environment really are worth celebrating.  The environment is much cleaner than it has been in decades.

A cleaner environment though isn't good news for the environmental extremist groups (and their fundraising efforts).

Here's an article from the notoriously biased AP reporter Seth Borenstein on how much cleaner the environment is, but instead of celebrating this, the article is an attempt to make sure that you don't forget that we have major problems still. 

From the article:

On Thursday, 40 years after that first Earth Day in 1970, smog levels nationwide have dropped by about a quarter, and lead levels in the air are down more than 90 percent. Formerly fetid lakes and burning rivers are now open to swimmers.

The challenges to the planet today are largely invisible and therefore tougher to tackle.

Maybe the threats are invisible because they don't exist?  But of course that would make too much sense.  We all know what the big invisible "threat" is: global warming.

Give the environmental extremists credit, when there's no major environmental problems, make one up that nobody can see and make the problem as severe as possible. 

I want to celebrate today though instead of criticizing.  Here's what I wrote in an April, 2007 report examining the 6 major air pollutants the EPA regulates (here's three examples):

  • Carbon monoxide: 2005 levels of carbon monoxide in N.C. were 3.7 times less than 1990 levels and five times less than the federal standard.

  • Lead: Since 1980, lead has declined by 96 percent across the entire country, in part due to unleaded gasoline. The EPA data indicate that North Carolina’s lead air concentration is 37.5 times below the federal standard.

  • Sulfur dioxide (contributes to acid raid): The 2005 level of sulfur dioxide in N.C. is 9.4 times less than the federal standard and is at its lowest level during the period for which data are available (1990-2005).

Happy Earth Day!

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Moaning for choice

Posted by David N. Bass at 12:57 AM

Considering how large a role abortion played in the congressional health care reform scuffle, it’s little wonder the latest issue of Newsweek lends some ink to it. The piece mostly gives voice to Baby Boomer pro-choicers moaning about their waning influence (emphasis mine):

This past January, when [NARAL president Nancy] Keenan’s train pulled into Washington’s Union Square, a few blocks from the Capitol, she was greeted by a swarm of anti-abortion-rights activists. It was the 37th March for Life, organized every year on Jan. 22, the anniversary of [Roe v. Wade]. “I just thought, my gosh, they are so young,” Keenan recalled. “There are so many of them, and they are so young.” March for Life estimates it drew 400,000 activists to the Capitol this year. An anti-Stupak rally two months earlier had about 1,300 attendees.

Later in the article, another NARAL’er opines that ultrasounds have “helped to define how people think about a fetus as a full, breathing human being.” Darn that technology!

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JLF's legal expert urges Cooper to rethink decision on health care lawsuit

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 12:18 AM

Daren Bakst believes North Carolina's attorney general needs to take another look at joining a lawsuit involving his counterparts in 20 other states. These attorneys general are challenging the federal health care reform legislation.

Follow the link to learn why Bakst believes A.G. Roy Cooper should reconsider joining the fight against ObamaCare. Bakst also discusses his advice in the video clip below.

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An Earth Day Challenge

Posted by Chad Adams at 12:04 AM

I'd like to challenge the environmental groups and institution listed below to provide a simple piece of information. Choose whatever cap and trade proposal, set of EPA regulations, or UN treaty on CO2 reduction that you support and tell us how much cooler the planet will be, compared to doing nothing, in 100 years if it is implemented. Please provide a reference to the climate science research supporting your claim.
Environment North Carolina
Environmental Defense
The Sierra Club
Duke's Nicholas Institute
The Energy Center at Appalachian State University
The Center for Climate Strategy
Any member of the NC Legislative Commission on Climate Change

It should be noted that with the NC Climate commission this is information that they were supposed to have provided in their recently completed final report, so the number should be right at their finger tips.

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Olbermann is angry that you think he's angry

Posted by David N. Bass at 10:17 AM

Who knew? MSNBC anchor Keith Olbermann isn't angry and hateful. And he's angry and hateful that anyone would suggest it.

From the NYT (emphasis mine):

A television segment about angry media commentators created a furor inside MSNBC this week, one that extended outside the cable news channel after the segment’s host, Donny Deutsch, found himself dismissed as a guest anchor Wednesday.

Four people briefed on the matter said the cancellation of Mr. Deutsch’s weeklong show, called “America the Angry,” was the result of an unflattering mention of MSNBC’s No. 1 anchor, Keith Olbermann, on Tuesday.

On that day, in what was supposed to be the second day of a weeklong series, Mr. Deutsch included a segment about the role that the media plays in fomenting the public’s anger. Mr. Olbermann was mentioned briefly and shown in a series of clips of media figures.

MSNBC executives were said to be unhappy with the segment, and informed Mr. Deutsch on Wednesday morning that his show had been canceled for the rest of the week.

SNIP

Four people briefed on MSNBC’s decision said that Mr. Olbermann was angered by the segment, and that his displeasure prompted the cancellation of the “America the Angry” series. But in an e-mail message Mr. Olbermann said that account was untrue; he wrote that Phil Griffin, the president of MSNBC, “phoned me yesterday enraged at what was on that show and I didn’t disagree with him.”

Keith's power to enact a "Night of Long Knives" purge is only limited to guest hosts, it would appear. After all, Chris Matthews is still at the network even after biting Olbermann's head off two years ago.

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Is it accurate to call Obama a socialist?

Posted by George Leef at 10:15 AM

In this piece Professor Steven Horwitz argues that we shouldn't call Obama a socialist, since he has not (yet, at least) called for government takeover of the means of production. Instead, Horwitz says that a better label would be "corporatist" or "economic fascist."

Horwitz is responding to a silly piece by AEI's Norman Ornstein, who said it was a "smear" to call Obama a socialist. Ornstein thinks he's a "pragmatic centrist." What a useless non-description that is!

Although Obama has not come right out and declared that he's in favor of a "single producer" economic system to match his 2003 statement that he wants a "single payer" health care system (Obamacare is, I think, designed to reach that goal by successive approximations), we shouldn't discount the possibility that he really is in favor of complete socialism and just doesn't want to admit it. All we KNOW is that Obama believes in a great deal of governmental power to control society; whether or not he'd want to extend that control as far as Marx and Lenin wanted or believes that somewhat more freedom is beneficial is something we don't know.

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Latest dispatches from the campaign trail

Posted by David N. Bass at 08:09 AM

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If Mark Steyn’s right, we’ll need all those people

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 07:54 AM

You’ll also read in the latest Newsweek Joel Kotkin’s projections about demographic changes on the way for the United States and its economic competitors.

For instance, the population of Americans between the ages of 15 and 64 will grow by 42 percent between 2000 and 2050. In China, membership in that working-age group will decline by 10 percent. It’s even worse for Japan: a 44-percent drop.

Why should we care about these figures? Mark Steyn explained in his 2006 book America Alone:

To understand why the West seems so weak in the face of a laughably primitive enemy it's necessary to examine the wholesale transformation undergone by almost every advanced nation since World War Two. Today, in your typical election campaign, the political platforms of at least one party in the United States and pretty much every party in the rest of the West are all but exclusively about ... secondary impulses: government health care (which America is slouching toward, incrementally but remorselessly), government day care (which was supposedly the most important issue in the 2006 Canadian election), government paternity leave (which Britain has introduced). We've elevated the secondary impulses over the primary ones: national defense, self-reliance, family, and, most basic of all, reproductive activity. If you don't "go forth and multiply" you can't afford all those secondary-impulse programs, like lifelong welfare, whose costs are multiplying a lot faster than you are. Most of the secondary-impules stuff falls under the broad category of self-gratification issues: we want the state to take our elderly relatives off our hands not so much because it's better for them but because otherwise the old coots would cut seriously into our own time. Fair enough. But once you decide you can do without grandparents, it's not such a stretch to decide you can do without grandchildren.

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A more successful foreign adventure

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 07:53 AM

While Newsweek writers might not have captured the essence of Texas, at least the magazine showcases this week the work of a man who did a much better job cataloguing the nature of a foreign land dedicated to constitutional republican principles.

While the article expresses ambivalence about its subject, it’s nonetheless a pleasure to see coverage devoted to Alexis de Tocqueville’s Democracy In America.

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43,000 students denied NYC charter school spots

Posted by Dr. Terry Stoops at 07:52 AM

Article from The New York Post:

A record 43,000 students could not get into charter schools this year because of a lack of space -- a pent-up demand that will only worsen because of the state's cap on new schools, officials said yesterday.

There are currently 99 charter schools in the city, a number that will expand to 125 next fall with 38,400 students.

But the increase in capacity can't keep up with a growing number of parents desperately seeking to get their kids into popular charters.

About 55,000 students applied to enroll in charter schools, according to the New York City Charter Center. But only 11,700 will be accepted -- about 20 percent.

That means about 80 percent of students are turned away, or on waiting lists.
North Carolina turned away or wait listed between 15,000 and 20,000 students last year. Popular Wake County charter schools like Franklin Academy and Raleigh Charter High School had thousands of applicants for hundreds of seats.

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Texas as exotic travel destination

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 07:52 AM

Read Newsweek’s cover story on Texas, and you might get the impression that the eastern establishment types who run the national news magazine treat their subject as some sort of bizarre foreign country in which people believe in such shocking concepts as free enterprise and limited government.

At least Gov. Rick Perry gets 1 ½ pages to make the case for his policies in his own words, in the form of an interview transcript:

A year later, you're more resolute about the divide between the states and the federal government. The federal government wants to be the epicenter of all thought and policy and one-size-fits-all. It's very clear that we have very, very different ideas about the structure of this country and how it should work. The tea parties are a reflection of that. I think they are highly economic-driven. At the end of the day, it is about the economy—that's really what drives people. Government is basically saying, "I don't care how hard you work. We are going to take more of [your money], because we know best how to redistribute it around the country." It really irritates a lot of Americans.

Follow the links for more information on the success of the Texas economy.

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No love for the VAT

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 07:51 AM

If you watched Roy Cordato’s address to Goldsboro’s Tea Party crowd last week …

… you might have noticed his description of the “granddaddy tax of them all, which is coming down the pike, the European socialist-style value added tax.”

Robert J. Samuelson pans the same tax in his latest Newsweek column:

Does anyone believe that Americans wouldn't notice 16 percent price increases for cars, televisions, airfares, gasoline—and much more—even if phased in? As for a VAT's claimed benefits (simplicity, promotion of investment), these depend on a VAT replacing the present complex income tax that discriminates against investment. That's unlikely; the needed VAT rates would be implausibly steep. Chances are, we'd pay both.

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Earth Day standards for high schoolers

Posted by Dr. Terry Stoops at 07:41 AM

North Carolina Essential Standards
Adopted standards for Earth/Environmental Science

Essential Standard:

EEn.2.8 Evaluate human behaviors in terms of how likely they are to ensure the ability to live sustainably on Earth.

Clarifying Objectives:

EEn.2.8.1 Evaluate alternative energy technologies for use in North Carolina.

EEn.2.8.2 Critique conventional and sustainable agriculture and aquaculture practices in terms of their environmental impacts.

EEn.2.8.3 Explain the effects of uncontrolled population growth on the Earth’s resources.

EEn.2.8.4 Evaluate the concept of “reduce, reuse, recycle” in terms of impact on natural resources.

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New Carolina Journal Online features

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 06:43 AM

The latest Carolina Journal Online exclusive features Sarah Okeson's report on the latest projections for North Carolina's state pension fund investment performance. 

John Hood's Daily Journal analyzes recent poll results to get a sense of North Carolina voters' opinions heading into the primary election.

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