Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Cudos to Oakdale City Council

I was at an Oakdale City Council meeting tonight, and wanted to point out a pleasant result.  There was a report about the placement of public trash cans in locations near trails.  The city engineer had the units installed and then monitored to determine if and how they were used.  He reported that they were not really used, and remarked that they cost about $300 to service them for about a 6 month period.  I knew what I, as a taxpayer, would do, and waited to hear what they would do about the installations.  There was some discussion, that ultimately resulted in the decision to remove them and relocate two to other locations to determine if they would make an impact there.  If they did not, the decision was to just pull them without further consideration. 

Next there was a bidding contract award for $2.1 or $2.4 million for blacktopping.  This was $400,000 less than earlier estimates had been for the project.  A very nice and well managed bidding process!

You might ask why I find the decision about $300 worthy of being mentioned, when compared to the $400,000.  The reason is found in one of the more egregious traits of many governmental groups.  The pernicious, progressive, growth of government cost is often the result of simply starting a program and then never reviewing and terminating it when its found to be ineffective, or not caring to follow up.  It just continues to draw resources and is perpetuated along with all the other useless programs that accumulate. 

The Bible has a verse that applies well to this, Luke 16:10:
"Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much."

The appropriate handling, and not wasting, of even small expenses bodes well to the thoughtful use of the money we as tax payers give to government.  I hope they continue to make good decisions on the small things.  Then I will have reason to believe they will be making good decisions on the big things as well!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Betty McCollum Shoots the S&P Messenger

An article from the Strib relates:
April 18, 2011 Debt worries turn up heat on Congress to act
"We believe there is a material risk that U.S. policymakers might not reach an agreement on how to address medium- and long-term budgetary challenges by 2013," Standard & Poor's said in a release. "We believe there is at least a one-in-three likelihood that we could lower our long-term rating on the U.S. within two years."
At least one Minnesota Democrat, U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson, said he believed there was still time to avert that outcome.

"Obviously, we've got a mess," Peterson said of Congress' inability to agree on a fix to the nation's debt crisis. "Whether this is the end of the world? My experience has been that these Wall Street announcements may be more for Wall Street. We're not going to default [on bond and other loan payments]."

Rep. Betty McCollum, a Democrat, met S&P's skepticism with some skepticism of her own.

"S&P is a questionable authority since their AAA ratings of mortgage-backed securities helped bring on the financial crisis," she noted.

But Minnesota Rep. Erik Paulsen, a Republican, called the S&P notice a warning for Congress to do something "sooner rather than later."

"Both parties share responsibility in creating this fiscal mess, and we must work together to find long-term solutions to get our fiscal house in order," Paulsen said.

The other representatives had reasonable responses, acknowledging the problem the debt creates, and that Congress needs to act to lower the debt.  However, the best quote the Strib, a noted supporter of CD4's Betty McCollum, could come up with from Congresswoman McCollum was basically "shoot the messenger"! Sounds a lot like the June 28, 2004 letter she signed telling President Bush
In closing, we reiterate that an exclusive emphasis on safety and soundness, without an appropriate balance in focus on the affordable housing mission of the GSEs, is misplaced. Strong safety and soundness regulation and a vigorous affordable housing mission are not only compatible, but will reinforce each other. We ask you to work with us to craft legislation that achieves the proper balance in both areas.

First, the responsibility for oversight of the GSE's belongs with Congress.  Congresswoman McCollum was appointed to the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform in January 2007.  She was not on the oversight committee in 2005 when Congress was ignoring the impending crisis, but she certainly should have known of the congressional failings by 2007, and the letter above implies she was more intimately involved in it.  There were also many limitations on Standard & Poor's rating of these GSE's and the mortgage backed securities that they packaged up for resale.  Ratings on AIG were lowered in 2005 and would possibly have been lowered on the GSE's except for their connection to the Government.

Second, S&P defines their credit rating as:
Credit ratings are forward-looking opinions about credit risk. Standard & Poor’s credit ratings express the agency’s opinion about the ability and willingness of an issuer, such as a corporation or state or city government, to meet its financial obligations in full and on time.
It is simply an opinion based on analysis of current and past history that is used by investors to evaluate their future risk of investing in a company.  It does not make policy or endeavor to change behavior of the company.  Although lowering a rating may make it more expensive for that company to borrow. It does not "help bring on the financial crisis", the GSE's and lack of appropriate oversight and control by Congress does that.

In 2005 there was testimony about severe problems found at the GSE's.  How was the testimony received by Congress?
Maxine Waters saying "Through nearly a dozen hearings frankly we were trying to fix something that wasn't broke.  Mr Chairman we do not have a crisis at freddie mac and in particular a fannie mae under the outstanding leadership of Mr. Frank Raines"

So what were the other signs of problems with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac that Congress was overlooking or ignoring for ideological reasons?  These were indications that Congress should have acted, but the progressive mandate, implemented through HUD, was to increase home ownership by poor and moderate income individuals at all costs.  This was the sub-prime market.

Freddie Mac's S&P Report 2006
For fiscal 2005, net income was $2.1 billion, much below the $2.9 billion in net income for 2004. The decline in profitability is primarily due to net fair value losses on derivative not in qualifying hedge accounting relationships, interest expense related to derivatives, and higher cost of funding. Overall, the restated financial results show a greater volatility of earnings due to the GAAP reporting of derivative losses and losses on the guarantee asset for PCs at fair value. These two items significantly lowered GAAP noninterest income for 2005 and 2004. The reading of GAAP earnings does not portray a comparable analysis of core earnings performance given the nonhedge designation of the vast majority of Freddie Mac's derivatives and the fair value changes in the Guarantee Asset and Guarantee Liability. The large jump in GAAP net income in 2001 was due to the large gains on mark-tomarket derivatives that were previously designated hedges under hedge accounting as prescribed by SFAS 133. Going forward, to the extent interest rates change, the asymmetric mark-to-market of derivatives will lead to significant variability of quarterly GAAP earnings, especially in periods of volatile interest rate changes.

Journal of Economic Perspectives—Volume 19, Number 2—Spring 2005—Pages 159–184
Fussing and Fuming over Fannie and Freddie: How Much Smoke, How Much Fire?
W. Scott Frame and Lawrence J. White

In recent testimony before Congress, Federal Reserve Chairman Greenspan
(2004) suggested that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac may pose “systemic risks” to the
U.S. economy. That is, if one of the companies became financially distressed,
enough harm to the overall financial system could be caused such that a nontrivial
reduction in general economic activity would result.11
Because of their special status, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac can issue blanket
credit-loss guarantees on an entire pool of loans as well as avoid the costs of having
their securities rated by rating agencies or registered with the Securities and
Exchange Commission. In contrast, private-label mortgage-backed securities often
have a structure that involves creating different levels of seniority of debt, obtaining
securities ratings from rating agencies like Moody’s or Standard & Poor’s and
registering with the Securities and Exchange Commission—all of which involve
transactions costs.

April 07, 2005|By Kathleen Pender
Last week, scandal-plagued American International Group lost its triple-A credit rating, leaving just seven publicly traded companies in the highest possible categories of Standard & Poor's and Moody's Investors Service, the largest rating agencies. They are Automated Data Processing, Berkshire Hathaway, ExxonMobil, General Electric, Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer and United Parcel Service.

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which guarantee home mortgages, are also rated triple-A, but are in a slightly different category because they owe part of their rating to the perception that the federal government wouldn't allow their debt to go unpaid. If they were to sever their connection with the government, like student loan insurer Sallie Mae did, "I think they would lose their AAA ratings," says Sean Egan, managing director with Egan-Jones Ratings Co.

Jun 20, 2006 FreeRepublic
Sen. Richard Shelby of Alabama, the committee's Republican chairman, will schedule a hearing in the next few weeks to collect testimony on Fannie Mae's $11 billion accounting scandal from credit rating agencies and possibly from Fannie Mae board members, said panel spokesman Andrew Gray.

Standard & Poor's and Fitch Ratings both maintained triple-A senior debt ratings and double-A-minus subordinated debt ratings for Fannie Mae last month after the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight levied a $400 million penalty against the mortgage giant and issued a report revealing an "arrogant and unethical" culture that led Fannie employees to massage earnings to trigger maximum bonuses

Alt A Loans `Disconcerting,' Jumbos Weaker, S&P Says (Update1)
By Jody Shenn - June 26, 2007
June 26 (Bloomberg) -- U.S. homeowners with good credit are increasingly falling behind on mortgage payments, a sign lenders have been offering ``higher risk'' loans outside the so-called subprime market, Standard & Poor's Corp. said today.

Rising late payments and defaults on so-called Alt A mortgages made last year are ``disconcerting'' and delinquent borrowers appear to be ``finding it increasingly difficult to refinance'' or catch up on their payments, S&P analysts said today in a statement. ``Serious'' delinquencies, foreclosures and seized property among ``prime jumbo'' mortgages in bonds from 2006 reached the highest among loans of less than 13 months since at least before 2000, S&P said in a separate report.

Alt A home loans are granted to borrowers with generally good credit scores who opt for unusual loan terms or underwriting standards, such as reduced proof of their pay, without enough offsetting positive attributes.

Word on the Street November 26, 2007, 12:20PM EST
From Standard & Poor's Equity Research
Analyst Actions: Goldman Cuts HSBC to Sell
Plus: Citigroup downgrades some homebuilders and UBS cuts its opinion on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac
From Standard & Poor's Equity Research
Fannie Mae (FNM) and Freddie Mac (FRE) fall after UBS Financial downgrades both stocks to neutral from buy. UBS analyst Eric Wasserstrom says the downgrades are based on his outlook for EPS compression, deriving primarily from credit pressures; the likelihood of further book value (BV) and/or fair value of net assets (FVNA) erosion, particularly at Freddie Mac; and the likelihood that BV/FVNA multiples remain compressed in the medium term.
Wasserstrom notes although the GSEs may be relieved from their 30% capital surcharges in 2008, that will not mitigate immediate term pressures, especially at Freddie Mac. He says Fannie Mae's challenge will be building reserve levels, while at Freddie Mac the challenge is rebuilding capital levels.

So with so many signs, was it really the messengers who "caused" the problem?  The problems existed, were being reported by the ratings reports, by the federal auditors, and by Allan Greenspan before Congress, but some members of Congress were ignoring the signs because it didn't fit with their progressive goals.  Betty McCollum was in Congress at the time, sending letters to then President Bush to ignore the problems. She should be stepping up to work on reducing the debt, instead of verbally shooting the messengers pointing out our looming debt crisis now!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Saint Paul Tea Party Rally 4/16/2011

Annual Tea Party Rally 4/16/2011, Hosted by North Star Tea Party Patriots, and Sue Jeffers, host of the Sue Jeffers Radio Show

The annual Saint Paul Tea Party Rally was held amidst freezing temperatures and snowy State Capital grounds.  One could have hoped for the delightful warm and sunny day we had had a day or two earlier, with temperatures in the 70's, but that was not to be.  A typical Minnesota sudden change in weather.  Despite the temperature, the Tea Party crowd had a warm reception for great lineup of speakers. 

So for those of you who didn't make it, wanted to, or have never been to one, but always wondered what they were about, here are most of the speeches. I still have a couple more to go.

Mitch Berg of http://shotinthedark.info and Radio Host on Northern Alliance Radio Network Hour 2

Twila Brace, http://www.cchfreedom.org/ Citizens' Council for Health Freedom

Barb Davis White, candidate for Minnesota's 5th Congressional District

Ernest Istook, US Congressman, Heritage Foundation, http://www.heritage.org
Part 1 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1SS-3sa3OZQ

Part 2 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jFMxea-O_a0

Bill Whittle,of  http://billwhittle.net/, and http://www.declarationentertainment.com/
Part 1 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YZN5smteuJE

Part 2 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F6Sd1eHSbzU

Mary Amlaw, author of "We Love Our Country" available on Amazon

Monday, April 18, 2011

Obama's Fiscal Folly Speech

I listened to President Obama's speech on Deficit and Debt Reduction several times, trying to come up with the essence of what he was trying to say.  I finally came to the conclusion that the following clip was it.

So his plan, when you take away all the platitude, hyperbole, and demagoguery is that we need to "stop spending in the tax code".  The translation for that is he doesn't want to leave any money on the table in un-gathered taxes.  The only target for that is to demonize the "rich" as thieves who don't pay their fair share.  Here is his statement on "those who benefit most, can afford to pay a little more". He states "everybody pays, but the wealthy bore a little more".

It is difficult to get the exact words, I am not sure even he felt a lot of conviction on that line. First, "Every body pays"?  That is fantasy land, a completely disingenuous statement.  Close to 45% of American households pay no income tax, due to income level in the tax code, or those deductions Obama disdain's.  Do not confuse "payroll tax", your personal payment to the social security system, with the income tax. That is not what is being talked about here by Obama, but he will want to increase that as well.  In fact a lot of that 45-47% that pays no income tax, get tax credits through the income tax system that gives them redistributed wealth.  So they are consumers in the tax code.  Second, "we celebrate their success"?  They are demagogued and slandered at every turn.  I would not want to be in their shoes if we weren't celebrating, it might be more like tar and feathering. Why So Many People Hate the Rich  is explained very well here.
It is despicable, the anti-capitalists complain, that people should be so rich while others are so poor. So they argue that government has to rein in such wealth and impose “social justice.” What they really mean, notes Von Mises, is to give to the frustrated mediocrity “according to his needs.”

This Gallup Poll shows just how much their fellow Americans currently "celebrate" the success of the wealthy
Few Sympathize With Upper-Income Americans, Corporations on Taxes
By contrast, 13% of Americans say upper-income people pay too much and 59% believe they pay too little.

So lets say we do "tax the rich" more.  Let's really sock it to them and take everything, 100%.  The WSJ did that thought experiment
A dominant theme of President Obama's budget speech last Wednesday was that our fiscal problems would vanish if only the wealthiest Americans were asked "to pay a little more." Since he's asking, imagine that instead of proposing to raise the top income tax rate well north of 40%, the President decided to go all the way to 100%.

Let's stipulate that this is a thought experiment, because Democrats don't need any more ideas. But it's still a useful experiment because it exposes the fiscal futility of raising rates on the top 2%, or even the top 5% or 10%, of taxpayers to close the deficit. The mathematical reality is that in the absence of entitlement reform on the Paul Ryan model, Washington will need to soak the middle class—because that's where the big money is.

So to continue this thought experiment a little more, now your employer, the typical small businessman, is broke.  We took everything they make in income.  So he has no reason to work or employ you, even if they had any money to continue the business, which they don’t.  That means you will shortly be unemployed.  So now what do we do?  Next years tax receipts will be very bleak, and practically all of us will be "on the dole" looking for some of that "free Obama money" from his stash.

So how much do the "wealthy" pay compared to the rest of us.

Exactly how much more progressive should it be?  The top 5% are already paying about 60% of the freight for all the others.  It should be obvious we cannot tax our way out of this.  It must be met with real spending cuts, not cuts in the increase like has always been done.  We must remove structural excess that progressives have mistakenly put into our government, and return it to a reasonable constitutional size.

Finally, one of the leading ratings agencies basically just gave Obama a report card on his speech and plan for managing the debt.
Standard & Poor’s issued a stark warning to Washington on Monday, cutting its outlook on US sovereign debt for the first time and throwing more fuel on the raging debate over America’s swollen deficits.

The agency kept America’s credit rating at triple A but for the first time since it started rating US debt 70 years ago, cut its outlook from “stable” to “negative”. A negative outlook means there is a one-third chance of a downgrade in the next two years.
A suitable quote to close with, often atributed to Alexis de Tocqueville, exposes the heart of  "tyranny of the majority"

"A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the majority discovers it can vote itself largess out of the public treasury. After that, the majority always votes for the candidate promising the most benefits with the result the democracy collapses because of the loose fiscal policy ensuing, always to be followed by a dictatorship, then a monarchy."
Well, are we there yet Dad?

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Amy Klohuchar Guiding with a Whip

Amy Klobuchar believes all it takes for technical  advancement is to mandate it.

Udall, Udall, and Klobuchar introduce bill to enact renewable energy standard

Washington, DC – U.S. Senators Tom Udall (D-NM), Mark Udall (D-CO), and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) have introduced legislation that would enact a federal Renewable Energy Standard (RES).
The bill would set the first national threshold for renewable electricity by requiring utilities to generate 25 percent of their electricity from wind, solar geothermal, and other renewable energy sources by 2025. Utilities would be required to provide a certain percentage of their electricity from renewable resources – with a 6-percent requirement by 2013, followed by gradual increases thereafter to meet the goal of 25 percent by 2025.
We have seen this mode of guidance before.  The ethanol programs were the first attempt.  We now have reports of:
Minuses: Ethanol is energy intensive to produce, and the recent boom has pushed corn prices to more than $5 a bushel (from $2 in 2006). That is increasing the cost of everything from beef to soft drinks. The biofuels craze is helping drive up grain prices worldwide as farmers devote more acres to corn and less to other crops. Over 450 pounds of corn are needed to fill a 25-gallon tank with ethanol_ enough calories to feed a person for a year. 
 and this from Yale studies
Thus have biofuels made the slow fade from green to brown. It is a sad irony of the biofuels experience that resource alternatives that seemed farmer-friendly and green have turned out so badly.

 The amount of water used to produce the ethanol is huge, as well as carbon based product required to produce and distill the ethanol.
Since most U.S. ethanol is produced from corn and the required electricity from many distilleries comes mainly from coal plants, there has been considerable debate about how sustainable corn-based bio-ethanol could be in replacing fossil fuels in vehicles.

There are similar pitfalls for the use of air power turbines.  The flicker from light interference and noise pollution contribute to the unintended consequences.  Add to that the inconsistent energy supply, wind doesn't always blow, and we still have to have traditional power plants as backup.

Encouraging technology development for alternative energy systems is a good endeavor.  We will ultimately need them.  However that is better done with a consistent tax policy and research and development incentives.  One of my particular favorites as something that can produce fuel that could be used in our existing fleet of cars is algae based fuels.  We have some very interesting programs for this at the University of Minnesota. and here. While these are very promising, they are still in their infancy and not yet ready for prime time, regardless of mandates.

In the land of unintended consequences, mandating technology developments and forcing ambiguous and ultimately bad choices seems to be a liberals first choice.  Amy Klobuchar and other environmental activist supporters do not have a very good track record for success.  But they are very successful  at spending other peoples money to no good effect.

Pioneer Press Serves up a Traditional "October" Surprise in SD66

Every once in a while I am reminded of why I canceled my subscription to the Pioneer Press.  They may not be in the same league as the Strib, but they too often let their lefty snipers free to distort at least close to the point of what many might consider libel.

A case in point was the article/hit piece by Dave Orrick. 

He takes a fact and then distorts its meaning to unrecognizable status. 

For more details about this read Mitch Berg's blog.

Greg Copeland was forced out of Payne- Phalen District 5 Planning Council, as Orrick related.  But it was because he was a "whistle-blower" and they evidently retaliated.  He was later given an apology and an award for his distinguished community service, and he was re-elected to the board. Mr Orrick should have known this of course, there were articles by the Pioneer Press about firings 6 months later for the "very serious mis-behavior I [Mr. Copeland]brought to the board’s attention as Board President".

Greg was let go from his job as City Manager in Maplewood.  It is an appointed position by the council, which had just changed from an election.  The city auditors report 9 months later credited Greg Copeland for managing the city very well, reducing debt and producing surpluses.

The Pioneer Press had earlier had a comments section on Orrick's hit piece.  They had courageously taken it down at some point.  The end result was, there was no way for corrections to be posted by citizens. And there was certainly no correction coming from Orrick!

Shame on the Pioneer Press, and thanks for reminding me of why I had left you a few years ago, when you had done the same thing to another conservative candidate!  The Democrat's feel they "own" Saint Paul, and this is one of the reasons.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Betty McCollum Barking up the Wrong Tree-Rings

Betty McCollum has recently made news saying "Congress on wrong side of history in denying climate change" in the Hill news blog  
Multiple studies have shown that 97 percent of the most qualified climate scientists are in agreement that humans are causing the planet to warm. If this was an illness, and 97 percent of doctors recommended a certain treatment, we would take appropriate action.
The consequences of developing economic and political policy based on one view of this, a potentially incorrect view, could be disastrous for every individual in the United States. She wants to go down that road, regardless of what it could mean to the economic well being of all her constituents.

What Betty McCollum and others need to keep in mind is the phrase "correlation does not imply causation"   A correlation between CO2 and Temperature is necessary, but not sufficient to prove the case. Especially when the CO2 has been shown to have a 400 year lag after temperature.  There are a lot of very credible reasons to question going down that path.  I will try to show a few in the "Review of Temperature Data" section.  At the end of this article I show a recent study that does a much better job explaining the historical and recent data, and has actual experimental data to try to prove it.

Be aware that there is a cottage industry in attempting to discredit and smear those that the "climate alarmists" call the "climate deniers". So everyone I reference will be found to have some articles on the web "discrediting" them.  Judge for your self.

The first thing one must understand is that there are two issues.  First is what is called anthropomorphic global warming, the idea that CO2 changes [disregarding any natural causes of change, like Volcanos] are caused by man's use of fossil fuels and cause "significant" global temperature changes. Second is the study of natural variation of global temperatures. Forces and effects which would take place regardless of what we do.  There is a lot of very significant controversy between the two positions.
  • How significant is the man-made portion of CO2 versus all the "natural" effects?  
  • Does the global weather system compensate for the CO2 effect? 
  • Has it been warming since the little ice age 18-19th century?
The answer to the last question is an unequivocal YES! And that's where you get the huge "consensus" numbers.  But that may not mean anything really very dramatic.  This interview with George Taylor, Oregon State Climatologist, does a very good job explaining the issues.

If the natural effects, those completely outside our ability to affect, overwhelm the anthropomorphic effects, then wouldn't efforts on our part to correct be insignificant, and potentially a huge waste of resources?

Review of Temperature Data
Here is a chart of temperature since before the Holocene Warming.  This chart shows time frames where the data is even warmer than now.

Never heard of that?  That's because global warming advocates don't really want to talk about it.  It doesn't fit with their message very well.  They typically only show the last 100 years or so, to try to prove their point.  As this Wikipedia does in http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Temperature_record

Newly released FOIA’d emails from Hansen and GISS staffers show disagreement over 1998-1934 U.S. temperature ranking.  Was 1998 or 1934 the warmest year?  That doesn't seem to fit with the NASA plot from Wikipedia.

A Two-Thousand-Year Temperature History of the Extra-Tropical Northern Hemisphere

This new study of Ljungqvist is especially important in that it utilizes, in his words, "a larger number of proxy records than most previous reconstructions," and that it "substantiates an already established history of long-term temperature variability." All of these facts, taken together, clearly demonstrate that there is nothing unusual, nothing unnatural or nothing unprecedented about the planet's current level of warmth, seeing it was just as warm as, or even warmer than, it has been recently during both the Roman and Medieval Warm Periods, when the atmosphere's CO2 concentration was more than 100 ppm less than it is today. And this latter observation, together with the realization that earth's climate naturally transits back and forth between cooler and warmer conditions on a millennial timescale, demonstrates that there is absolutely no need to associate the planet's current level of warmth with its current higher atmospheric CO2 concentration, in clear contradiction of the worn-out climate-alarmist claim that the only way to explain earth's current warmth is to associate it with the greenhouse effect of CO2. That claim -- for which there is no supporting evidence, other than misplaced blind faith in climate models -- is totally bogus.

There have been a lot of articles written about the CRU Climategate and the apparent attempt to hide the MWP (Medieval Warming Period). As here in Yamal and Hide-the-Decline by Steve McIntyre
The controversy in October 2009 was actually the second major CA dispute involving tree ring chronologies from NW Siberia. The earlier criticism was of CRU’s failure to publish an amendment to the prominent Polar Urals chronology (Briffa et al Nature 1995) to show the impact of measurement data that became available subsequent to the original publication (the availability of new data and its value in firming up the Polar Urals chronology timing is referred to in a 1999 email). As reported here, the new data showed a prominent MWP, contradicting Briffa et al 1995 on a cold 11th century.

The "Harry ReadMe file" 
 -- 274 pages long -- describes the efforts of a climatologist/programmer at the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) of the University of East Anglia to update a huge statistical database (11,000 files) of important climate data between 2006 and 2009.

The computer coding, along with the programmer's apparently unsuccessful efforts to complete the project, involve data that are the foundation of the study of climate change --
"In global warming circles, the CRU wields outsize influence: It claims the world's largest temperature data set, and its work and mathematical models were incorporated into the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's 2007 report.
If you really want a fascinating read, go to the "Harry Readme File". One statement that I read in the file, but never saw mentioned elsewhere, was the appearance of numbers documented in the code comments as "fudge factor", that were critical to getting the results used in publications based on the programs and data, but were of complete unknown origin, i.e no one knew where they came from.  If you have an inquiring mind, you really should read this file

Other significant articles are:
Loehle averaged the data for the 18 sites and produced the plot below, with each point representing 30-year centered average temperature (Figure 2). Loehle notes “The data show the Medieval Warm Period (MWP) and Little Ice Age (LIA) quite clearly.” The plot also shows that 20th century warming is apparently dwarfed by events in the past.

China’s 2,000 Year Temperature History

Figure 2. Five regionally coherent temperature reconstructions with 100-year resolution; the dashed line is the part with fewer series used; and the solid line is the mean value. The shaded areas are the two coldest periods, during the 1620s–1710s and 1800s–1860s (from Ge et al., 2010).

David Evans consulted full-time for the Australian Greenhouse Office and writes:
The debate about global warming has reached ridiculous proportions and is full of micro-thin half-truths and misunderstandings. I am a scientist who was on the carbon gravy train, understands the evidence, was once an alarmist, but am now a skeptic. Watching this issue unfold has been amusing but, lately, worrying. This issue is tearing society apart, making fools out of our politicians.

Let's set a few things straight. The whole idea that carbon dioxide is the main cause of the recent global warming is based on a guess that was proved false by empirical evidence during the 1990s. But the gravy train was too big, with too many jobs, industries, trading profits, political careers, and the possibility of world government and total control riding on the outcome. So rather than admit they were wrong, the governments, and their tame climate scientists, now outrageously maintain the fiction that carbon dioxide is a dangerous pollutant.

Recent (last 10 years) research has repeatedly shown that the Climate Models are inexact and potentially very misleading.  They are based on assumptions that have been shown to be limited and flawed.  Key among them is the lack of inclusion of the effects of clouds.

Recent Studies in Alternative and Better Fitting Theories
Henrik Svensmark in a Telegraph article Cosmic rays blamed for global warming
Henrik Svensmark, a weather scientist at the Danish National Space Centre who led the team behind the research, believes that the planet is experiencing a natural period of low cloud cover due to fewer cosmic rays entering the atmosphere.

This, he says, is responsible for much of the global warming we are experiencing.
Henrik Svensmark on Global Warming (part 1) 

Here are links to the rest.  They are well worth watching.
part 2 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l2hckcCDy
part 3 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yv06IyygoUs
part 4 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y87vLJrh2AY
part 5 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6pRmbBsdhNE

Partial Bibliography
Archibald David. " The Past and Future of Climate" (pdf). A presentation to The Lavoisier Group’s 2007 Workshop, "Rehabilitating Carbon Dioxide" held in Melbourne, Australia, on 29-30 June 2007.

Plimer, Ian. "Heaven and Earth. Global Warming: The Missing Science". Conner Court Publishing. Ballan, Victoria, Australia, 2009.

Henrik Svensmark, Nigel Calder, The Chilling Stars A New Theory of Climate Change, 2007

Friday, April 8, 2011

The Budget is Just a Piece of Paper - Reprised

The budget process and the Democratic demagoguery make this a remarkably complex issue.

Back in October of 2010, when the budget and appropriations we are arguing about today was due,  Betty McCollum stated then that the budget was "just a piece of paper".

Prior to the election in November the Democrats held the House, the Senate, and the Presidency, and held it by a wide margin.  The Democrats could have easily produced a budget they were happy with, because the Republicans were completely, totally, out of power.  However the Democrats were not interested in a budget, they never produced a budget, even though it is a Constitutional requirement that Congress produce a budget and appropriations by October 1.

The Federal Budget
The final significant difference between the budget process and the normal legislative process is that there are three distinct stages of federal budget making. First, the Congress passes a Budget which provides the framework for overall federal government taxation and spending for the upcoming year. Then, before any money can be officially appropriated or set aside for a given program or purpose, that program or purpose must be authorized.

United States Senate - The Budget Process
Within six weeks of the President’s budget submission, congressional committees are required to submit their “views and estimates” of spending and revenues within their respective jurisdictions to the House and Senate Budget Committees. These views and estimates, along with information from other sources, is then used by each Budget Committee in drafting and reporting a concurrent resolution on the budget to its respective house.
Although it also does not have the force of law, the budget resolution is a central part of the budget process in Congress. As a concurrent resolution, it represents an agreement between the House and Senate that establishes budget priorities, and defines the parameters for all subsequent budgetary actions. The spending, revenue, and public debt legislation necessary to implement decisions agreed to in the budget resolution are subsequently enacted separately. Discretionary spending,3 in the form of appropriation bills, involves annual actions that must be completed before the beginning of a new fiscal year on October 1.
Section 302(b) of the Budget Act further requires the House and Senate Appropriations Committees to subdivide the amounts allocated to them under the budget resolution among their subcommittees. These suballocations are to be made “as soon as practicable after a concurrent resolution on the budget is agreed to.”

Given the lack of attention paid by the Democratic House in 2010, they simply "passed the buck".  This is the process that Betty McCollum said was just a piece of paper, she stated that the appropriations was the important part "that's law"!  But they didn't even do that! Which puts the entire Democratic plan in clear focus, they don't want to plan, they just want to spend.  That's a guaranteed way for unlimited, unfettered, out of control spending into debt!  They knew they were going to blow way past all debt limits, and just didn't want to be bothered or encumbered during the election.  Now they want to carp and complain as the adults in the room try to manage the finances of the country, instead of continuing a spending spree.

The demagoguery, scapegoating, and hysteria from the left, as the Dem Reps compete for title of Most Hyperbolic Demagogue of 2011 continued:
Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.) who said today that
the new Republicans elected to the House of Representatives last November came to Congress “to kill women.” She also likened Republican efforts to prohibit federal funding of abortion except in cases of rape, incest or where the life of the mother is endangered to actions taken by Nazis.
Harry Reid, Senate Majority Leader  said on the Senate floor Friday morning that
the only issue holding up a budget deal to avert a government shutdown is funding for Planned Parenthood and other organizations that provide women's health services. 

If they are going to use something to demagogue as hurting women, they should at least choose an organization that doesn't actually demonstrate to be failing in that.
The sting operations revealed Planned Parenthood center staffers were willing to provide assistance to alleged operators of a sex trafficking ring — ranging from helping them arrange abortions for the underage girls they said they were victimizing to showing them how to avoid scrutiny and skirt parental involvement laws. The videos covered Planned Parenthood centers in Richmond and also other centers in Roanoke, Charlottesville, and Falls Church. A District of Columbia Planned Parenthood also encouraged and assisted sexual traffickers, as evidenced in an undercover audio file.

This seems to be all a huge Democrat political theater, in hopes they can use the useful idiots in the media to place all the blame on the Republicans.  No services for women were planned on being taken away.  It's just the government doesn't need to pay for them. 

While I wrote this they finally made an agreement.  And as I watch the President make the announcement, it is clear Obama and the Democrats will be taking the credit, where none is due them.  They abrogated their responsibility, they demagogued, and sniped.  Ultimately it was once again the conservatives who compromised and gave up the Planned Parenthood defunding to accomplish what had to be done.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Mary Jo McGuire tried to take away your right to vote for State Judges!

Mary Jo McGuire, a candidate in the upcoming special election in Minnesota SD66, who evidently feels she "owns Saint Paul" since she isn't even campaigning, introduced H.F. No. 1077 , in the 80th Legislative Session (1997-1998).  She  wants to take away your right to elect our Judges.

McGuire was Chief Author in 1997 of HF 1077 which  Proposed  a Constitutional Amendment Requiring that ALL Minnesota Judges To Be APPOINTED by the Governor!

Here are some of the reasons this would be very bad for the people of Saint Paul and Minnesota;

The only way to correct malfeasance in office for judge's is through our election process.  Even with calls such as: State ethics panel calls for judge's suspension
The rare recommendation is for Judge Timothy Blakely, who sent business to a divorce lawyer and got a $63,503 discount.
Led by former Supreme Court Justice Edward Stringer, the panel found “clear and convincing evidence” that Blakely violated judicial rules and codes by accepting a $63,503 markdown on his $108,876 divorce after appointing his attorney many times as a mediator in cases he oversaw.
The high court in September 2009 only censured Blakely for six months without pay. We, the people, removed him through elections in 2010.  Without free elections, he would still be there!

There are a number of other "Real Life examples of judicial abuses"

We want competitive elections for judges so that we the people have accountability.  If the judges are appointed, they have no accountability.  Greg Wersal is also a strong advocate of Minnesota's free election for judge's [link]:
Minnesota Supreme Court candidate Greg Wersal is out to stop what he sees as a serialized chain of appointments and resignations that have robbed Minnesotans of their constitutional right to elect judges.
And if the unaccountability isn't enough to worry about, enter George Soros, who is spending millions to try to stop election of Judges.  Ed Lasky of American Thinker wrote on September 11, 2010 about "Soros' latest gambit"
George Soros,..., funder of influential think tanks (such as the omnipresent Center for American Progress, a group that has become a media mouthpiece), and the grand champion funder of 527 groups nationwide (such as MoveOn.org) has been funding the takeover of one more branch of government: states' judiciary, according to this Washington Post:
"...Colleen Pero, a Michigan judicial activist who wrote Thursday's report, said she combed through tax records from Soros's foundations to identify more than $45 million given within the past decade to advocacy groups dealing with judicial issues."

In the Washington Examiner [link]
Soros' millions are funding Justice at Stake, whose explicit goal is to do away with the election of state judges. JAS wants a "merit system" that would empower "nonpartisan" panels selected by state officials to make judicial appointments.
Of course, if you're worried about special interests dominating judicial elections, the OSI/JAS alternative is even worse. That's because state bar associations and legal groups are dominated by trial lawyers. Lawyers and law firms are the seventh biggest political donors of "all time," according to Opensecrets.org, and dominate state politics in parts of the country.

The judicial system should maintain a necessary degree of impartiality, but America's founders certainly didn't intend for judges to be unmoored from democracy. About 95 percent of America's civil disputes end up in state courts. That's an enormous amount of power, which needs checks and balances. There's a reason why 87 percent of America's judges are elected.
The basic message here is, if you are concerned about our judicial system, and want to keep it close to the people, fee of corruption, and out of the hands of special interest elitists, you need to elect Greg Copeland to SD66!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Soak the Rich!

Yeah, take it from the other guy!  Michael Moore tells us there's lots of money in America, "its just not  in your hands"!  I and a friend were lit dropping and we ran into a woman who said the simple solution to all the districts ill's was to increase taxes on the rich, that fixes everything.  Unfortunately for her the total number of "rich" in the district is a little limited.  Yeah a whopping 53 families who made over $200,000 in the last census of record.  You see there simply aren't enough "rich" to soak to pay for everything to run a rapacious government!

Here is a great expose of the issue, humorous and thoughtful.  Enjoy.

A Tale of Two SD66 Candidates

In the Minnesota SD66 special election we have two candidates, one who stands before you, and one who hasn't. 

Greg Copeland is out trying to meet with the constituents he wants to represent.  He has participated in an interview on MN Capital Conversations (where it became pretty clear Mr. Copeland was the better candidate), and in an interview on Speechless on SCC-TV, being re-broadcast on SPNN (schedule) and CTV15, where you learned first hand about Greg Copeland's plans and commitment to the people in Saint Paul.

Mary Jo McGuire appears to be the most unknown candidate ever to be seen in CD4 and SD66!  As a citizen who is interested in knowing about the candidates and what they stand for before I go to vote (I won't be voting in this election, since I live outside SD66) I always try to do research to find out about them.  Research on Mary Jo McGuire turns up virtually nothing.  I have been able to find a cute but politically meaningless video of her playing with a child -- that's it for video.  The only articles available are basically ones that describe that Mary Jo McGuire is running in the SD66 primary.  The best of the lot was one on MinnPost, which at least told me she had been a legislator and that when her district was redrawn and she had to chose to retire from politics:
"Alice and I had talked about it," McGuire recalled. "We knew it was possible. We'd said we flip a coin. But it was so clear it was mostly Alice's district. Here I had a situation where the two women I most admire — Alice [Hausman] and Mindy [Greiling] — had ended up with my district."
So what does Mary Jo stand for?  What expectations will we have were she to represent SD66?  You, as voters and constituents, are left with only her website to help with that, and perhaps having to read some decade old legislation on the MN Legislature archives.  The single opportunity the voters in SD66 had for discovering anything about her was a LWV "debate", which she ultimately passed on, due to "schedule conflicts". Even though her event calendar only showed phone banking for that day. LWV events are typically a liberally slanted Q&A session, so what is she afraid of?  This is the typical Democrat CD4 candidate procedure.  They feel they "own Saint Paul" and have no responsibilities to address you.  Hopefully she would not be as dismissive of your needs and future as her supporter, and object of her admiration, Alice Hausman was about the University Ave businesses, but we are certainly left with many questions.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Minnesota Light Rail Hearing April 5, 2011

Capital City Business Council (CCBC) Members, Friends, and Coalition Partners,
has set up a hearing with key MN Senators and Representatives at the Capitol.  This is our final opportunity to DEFUND the Central Corridor Light Rail Transit project during the MN State budgeting process. 

Tue, April 5, 2011, 11:00 a.m.
Conference Room 229, Capitol Building
75 Rev Dr Martin Luther King Jr Blvd
Saint Paul, MN

This meeting was arranged by Eva Ng.  Greg Copeland, SD66 candidate, attended to lend support to the small businesses along University Avenue, whose businesses are being destroyed by this project and the mismanagement displayed by the organizations that signed contracts without funding agreements in place.

I arrived late to the hearing, and missed much of the impassioned pleas from the small business owners whose businesses are being destroyed along University Ave.  They commented that the environmental impact statement had stated that there would only be a 2% impact on local businesses during the reconstruction.  That is so far from the truth that one has to wonder how the "study" was done.  Several businesses in a two block area have already closed, with many more sure to follow.  No help of any real significance was prepared to mitigate this disaster for these people who have placed their life saving into their business.  Icons like Porky's have already closed and are being dismantled for memorabilia.

I understand that Democrat Rep. Alice Hausman may have been in attendance for the first few minutes.  I may have missed her appearance this time, but her townhall response still rings loudly as she responded to their pleas that
"the regrettable thing about transportation systems... we know systems of transportation are essential... there are always some who bear the greater burden... one small group is in a sense being asked to bear the greater burden".

The local media was supposed to be in attendance, but none arrived.  You can listen to the discussion and comments made by some legislators, some of the businesses, and Greg Copeland.

Light Rail Meeting 04052011 Part1, Part2, Part3

This has played out with arrogant sounding statements by Democrat policy makers saying "this train has left the station".  These are the same officials who took these actions and signed contracts, without the Federal matching funding in place. It is unclear who will ultimately pay for this folly.  It also leaves one wondering if this wasn't pushed ahead to create a position of "fait accompli", so recent elections at both the state and federal level could not de-rail this train.  It is unlikely we will ever know the motivations behind these actions, because they seem so incongruent.  But the end results will create much distress for the people who live and work along University Avenue.

Special Election Minnesota SD66 April 12, 2011

There is a clear choice for Saint Paul Senate SD66 representation.  Saint Paul has had decades of failure of leadership from Democratic policy makers.  The Saint Paul community has seen changes to high unemployment, crushing property tax, increasing poverty levels, recreation facilities being shutdown, and a vibrant entertainment center (Saint's ballpark) planned to be moved out of the neighborhood to downtown.  Saint Paul neighborhoods need better representation to preserve the character and quality of their communities.

Greg Copeland wants to represent you in the Minnesota Senate. 

Some of his plans include:

Job creation stimulation. Listen to Greg Copeland explain his plans for stimulating job creation.

Property tax freeze. Listen to Greg Copeland explain his plans for implementing a property tax freeze similar to the work he successfully accomplished as a City planner. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dgTZK1nKAek

 Plan on making a positive change to improve your representation on April 12, 2011

Monday, April 4, 2011

A Little Tongue In Cheek Reality Check

This is a video Andrew Klavan: Why Are Conservatives So Mean? I received via facebook.  It makes a very clear, and somewhat humorous, statement that hopefully even the exalted elite could not misunderstand.  However knowing the liberal mindset, I am surrounded by them after all, I remain unconvinced it can make it past the filter of their "world view". I particularly liked the de Tocqueville references.  However my favorite of the quotes attributed to de Tocqueville is:

"The American Republic will endure until the day Congress discovers that it can bribe the public with the public's money."
Alexis de Tocqueville
If you don't think we are there already I am not sure you have been paying attention.  A recent article shows that for March 2011 we spent more than 8 times our national monthly revenue.  Now I don't know how you handle your budget, but at my house we would be way past talking about bankruptcy, even at 2 times my monthly check!
Fortunately the Congressional Budget Committee under Paul Ryan is planning on cutting $4 Trillion over the next 10 years. That may seem like a lot, but when you consider our annual deficit for the last 3 years has been $1, $1.9, and $1.7 trillion, it should become fairly obvious we are still deeply mired on the wrong side of the equation.  Reality has to penetrate our collective conscious soon, or we will all be wondering why the government got so mean when the bottom falls out and the roughly 52.6% (Christian Science Monitor report on analysis by Economist Gary Schilling) who get money from the government, stop getting it.  Maybe it is time to consider pushing back against the spending and working for that balanced budget amendment!

Friday, April 1, 2011

Liberal Ideological Apartheid

This turned into a long post, but its core importance to the continuing ability to have honest debate is crucial. Despite the length I hope you end up appreciating it and get something from it.

Using the term apartheid to describe the current form of liberal thuggery may seem strange, but it has roots in the actual history of apartheid. And has obvious links to the current Wisconsin experiences detailed later. Thomas W. Hazlett article on Apartheid
"The now-defunct apartheid system of South Africa presented a fascinating instance of interest-group competition for political advantage. In light of the extreme human rights abuses stemming from apartheid, it is remarkable that so little attention has been paid to the economic foundations of that torturous social structure. The conventional view is that apartheid was devised by affluent whites to suppress poor blacks. In fact, the system sprang from class warfare and was largely the creation of white workers struggling against both the black majority and white capitalists. Apartheid was born in the political victory of radical white trade unions over both of their rivals. In short, this cruelly oppressive economic system was socialism with a racist face."

We are certainly not talking about the racial face of apartheid, that has no part in this, but following in this tactical tradition seems to be the tactic "du jour", or is that for this decade?  Many of the far left organizations advocate destructive practices against their ideological opponents rather than honest debate. They do not discuss, they practice character assassination. They make loud protestations about conservative "cruelty" and the need to stop "vitriolic speech", but evidently only as a technique to silence the opposition. The liberal establishment (liberal blogosphere, unions, and even the political party) turns around use the same speech and patterns that they decry.

Liberals always say it is the conservative side that practices thuggery. However the examples brought up are always very isolated and limited examples, not wide spread endemic cases. They claim various untruths about the Tea Party, none of which that I have seen have passed muster for reality, merely someone's stated opinion for political advantage about things that cannot be substantiated. It irritates them enormously. However, there are many documented cases of larger scale liberal organizational thuggery.

One example for the DNCC is Sarah Palin's targeted campaign map. I can't imagine anyone has not heard about the uproar made over the simple map Sarah Palin had on her website. It was certainly not novel, it was virtually exactly the same as the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee maps using target symbols on Republicans link. Mark Dayton Gov Minnesota has labeled that classic tool as fitting his definition of vitriolic speech in this histrionic excerpt. Overheated rhetoric like this is only used as tool to silence opposition, and does not really even attempt to stop the psychotic behavior of sick individuals being used as useful idiot's.

We have billionaire George Soros's front groups trying to deny the right for there even to be an opposing voice to the monolithic liberal media link.  Silencing a media organization violates all the principles of freedom, and directly violates the spirit of First Amendment. However, as part of the government, the Obama administration's war on Fox would seem very close to a real violation of that constitutional principle.

Glenn Beck who has many websites and now Media Matters (oh another George Soros front group, is there a pattern here?) hiring a person dedicated to silencing him for no other apparent real and valid reason other than they just don't like him link.  They use the thuggish pattern of targeting him and his sponsors. It is not really evident that Beck is guilty of any more exaggeration or inaccuracies than many others of the liberal realm either. They rail bitterly against his "inaccuracies", but ignore their own. I am sure that this will continue to be a favorite playground for their continued vile protestations about "vitriolic speech", until they either succeed in silencing his voice or give up in failure.

A Pastor get death threats over opposition to Prop 8 Gay Marriage link

Wisconsin Unions double down intimidating local businesses link

Another example of liberal thuggery in Wisconsin  link
From Eyeblast:

According to an eyewitness account:

This video was shot minutes after a union advocate destroyed several petitions at a recall Jim Holperin Rally in Merill, WI. The event was moved to the court house grounds because the private location originally slated to host the event was threatened with arson. It should be noted that police were present when the protestor destroyed these recall petitions, but stated to us that there was nothing they could do about it. The female protestor, who had a young child with her, approached the recall table pretending to be interested in signing the petition, then proceeded to write F— You! She then ripped up other completed petitions before being stopped. Her actions were met with great approval from the rest of the crowd…

Yet another example of liberal thuggery in Wisconsin link
And blogger Ann Althouse -- a Wisconsin law professor who voted for Barack Obama -- received nasty threats for the crime of posting video depicting this thuggish conduct on YouTube: "We will f--- you up," the threateners wrote. This was not the first threat she has received for her blogging.

At the Huffington Post, liberal Lee Stranahan wonders why this kind of thing isn't getting more attention from the traditional media who were tut-tutting over much more minor (and even imaginary) offenses to civility so very recently. "Ignoring the story of these threats is deeply, fundamentally wrong. It's bad, biased journalism that will lead to no possible good outcome and progressives should be leading the charge against it.

"Just before writing this article, I did a Google search and it's stunning to find out that the right-wing media really isn't exaggerating -- proven death threats against politicians are being ignored by the supposedly honest media. If you've never agreed with a single thing that Limbaugh, Bill O'Reilly et al have said about anything, you can't in any good conscience say that they don't have a point here. Death threats are wrong and if a story like Wisconsin is national news for days, then so are death threats."

BigGovernment [ link] sums up 20 Days of Left-Wing Thuggery in Wisconsin: When Will Obama, Democrats, and MSM Call for Civility?

These tactics of thuggery and attempts to silence one side of the argument strike at the heart of our republic. Without the ability to publicly enjoin and express differing opinions we as a nation cannot maintain the liberty our constitution has given us. The predicted encroachment of tyranny expressed by both the federalist (those wanting a strong federal government) and the anti-federalists (who wanted strong constraints and limits on the federal government) will become stronger and ultimately we will lose the liberty we have enjoyed. Unless they learn the lessons of freedom, which currently seems unlikely. The loss of liberty for one faction is really the loss of liberty for all.

I would not particularly agree with Noam Chomsky on much else, but even he states "If we don’t believe in freedom of expression for people we despise, we don’t believe in it at all." So one has to ask, is just "freedom for me but not for thee" that all these liberal organizations believe?

As appropriate and true as Chomsky's statement is, I prefer the writings of Ben Franklin link
"'This sacred Privilege is so essential to free Governments, that the Security of Property, and the Freedom of Speech always go together; and in those wretched Countries where a Man cannot call his Tongue his own, he can scarce call any Thing else his own. Whoever would overthrow the Liberty of a Nation, must begin by subduing the Freeness of Speech; a Thing terrible to Publick Traytors. "

Further in Franklin's "Apology for Printers"
Which PBS wrote about in link
Journalist Walter Isaacson believes that Franklin's success with the Pennsylvania Gazette can be attributed in great part to Franklin's desire to examine more than one side of an issue and to publish different points of view. Isaacson states, "Franklin is one of the first American publishers to understand that freedom of the press and tolerance are part of what it is to be a newspaper editor, and what it is to be a printer. And part of the genius of America is that we're open in our discourse." 
 Spirited and honest debate is a cornerstone of our heritage. Scapegoating and practicing apartheid are not.  Perhaps one day we will give up trying to simply silence political opponents, but it certainly doesn't seem likely soon.