Monthly Archives: July 2011

10 years after concealed weapons law, the fearful claims of opponents turn out false

Ten years after the passage of concealed carry laws, the fearful claims of opponents are proven false.

During the debate, opponents of the change warned of gun-toting, trigger-happy citizens loose on the streets. But violent crimes have been rare among carrying a concealed weapon license holders. Only 2% of license holders have been sanctioned for any kind of misbehavior, State Police records show.

Not that the facts matter to these anti-gun advocates:

Still, anti-gun activists say changing the law was a grave mistake. The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence Web site describes state reforms like the one enacted in Michigan as “a recipe for disaster.”

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Outlines of debt ceiling deal leaked to press

The outlines of a possible debt ceiling deal have been leaked to the press. No tax increases, and a lot of promised cuts, some real but many that are probably likely not to happen.

If true, this deal will represent a victory for the Republicans, despite what appear to be the weak nature of the cuts. And John Podhoretz explains why in a very cogent column today, using the Cold War as an analogy.

Everyone on the Right agrees that the U.S. is on an unsustainable fiscal path that must be altered. The difference comes down to the acceptance of political realities. Just as the United States could not effect rollback in the late 1940s (or any time thereafter), so too the Right and the Republican Party cannot effect a revolutionary change of course on July 31, 2011 with the Senate and the White House in liberal Democratic hands. The strategy, like containment, must have a longer time horizon, though it has the same goal: Ending the entitlement state before it swallows up the rest of the country.

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John Marburger: The passing of a scientific gentleman

Guest post by Phil Berardelli

John H. Marburger III, former science adviser to President George W. Bush and head of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, died this past week from non-Hodgkins lymphoma. He was 70.

Just about every news article reporting the death describes Dr. Marburger, a physicist and former head of the Brookhaven National Laboratory, as a controversial figure. This article, for instance, in The New York Times, said the following about Marburger:

In a critical editorial in April 2004, The New York Times, addressing accusations that the Bush administration had distorted or suppressed scientific information that would conflict with its policy preferences, acknowledged the respect Dr. Marburger commanded, calling him “a respected physicist and lifelong Democrat who would not seem an automatic apologist for this administration.” But it added, “The question yet to be answered is whether he is speaking from conviction when he claims that the critics are off base or is serving as a frontman for an administration whose activities in this area are sometimes hard to defend.”

Apparently, because Marburger — a Democrat and one of the longest-serving members of the administration — supported some of the positions espoused by the Bush White House, that made him controversial. But in my 40 years as a journalist and 15 years of covering science, I can’t think of a person I encountered who was more earnest and straightforward.
» Read more

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Senate kills Boehner debt ceiling plan

That didn’t take long: The Senate has killed the Boehner debt ceiling plan that passed the House.

What the Democrats are missing in all this is that if no debt limit extension is passed, it is their beloved programs that will be hurt the most. The Republicans have more or less always preferred limiting government, so imposing the debt ceiling will only serve their purposes.

Thus, it is the Democrats who need the debt ceiling extended more than anyone. That they seem unwilling to agree to any deal or even propose one of their own seems the height of stupidity. Talk about cutting off one’s nose to spite one’s face!

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How High Would Taxes Have to Be to Close the Budget Gap This Year?

How high would taxes have to be to close the budget gap this year? One blogger took a look:

I decided to look at the IRS data and calculate exactly how high would the tax rates have to be close this year’s budget gap of around $1.6 trillion (it’s $1.65 trillion according to the White House and $1.55 trillion according to the CBO). What I found was certainly not surprising but still quite disturbing.

Take a look yourself. It is very clear that increased taxes cannot solve the debt problem. It can’t even make a dent in it.

In other words, those advocating a “balanced approach” are really only avoiding the problem. In order to get the federal budget under control we have to cut spending. Nor should that be hard, considering that the federal budget has literally doubled since 1999. If we simply went back to 2000 numbers we’d almost certainly have a surplus, and no one would die nor would the world end.

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Tea Party Members ‘Bloody and Beaten,’ But Still in ‘No’ Column

Tea party members still in the no column.

The debt ceiling situation is really very simple. The Democrats won’t propose anything, nor will they vote for anything that cuts anything. And a large percentage of the new Republicans elected to office in November won’t vote for anything that doesn’t include real and significant cuts. The result is there simply aren’t enough votes to pass a bill. This might change, but based on what I’m reading I suspect that come next week, the federal government will have to find a way to live within its means. And I think that will be a good thing, despite the short term pain it will certainly cause to us all.

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A problem like Pelosi

A problem like Pelosi.

Nancy Pelosi said the following about Republicans: “They don’t just want to make cuts. They want to destroy. They want to destroy food safety, clean air, clean water, the Department of Education. They want to destroy your rights.”

I want to ask you: How do you do business with someone like that? How do you do business with a party like that? “They want to destroy”? (I’ll grant that we think the Department of Education a total boondoggle.) “They want to destroy your rights”? I’m reminded of why I revolted against the Democratic party long ago: They all talked like this. They all regarded their opponents as monstrous or subhuman. And I knew it was bunk.

And in a related note: Democrats — with no bill of their own — point accusing finger at Republicans.

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The Painted Desert of Mars

Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter released this picture yesterday of what the Orbiter’s scientists have labeled “The crazy floor of Hellas Basin.” Below you can see a cropped image of only one part of the large higher resolution image. The NASA caption says that the wild colors probably “indicate that diverse minerals are present,” meaning that any settlers of the red planet will probably take a close look at this location with the reasonable hope of finding the resources they need to colonize a planet.

To me, these colors also indicate that this place on Mars would probably one of its most popular tourist spots. As I look at the image my eye instinctively wants to trace out the best trail route along the ridges and down into the gullies in order to give hikers the best view of this colorful terrain.

Hellas Basin

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A dark and stormy night, 2011

The 2011 winners in the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest have been announced, given to the writer who comes up with the worst opening sentence for an imaginary novel. This winner in the purple prose category is my favorite:

As his small boat scudded before a brisk breeze under a sapphire sky dappled with cerulean clouds with indigo bases, through cobalt seas that deepened to navy nearer the boat and faded to azure at the horizon, Ian was at a loss as to why he felt blue.

Go here to see all the winners.

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Senate Issues Subpoena to NASA for SLS Materials

The space war over NASA continues: The Senate has issued a subpoena to NASA, demanding documents related to its plans for building the Congressionally-designed Space Launch System (SLS), what I like to call the-program-formerly-called-Constellation.

In related news, NASAspaceflight.com reports that those NASA documents state that the agency’s plans for building SLS will take 21 years (!), with the first flight not taking place until 2032.

No wonder NASA has stalled releasing these documents. Nor am I surprised. Based on the budget that Congress gave the agency, it is literally impossible for NASA to build this rocket any faster. And at that rate, no one should be surprised if it never gets built at all. Far better to cancel it now and save the taxpayers the money.

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New NASA Data Blow Gaping Hole In Global Warming Alarmism

The headline says it all: New NASA data blow gaping hole in global warming alarmism.

Scientists on all sides of the global warming debate are in general agreement about how much heat is being directly trapped by human emissions of carbon dioxide (the answer is “not much”). However, the single most important issue in the global warming debate is whether carbon dioxide emissions will indirectly trap far more heat by causing large increases in atmospheric humidity and cirrus clouds. Alarmist computer models assume human carbon dioxide emissions indirectly cause substantial increases in atmospheric humidity and cirrus clouds (each of which are very effective at trapping heat), but real-world data have long shown that carbon dioxide emissions are not causing as much atmospheric humidity and cirrus clouds as the alarmist computer models have predicted.

The new NASA Terra satellite data are consistent with long-term NOAA and NASA data indicating atmospheric humidity and cirrus clouds are not increasing in the manner predicted by alarmist computer models. The Terra satellite data also support data collected by NASA’s ERBS satellite showing far more longwave radiation (and thus, heat) escaped into space between 1985 and 1999 than alarmist computer models had predicted. Together, the NASA ERBS and Terra satellite data show that for 25 years and counting, carbon dioxide emissions have directly and indirectly trapped far less heat than alarmist computer models have predicted. [emphasis mine]

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Astronomers identify Earth’s first Trojan asteroid

Astronomers have spotted the first Trojan asteroid to the Earth.

The asteroid is roughly 1,000 feet (300 meters) in diameter. It has an unusual orbit that traces a complex motion near a stable point in the plane of Earth’s orbit, although the asteroid also moves above and below the plane. The object is about 50 million miles (80 million kilometers) from Earth. The asteroid’s orbit is well-defined and for at least the next 100 years, it will not come closer to Earth than 15 million miles (24 million kilometers).

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