Archive for November, 2009

Obama’s Cabinet: This graph explains a lot

Still catching up from the holidays…

Nick Schulz at the American Enterprise Institute’s blog presents this graph:

obamacabinet

I don’t think it will shock anyone that the top people in Democratic administrations tend to have less private-sector experience than their GOP counterparts. Yet the previous low-water mark for private-sector experience since 1900, the JFK administration, was still three times higher than the Obama Cabinet’s level.

Here’s what makes this background information about the Obama team even more interesting:

As Schulz notes, “public sector employment has ranged since the 1950s at between 15 percent and 19 percent of the population,” yet the Obama Cabinet got more than 90 percent of its prior experience in this relatively thin slice of America. So, the current Cabinet largely lacks a practical understanding of the country and companies which it now regulates — understanding that might come in handy now that our government is more enmeshed than ever with banks and auto …

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The politics of ‘trust us’ is wearing thin

We’ve reached a moment of truth for the climate-change debate, which is a good thing since “the truth” is what everyone has been screaming about all along.

Last week, someone released thousands of emails and other documents from the highly influential Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia in England. I say “someone released” because it’s unclear whether the deed was done by an outside hacker, an inside whistleblower or someone else.

In any case, the contents are staggering.

Now on display are the scientists’ apparent attempts to manipulate climate data to fit their narrative of an ever warming planet. So, too, are their schemes to withhold and even delete documents sought under Freedom of Information laws, as well as to prevent contrarian researchers from publishing work in scientific journals and United Nations climate-change reports.

Then there’s the plainly incoherent climate data at the heart of their work, as described by the poor computer programmer …

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Giving thanks for my better half

When the family holds hands around the table Thursday to say grace and give thanks, the hand I’ll squeeze for emphasis belongs to my wife. This year, more than ever, I am most thankful for her.

This has been a whirlwind of a year for us:

We welcomed our first child in January; I applied for this job in February and landed it in March; we said goodbye to dear friends and moved back across the Atlantic in April; I started at the AJC in May; we looked for a new house through June and bought one in July; we spent August and September fixing it up and moved into it in October.

We hoped and prayed for each of these things to happen (OK, maybe not the home repairs). I wouldn’t dare call 2009 a year of any hardship; quite the opposite. But I don’t think I would advise anyone to attempt so much change in such a short time. As blessed as we’ve been each step of the way, part of me longs for 2010, and some calm.

With so much upside-down, the one constant has been Emily.

As harried as I …

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On pilgrims and progress

I’ll have some personal thoughts about what I’m thankful for coming out later this evening, as will Cynthia, Jay, Jim and Mike. But I also wanted to link to two of my favorite Thanksgiving articles:

The Desolate Wilderness

And the Fair Land

These timeless editorials appear annually in The Wall Street Journal, and for my money they communicate where we’ve been, where we are, and where we’re going better than any holiday-themed writings out there.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.

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More on those climate emails

Complete with a new name: Climaquiddick.

To get up to speed if you haven’t been following this story closely, here’s my post on it yesterday. Short version: A large batch of data from one of the world’s leading climate science centers was released on the Internet last week; this includes thousands of emails and other documents that reveal scientists at the center — people who have been intimately involved in the reports of the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change — may have been manipulating their data, and certainly intended to foil Freedom of Information requests and keep contrarian researchers out of peer-review journals if possible.

The focus on the story has turned from the emails the scientists exchanged to the computer code their center was using to produce its data sets, which have been an integral part of the IPCC’s reports. Declan McCullagh at CBS News reports some of the findings so far:

One programmer highlighted the error of relying on …

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About that Census worker? The one the ‘angry mob’ must have killed?

Never mind:

FRANKFORT — A U.S. Census worker found dead in a secluded Clay County [Kentucky] cemetery killed himself but tried to make the death look like a homicide, authorities have concluded.

Bill Sparkman, 51, of London, might have tried to cover the manner of his death to preserve payments under two life-insurance polices that he had taken out. The policies wouldn’t pay off if Sparkman committed suicide, state police Capt. Lisa Rudzinski said.

(snip)

Sparkman’s nude body was found Sept. 12 by people visiting the cemetery. There was a rope around his neck tied to a tree, and he had what appeared to be the word “fed” written on his chest in black marker.

His census identification card was taped to his head.

The bizarre details of the death caused a firestorm of media coverage and widespread speculation on the Internet, including that someone angry at the federal government attacked Sparkman as he went door to door, gathering census information.

There has been some …

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On the Climategate emails

Doubts about how much humans are contributing to changes in the climate have had an increasing number of things in their favor: a leveling off and even cooling of global temperatures over the past decade; the fact that Anthropogenic Global Warming theory (AGW) doesn’t account fully for a number of natural effects on the climate; admissions that the likes of Al Gore have trumped up the potential consequences of global warming in order to gain public attention; serious questions about the accuracy of the data that AGW proponents cite, and the scientific rigor with which the data have been collected.

What was missing was a paper trail indicating that warmists were manipulating the exchange of information and attempting to silence skeptics. Until now.

The recent release of several dozen megabytes of information from the Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia has struck a huge blow against the politics, and perhaps the science, of AGW. It’s unclear whether these …

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The Michiganization of America

This is a remarkable slide show depicting the growth of unemployment in the U.S. in just two and a half years. In January 2007, before the credit and financial crises and the subsequent recession, the counties in purple or black — representing unemployment of 7 percent or more — were restricted to a handful of states.

Move forward to September of this year, and the whole map looks bruised.

I don’t intend this as a “blame Obama” post. The recession and the rise in unemployment started before he took office. But even “Saturday Night Live” understands that what the administration has been trying so far — namely, spending more money and piling up even more debt that will have to be repaid — isn’t working.

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Georgia can’t afford its share of ObamaCare

Back in July, Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen warned that his fellow Democrats’ health proposals would not only come with a trillion-dollar federal price tag. They would also represent “the mother of all unfunded mandates” for the states.

Now that the House has passed one health bill and the Senate Finance Committee another, Georgia’s number crunchers have estimated just how unfunded it would be for our state.

The answer: as much as $2.6 billion before 2020.

Two-point-six billion dollars, and in only five full years of spending. That’s under the bill passed in the House. The annual sum under that legislation would exceed half a billion dollars by 2019. (These and all other figures in this column, unless otherwise noted, come from the Department of Community Health.)

The Senate Finance Committee’s version would be little better: just over $2 billion cumulatively, and more than $400 million a year by 2019.

These figures represent only the state’s share of adding as many as 756,000 …

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From the good news, bad news file

The bad news: Of the nation’s 40 largest metropolitan areas, Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Marietta ranks as only the 23rd safest (or 18th most dangerous, if you prefer that approach) according to this list on Forbes.com.

The good news, from a regional competitiveness perspective: Of these 40 metro areas, eight are in what I’d call the Southeast…and Atlanta is the safest of these eight.

The details:

Atlanta is middle-of-the-road out of the 40 areas when it comes to violent crime or workplace fatalities. (In this scale, 40 is worst and 1 is best.) Detroit’s having the most violent crime isn’t all that surprising, but Indianapolis worst for workplace fatalities? Are there any Hoosiers here who can explain that?

Our worst score comes on traffic death rates, where we’re ninth most dangerous — but, again, ahead of most of our Southeastern peers. That includes Orlando-Kissimmee (most dangerous roads out of the 40) Jacksonville (second), Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater (third) and Miami-Fort …

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