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April 23, 2011

Happy Easter!

Matt Maher is a Christian contemporary music artist who has produced some amazingly good songs recently. Following is part of his Easter message, in which he explains how Jesus' dying on the cross was a very good thing. Please take a minute and watch it.



Matt Maher - "Christ is Risen"


Posted by Tom at 9:15 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

April 12, 2011

Yuri Gagarin and Vostok 1: Fifty Years Later

On April 12, 1961, 27 year old Cosmonaut Yuri Alekseyevich Gagarin climbed into his Vostok 1 capsule for man's first flight into outer space.

His flight would last 1 hour and 48 minutes, during which time he made one orbit of the earth. Although animals had been sent into space, no one was really sure whether a person would function normally, let alone survive. As such, the locked his controls, and the entire flight was controlled from the ground. Gagarin was given the capability of unlocing the the controls, but was instructed only to do so in an emergency.

What an incredibly brave man.


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It is good that we should take time today to remember what he did. It is no contradiction to hold both that the Soviet Union that sent him was an Evil Empire while honoring the man and his mission.


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Off into the unknown, on top of a rocket and in a capsule that we would regard as frighteningly primitive today. Your most basic scientific calculator has more calculating power than everything he and the control center had put together. Worse, it was all done in a rush, as the political pressure to beat the Americans was intense.

While doing my usual database thing at work today I watched a film of Gagarin's trip made by First Orbit:

Today it is 50 years since Yuri Gagarin climbed into his space ship and was launched into space. It took him just 108 minutes to orbit Earth and he returned as the World's very first space man.

To mark this historic flight we have teamed up with the astronauts onboard the International Space Station to film a new view of what Yuri would have seen as he travelled around the planet.

Weaving these new views together with historic voice recordings from Yuri's flight and an original score by composer Philip Sheppard, we have created a spellbinding film to share with people around the World on this historic anniversary.

At 1:39:15, then, the film is almost exactly the same length as Gagarin's flight. Better, the Russian authorities have released the entire transcript of what Gagarin and the controllers said, and this has been incorporated into the film. Set aside some time and watch it.


Posted by Tom at 8:30 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

April 6, 2011

Countdown to a Shutdown?

Here's the analogy; someone who is running up $1,600 a month on their credit cards and refuses to cut out pay-per-view TV, much less their cable/satellite/FIOS subscription, claiming that such services are vital to their health and well being.

That's about the attitude of the Democrats on the federal budget. The "cuts" the Republicans are proposing are miniscule, on the order of cutting out pay-per-view, yet even these are called "draconian" by the left. The Democrats have proposed a few "cuts," which are on the order of eliminating a single cell phone app. Paul Ramirez captures the absurdity of it all in this cartoon:


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The idea that anyone is proposing cuts that add up to any hardship for anyone is absurd on it's face.


Rep Paul Ryan (R-WI-1) explains the problem and what he and his fellow House Republicans intend on doing about it:



Read about his plan, the "A Roadmap to America's Future."

Unsurprisingly, Ryan is Chairman of the House Budget Committee. You can also read the entire GOP budget proposal, called "The Path to Prosperity: Restoring America's Promise House Budget Committee - Fiscal Year 2012 Budget Resolution."

Here are a few quick summaries of Ryan's plan:

Ryan's Budget: By the Numbers
National Review
April 5, 2011
By Andrew Stiles

Paul Ryan's 2012 budget, "The Path to Prosperity," is an impressive document aimed at fostering economic growth and sustainable government. Here are some of the numbers that jump out:

$6.2 trillion -- Amount of spending cuts proposed relative to President Obama's 2012 budget request.

$5.8 trillion -- Amount of spending cuts proposed relative to the current CBO baseline.

2008 -- Ryan's plan would bring non-security discretionary spending to below 2008 levels (pre-stimulus, pre-bailout, pre-Obama).

20 percent -- Target spending levels (as a percentage of GDP).

$4.4 trillion -- Total deficit reduction over 10 years called for under the plan, compared to $4 trillion under Bowles-Simpson and just $1.1 trillion under Obama's 2012 budget.

$4.7 trillion -- Total debt reduction relative to Obama's budget.

$178 billion -- Amount of saving achieved in the Defense Department budget, per the recommendations of Defense Secretary Robert Gates, $100 billion of which would be reinvested, the rest used to reduce the deficit.

$750 billion -- Total savings achieved through Medicaid reform, in the form of block grants to states, giving governors greater flexibility in their budgets.

2022 -- Year that proposed Medicare reforms would take effect.

25 percent -- The top tax rate proposed for both individuals and companies.

18-19 percent -- Target revenue levels (as a percentage of GDP), in keeping with historic average levels.

$800 billion -- Total amount of tax increases eliminated by repealing Obamacare.

1 million -- Private-sector jobs created over the next year.

4 percent -- Projected unemployment rate by 2015.

$1.5 trillion -- Projected growth in real GDP over the next decade.

$1.1 trillion -- Estimate increase in wages over 10 years, yielding an average increase in income of $1,000 per year for each American family.

10 percent -- Proposed reduction to the federal workforce over the next three years.

$120 trillion -- Total debt reduction by 2050 relative to Obama's budget.

On the other side, here's President Obama's ridiculous proposal:

Obama's Spending Spree: By the Numbers
National Review
February 14, 2011
By Andrew Stiles

Here is President Obama's budget for fiscal year 2012 (and outlook through 2021). And here is a look at some of the numbers that stand out:

$3.73 trillion -- total spending this year (25 percent of GDP, highest levels since World War Two).

$46 trillion -- total spending over the next decade.

$8.7 trillion -- total new spending over the same period.

$26.3 trillion -- Total new debt, including entitlement obligations, predicted by 2021.

$7.2 trillion -- Total deficit predicted by the end of the decade.

$1.1 trillion -- How much the White House estimates the proposal will reduce the deficit over the next ten years.

$4 trillion -- How much the president's deficit commission recommended reducing the deficit over the next ten years to avoid financial catastrophe.

$1.6 trillion -- The projected annual deficit for 2011 (11 percent of GDP), up from $1.3 trillion in 2010.

$2 trillion -- Amount the budget will raise taxes on business and upper-income families over the next ten years, which includes letting the Bush-era tax rates expire in 2012 (for incomes $250,000 and up).

$50 billion -- Amount the administration plans to spend this year on infrastructure and transportation "investments."

$30 billion -- Amount dedicated to a "National Infrastructure Bank to invest in projects of regional or national significance to the economy," including the much-touted high-speed rail initiative.

$77.4 billion -- Funding allocated for the Department of Education, a 22 percent increase from 2010 levels, and a 35 percent increase from 2008 levels.

$29.5 billion -- Total spending on the Department of Energy, a 22 percent increase from 2008 levels.

$9.9 billion -- Funding allocated for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), a 30 percent increase from 2008 levels.

$150 billion -- Total amount the White House plans to spend next year on research and development programs.

8.2 percent -- Predicted unemployment rate in 2012.

Zero -- Political risk the president was willing to assume by proposing meaningful reform to entitlement programs. That said, Republicans haven't exactly been willing to stick their necks either, at least not yet.

Stop Blaming Bush

Back to the Title

Sorry if you were expecting a political analysis of whether the Republicans should press for a government shutdown or go for another continuing resolution. I'm somewhat agnostic on strategy. I'm just so appalled by the current situation I feel compelled to lay out again and again just how bad the budgetary situation has gotten.

Over the weekend I was out driving and turned into C-Span radio. I heard Senator Dick Durban (D-IL) talk about the budget talks. The interview had an air of unreality about it; here we are, headed over the cliff, and all we get is the usual demagoguery about how even the most minute cuts will result in untold suffering and misery.

I remember when the entire federal budget was $800 billion or so, and we complained over deficits that weren't over $200 billion. Now we face a deficit of $1.6 trillion out of a federal budget of $3.8 trillion. Yeah I know, there's been some price inflation since then, and GDP has gone up quite a bit too. But as Ryan indicated in his video above the situation is getting worse, not better.

We either get our budgetary situation under control or there will not be another American Century.

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April 5, 2011

It's Not a Scandal if Obama is President

Do you recognize this soldier? If not, don't worry, I don't think most other people have either.

Jamie Morlock Kill Team

Spc. Jeremy Morlock pleaded guilty to three counts of murder and one count each of conspiracy, obstructing justice and illegal drug use in exchange for a maximum sentence of 24 years in prison. Washington Times (AP Photo/U.S. Army)


Bet you have heard of Lynndie England, though:

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The Kill Team
Rolling Stone
March 27, 2011
By Mark Boal

How U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan murdered innocent civilians and mutilated their corpses - and how their officers failed to stop them. Plus: an exclusive look at the war crime photos censored by the Pentagon.

I was going to post a few of the photos on my website, but there's too bad. Hop on over to Rolling Stone if you want to see them

A quick excerpt in the Rolling Stone story:

...The two soldiers, Cpl. Jeremy Morlock and Pfc. Andrew Holmes, saw a young farmer who was working by himself among the spiky shoots. Off in the distance, a few other soldiers stood sentry. But the farmer was the only Afghan in sight. With no one around to witness, the timing was right. And just like that, they picked him for execution.

He was a smooth-faced kid, about 15 years old. Not much younger than they were: Morlock was 21, Holmes was 19. His name, they would later learn, was Gul Mudin, a common name in Afghanistan. He was wearing a little cap and a Western-style green jacket. He held nothing in his hand that could be interpreted as a weapon, not even a shovel. The expression on his face was welcoming. "He was not a threat," Morlock later confessed.
...

After the killing, the soldiers involved in Mudin's death were not disciplined or punished in any way. Emboldened, the platoon went on a shooting spree over the next four months that claimed the lives of at least three more innocent civilians. When the killings finally became public last summer, the Army moved aggressively to frame the incidents as the work of a "rogue unit" operating completely on its own, without the knowledge of its superiors. Military prosecutors swiftly charged five low-ranking soldiers with murder, and the Pentagon clamped down on any information about the killings. Soldiers in Bravo Company were barred from giving interviews, and lawyers for the accused say their clients faced harsh treatment if they spoke to the press, including solitary confinement. No officers were charged.

But a review of internal Army records and investigative files obtained by Rolling Stone, including dozens of interviews with members of Bravo Company compiled by military investigators, indicates that the dozen infantrymen being portrayed as members of a secretive "kill team" were operating out in the open, in plain view of the rest of the company. Far from being clandestine, as the Pentagon has implied, the murders of civilians were common knowledge among the unit and understood to be illegal by "pretty much the whole platoon," according to one soldier who complained about them. Staged killings were an open topic of conversation, and at least one soldier from another battalion in the 3,800-man Stryker Brigade participated in attacks on unarmed civilians. "The platoon has a reputation," a whistle-blower named Pfc. Justin Stoner told the Army Criminal Investigation Command. "They have had a lot of practice staging killings and getting away with it."

There's a lot more, but you get the point.

Howard Poitnoy at Hot Air makes the relevant points:

When the Abu Ghraib scandal broke in 2003, the mainstream media and liberal blogosphere couldn't find enough column inches to express adequately their shock and revulsion. The New York Times alone published 56 stories on the hideous revelation that members of the U.S. Army Reserve had tortured prisoners of war and posed for "trophy pictures"--inexcusable acts that the Times placed squarely at the feet of then-president George W. Bush.

Nor could left-leaning sources conceal their delight when President-elect Barack Obama boldly proclaimed:

[U]nder my administration the United States does not torture. We will abide by the Geneva Conventions. We will uphold our highest ideals.

What a difference a president makes. Until you flash forward to today's bombshell, dropped by the British newspaper The Guardian, noting that members of a self-styled U.S. Army "kill team" posed for photos not with tortured prisoners but with corpses. Of civilians. Whom they had killed.

Former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld is more than a little ticked off. As he told the Washington Times:

TWT: What are your thoughts on the latest kill team photos out of Afghanistan?

DONALD RUMSFELD: If they're the ones that I'm thinking of it's where some... there are some allegations that some soldiers killed some people. You know, I feel such a responsibility as an American that when people are in our custody, we treat them properly. It is always heartbreaking when we see that there are allegations and photographs or suggestions that people have mismanaged that process. And of course the courts will decide in this case. But it is interesting, in the case of Abhu Ghraib, that it was such an important press event and nobody was killed. And in this case, it looks like there are allegations that some people were actually killed.

TWT: How does this stack up against the Abu Ghraib photos, for example?

RUMSFELD: The situation, of course, is much worse if someone dies, but it's a sad thing. It's unfortunate. The overwhelming majority of men and women in uniform are professional. They handle themselves well. They treat people properly in our custody. And no question but that they are punished in the event that the courts and the military commissions under the uniform code of military justice decide that they've done something wrong. They get punished.

I'm not going to say that one scandal is worse than another because they're both bad and that gets into splitting hairs. But Rumsfeld does have a right to be upset at the hypocrisy.

Sure, the scandal isn't President Obama's fault any more than Abu Ghraib was President Bush's but that's the point.

It's all pretty simple, really: Obama is president and they're out to protect him.

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April 4, 2011

Strange Contradictions Over Libya

VDH sees through the nonsense spewed by the administration:

Into the Libyan Labyrinth
National Review
Victor Davis Hanson
April 1, 2011

We should watch for some very strange things in Libya in the days ahead:

(a) Euros bet on the wrong rebel horse, and if Qaddafi survives, he will surely "renegotiate" his massive oil exports to Europe, or perhaps prefer to deal with the Chinese. So Britain, Italy, and France will become increasing panicky and want us to ratchet things up.

(b) Expect to hear less and less about the UN and the Arab League as Obama, to win, needs more and more to ignore their restrictions on using American ground troops and direct bombing of Libya's assets.

(c) Expect the Left to get increasingly antsy as it weighs the viability of Obama's progressive domestic agenda versus their own humiliation at having to keep still and support a preemptive bombing campaign against a Muslim, Arab, oil-exporting nation, without congressional approval, that was not a national-security threat to the U.S. The Left is going to have to accept Obama's rendering inoperative the UN and Arab League restrictions when he inserts some ground troops or orders some Milosevic-like bombing. His supporters also will have to endure the fact that Obama's prior pledges of "turning over" and "toning down" a war that we would supposedly fight neither on the ground nor by sustained aerial bombardment are simply untrue -- and this on top of everything from the now jim-dandy Guantanamo and A-OK renditions.

(d) We are quickly evolving beyond the choices of both a Mogadishu- or Beirut-like clean skedaddle and a 12-year-Iraq-like-no-fly-zone humanitarian mission, and most likely are considering either bombing Qaddafi like crazy or sending in some troops or both.

Bottom line: It is always a dangerous thing for a president to start a war without Congress, without a consistent mission, without a coherent methodology, without a plausible end game, and without a clue who our rebel allies are or just how strong their opponent actually might be -- contingent on a fickle UN, impotent but oil-enthused allies, and a passive-aggressive Arab world, all to prove a point that we could reinvent our military into a humanitarian rescue force, subordinate to international unelected bodies -- and all the more dangerous during the golfing, basketball-playoffs, and resort seasons.

Posted by Tom at 6:45 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

No Objective in Libya

No time for a proper post so this will have to do. Mark Steyn sums up my thoughts on President Obama's confused policy on Libya, however. I wrote about the contradictory statements administration and foreign officials had made a few weeks ago, and unfortunately the situation hasn't gotten any better.

Obama's Missionless War
National Review
Mark Steyn
April 2, 2011

If I recall correctly, we went into Libya -- or, at any rate, over Libya -- to stop the brutal Qaddafi dictatorship killing the Libyan people. And thanks to our efforts a whole new mass movement of freedom-loving democrats now has the opportunity to kill the Libyan people. As the Los Angeles Times reported from Benghazi, these democrats are roaming the city "rousting Libyan blacks and immigrants from sub-Saharan Africa from their homes and holding them for interrogation as suspected mercenaries or government spies." According to the New York Times, "Members of the NATO alliance have sternly warned the rebels in Libya not to attack civilians as they push against the regime of Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi." We dropped bombs on Qaddafi's crowd for attacking civilians, and we're prepared to do the same to you! "The coalition has told the rebels that the fog of war will not shield them from possible bombardment by NATO planes and missiles, just as the regime's forces have been punished."

So, having agreed to be the Libyan Liberation Movement Air Force, we're also happy to serve as the Qaddafi Last-Stand Air Force. Say what you like about Barack Obama, but it's rare to find a leader so impeccably multilateralist he's willing to participate in both sides of a war. It doesn't exactly do much for holding it under budget, but it does ensure that for once we've got a sporting chance of coming out on the winning side. If a coalition plane bombing Qaddafi's forces runs into a coalition plane bombing the rebel forces, are they allowed to open fire on each other? Or would that exceed the U.N. resolution?

Who are these rebels we're simultaneously arming and bombing? Don't worry, the CIA is "gathering intelligence" on them. They should have a clear of who our allies are round about the time Mohammed bin Jihad is firing his Kalashnikov and shouting "Death to the Great Satan!" from the balcony of the presidential palace. But America's commander-in-chief thinks they're pretty sound chaps. "The people that we've met with have been fully vetted," says President Obama. "So we have a clear sense of who they are. And so far they're saying the right things. And most of them are professionals, lawyers, doctors -- people who appear to be credible."

Credible people with credentials -- just like the president! Lawyers, doctors, just like Dr. Ayman al-Zawahiri, al-Qaeda's No. 2. Maybe among their impeccably credentialed ranks is a credible professional eye doctor like Bashar Assad, the London ophthalmologist who made a successful mid-life career change to dictator of Syria. Hillary Rodham Clinton calls young Bashar a "reformer," by which she means presumably that he hasn't (yet) slaughtered as many civilians as his late dad. Assad Sr. killed some 20,000 Syrians at Hama and is said to have pumped hydrogen cyanide through the town: There wasn't a dry eye in the house, as the ophthalmologists say. Baby Assad hasn't done that (yet), so he's a reformer, and we're in favor of those, so we're not arming his rebels.

According to the State Department, Colonel Qaddafi's 27-year-old son, Khamis, is also a "reformer." Or at least he was a few weeks ago, when U.S. officials welcomed him here for a month-long visit, including meetings at NASA and the Air Force Academy, and front-row seats for a lecture by Deepak Chopra entitled "The Soul of Leadership." Ten minutes of which would have me buckling up the Semtex belt and yelling "Allahu Akbar!" but each to his own. It would have been embarrassing had Khamis Qaddafi still been getting the red carpet treatment in the U.S. while his dad was getting the red carpet-bombing treatment over in Tripoli. But fortunately a scheduled trip to West Point on February 21st had to be canceled when young Khamis was obliged to cut short his visit and return to Libya to start shooting large numbers of people in his capacity as the commander of a crack special-forces unit. Maybe he'll be killed by a pilot who showed him round the Air Force Academy. Small world, isn't it?

Meanwhile, the same CIA currently "gathering intelligence" on these jihadist lawyers, doctors, and other allies has apparently been in Libya for some time arming them, according to a top-secret memo on their eyes-only clandestine operation simultaneously leaked by no fewer than four administration officials to the press. A reader suggested to me that they'd misheard the Warren Zevon song "Send Lawyers, Guns And Money," and were sending guns and money to lawyers. And, if some of the guns and money end up in the hands of "al-Qaeda elements," I'm sure Janet Napolitano can have it re-classified as an overseas stimulus bill. In the old days, simpletons like President Bush used to say, "You're either with us or you're with the terrorists." This time round, we're with us and we're with the terrorists, and you can't say fairer than that.

So this isn't your father's war. It's a war with a U.N. resolution and French jets and a Canadian general and the good wishes of the Arab League. It's a war with everything it needs, except a mission. And, if you don't have a mission, it's hard to know when it's accomplished. Secretary Gates insists that regime change is not a goal; President Sarkozy says it is; President Obama's position, insofar as one can pin it down, seems to be that he's not in favor of Qaddafi remaining in power but he isn't necessarily going to do anything to remove him therefrom. According to NBC, Qaddafi was said to be down in the dumps about his prospects until he saw Obama's speech, after which he concluded the guy wasn't serious about getting rid of him, and he perked up. He's certainly not planning on going anywhere. There is an old rule of war that one should always offer an enemy an escape route. Instead, David Cameron, the British prime minister, demanded that Qaddafi be put on trial. So the Colonel is unlikely to trust any offers of exile, and has nothing to lose by staying to the bitter end and killing as many people as possible.

Meanwhile, the turbulence in the Middle East has spread to Syria, Kuwait, Yemen, Jordan, and beyond. In Egypt, an entirely predictable alliance between the army and the Muslim Brotherhood seems to be emerging. The "Arab Spring" turns out to be a bit more complicated than it looks on CNN, and a CIA that failed to see the bankruptcy of its own pension plan looming is unlikely to be a very useful guide to the various forces in play. For the Western powers to be bogged down in the least consequential Arab dictatorship's low-grade civil war desultorily providing air support to incompetent al-Qaeda sympathizers may be an artful if expensive piece of misdirection.

Either that, or we haven't got a clue what we're doing.

Posted by Tom at 6:30 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 2, 2011

"Smart Meters" are Enviromental Totalitarianism

Not being happy telling you what type of light bulbs to use and what type of car you have to drive, the envirocrazies also want to control the temperature in your house. They think you're stupid, they're smart, and how dare you object.

This letter to the editor appeared in last Monday's Washington Times and is typical of that sort of thinking:

The United States has always been a country that embraces technological change, but perhaps The Washington Times didn't get the memo ("Smart meters are a dumb idea," Comment & Analysis, March 18).

The smart grid transition now under way will provide positive new choices for our homes and businesses. While some have jumped to conclusions, the reality is that the transition is essential to manage our changing energy needs, a competitive global economy and an information-hungry population.

Our utility systems are just like any other piece of infrastructure: They need to be upgraded to improve safety, reliability and choice. This is like moving from telegrams to smartphones. Our utility system is finally moving into the 21st century and bringing with it an array of benefits, efficiencies and new consumer capabilities.

California utilities launched meter rollouts without adequate customer education, but the hysteria about "skyrocketing" bills is based on misinformation. The California Public Utilities Commission confirmed the meters operate and bill accurately. Some critics worry about privacy - the same concerns people had about the Internet, mobile phones, GPS and other technology rollouts. But the tech industry has been vigilant in developing safe and secure products. Just as the private sector worked with government to develop Internet protocols, the same process is under way with technology experts at the forefront in developing cybersecurity, interoperability and privacy measures for the smart grid.

The smart grid transition also means billions of dollars in private-sector investment. When did job creation, informed buyers, global competitiveness, entrepreneurial startups and customer service become negatives?

The smart grid is the key to growth for U.S. technology companies, the means to achieve environmental goals at a manageable cost, and the path for consumer empowerment. It's time to cut through the hysteria and hyperbole and embrace our role as the world's leader in this wave of innovation.

PHIL BOND

Get it? They're smart, you're stupid, and if you object you need to be educated. Anyone who objects is spreading "misinformation;" they can't possibly just have another point of view.

So What is the Problem with "Smart Meters?"

From the Washington Times editorial Mr Bond is complaining about:

Smart meters also give the highly regulated utilities the ability to adjust and restrict the flow of electricity to customers. Some residents are wary that the ability to measure their energy consumption could be used to create a profile of their activities. Patterns of garage door opening, for example, could indicate when a home is empty and unprotected from burglary. In California and Texas, other consumers have seen their electric bills rise rather than fall after smart meter installation, belying the promise of savings. Energy audits have discovered some meters are defective, leaving utilities red-faced and offering refunds. The California Public Utilities Commission on March 10 ordered PG&E to come up with ways for customers to opt out of the meters and Maine's Office of the Public Advocate on Tuesday chastised Central Maine Power for "bullying and intimidating" customers who don't want the devices.

On the one hand, the administration is agitated over "cybersecurity." On the other, it is creating a network that would allow malefactors to shut down air conditioners in the midst of a scorching summer day. Those malefactors might even work for the government. Obama energy czar Carol Browner told U.S. News & World Report last year, "We need to make sure that ... eventually we can get to a system where an electric company will be able to hold back some of the power so that maybe your air conditioner won't operate at its peak."

So there it is, folks, straight from the horse's mouth. Ms Browner herself admits that the purpose of these meters is to shut down your air conditioning if they think you're using too much.

Here is the USN&WR article if you want to check her quote for context. Go ahead and look, you'll see it doesn't change anything.

Now, I'm well aware that liberals consider it a myth that they will use these meters to control the electricity to your house and that oh no it's just an innocent program that will make energy use more efficient. Knowing the left like I do I don't buy that argument for a second, as the enviro left is all about control of your life down to the most minute detail.

The Suspicious Language

Here is the relevant language from section 112(c) of the California Energy Commission's proposal mandating use of these devices:

Emergency Events. Upon receiving an emergency signal, the PCT shall respond to commands contained in the emergency signal, including changing the setpoint by any number of degrees or to a specific temperature setpoint. The PCT shall not allow customer changes to thermostat settings during emergency events.

So what counts as an emergency and who gets to decide? It all starts out so innocent, but once these meters in place the enviros will get other ideas. Especially since....

A Shortage of Power?

...in the wake of the near-disaster at Japan's Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant the enviros will stop us from building any more of them, no matter how safe the new designs. Enviros are also against coal and oil because you can never make the emissions safe enough for them. There are no real emissions from burning natural gas... except for carbon dioxide, which they have now decided is a pollutant. There are no more viable sites for hydroelectric plants, and the enviros don't like dams anyway.

This leaves wind, solar, geothermal, and the supposed "renewables." The first three are outright jokes, and the latter will only help in a limited fashion.

So unless something changes, we could be facing a shortage of electricity in the near future. And if those "smart meters" have already been installed, the temptation to use them to scale-back energy usage will be irresistible.

Bad Economics

Mr. Bond's letter also typifies the enviros misunderstanding of basic economics. He claims that "the smart grid transition also means billions of dollars in private-sector investment." But this is simply the broken window theory of economics stated in a slightly more sophisticated way. Every dollar spent changing our thermostats is a dollar not spent somewhere else. Yes, if you have to spend money to replace your thermostat you'll give someone a job. But that money you spent to replace your thermostat is money that you could have spent at the store on a new suit, and so the tailor will see a reduction in revenues.

I hear conservatives do this sometimes with regard to the military. They'll claim that some weapons program provides jobs. But again, every dollar spent building that weapon is one more dollar taxed out of your pocket that could have been spent on something else. Further, that weapon doesn't produce anything itself, whereas at least a bridge provides a transportation solution.

If you think we need "smart meters," fine. But do yourself a favor and base your argument on environmental grounds, not fake economic ones.

I know, I know

Because I'm against so-called smart meters I am against all regulation, I don't care about pollution, yada yada yada. I've gotten that sort of comment after these posts and they're tiresome.

I like the new energy-saver light bulbs and will replace the existing ones in my house when they burn out. But don't pass a law telling me I have to use them because I'll object and seek to have you thrown out of office.

Likewise, if you want a so-called smart meter at your house fine, put one in. But don't tell me I have to have one because I will fight you on it.

And if I want to drive a big, energy inefficient car (which I don't) that's my right and I object to your CAFE regulations.

This is not like smokestack emissions where regulations are needed. These are legitimately in the arena of public choice and the enviros should keep their hands off.

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