Politics

The “ Emoluments” Gambit

A liberal group called Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington has filed suit alleging that President Donald Trump began violating the “emoluments clause” of the U.S. Constitution the moment he took office because the businesses that bear his name are surely receiving some money from foreign governments, even though he has relinquished management control and elected to donate foreign profits at Trump owned hotels to the U.S. Treasury. The group is also promoting the claim that this “violation” is grounds for impeachment.

The Emolument clause of the Constitution says: “No Title of Nobility shall be granted by the United States: And no Person holding any Office of Profit or Trust under them, shall, without the Consent of the Congress, accept of any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State.” (Article I, Section 9, Clause 8).

This allegation is without merit and is designed, in my opinion, as a gambit to stir up the leftists.

Fox News notes: “The plaintiffs claim President Donald Trump began violating the “emoluments clause” of the U.S. Constitution the moment he took office because the businesses that bear his name are surely receiving some money from foreign governments, even though he has relinquished management control and elected to donate foreign profits at Trump owned hotels to the U.S. Treasury. Forget that the revenue derives directly from his businesses, not his high office. The lawsuit is pure legal folly because the U.S. Supreme Court has repeatedly ruled that these kinds of circumstances do not violate the Constitutional emoluments prohibition. ..Ordinary business transactions are not emoluments. There must be a nexus between the payment and the office. An emolument arises when a pecuniary profit is derived from a discharge of the duties of the office.” (Hoyt v. United States, 51 U.S. 109)

Black’s Law Dictionary defines the term emolument as, “Any advantage, profit, or gain received as a result of one’s holding of office.” The original Webster’s Dictionary defines it as, “profit arising from office.” The Oxford English Dictionary offers a near identical definition. None of these interpretations apply to President Donald Trump nor the many businesses that pre-date his

presidency. Any payments to his Trump Organization do not arise from his holding the office he just assumed days ago. To the contrary, any realized profit emanates from his businesses, not his presidency.

LawNewz notes: “”The so-called emoluments clause has never been interpreted to apply to fair value exchanges that have absolutely nothing to do with an office holder. No one would have thought, when the Constitution was written, that paying your hotel bill was an emolument instead it would have been considered a value for value exchange… not a gift.. not a title, not an emolument…,even though Trump doesn’t have to– he is going to voluntarily donate all profits from foreign government payments made to his hotels to the United States Treasury.”

The threat of impeachment is hollow because at any time Congress could retroactively grant permission for Trump’s businesses to act as they always have. Also, to forward a bill of impeachment requires a majority vote in the House of Representatives. No likely.

Bill and Hillary get a pass from liberals on this question.

The Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington and similar groups were unconcerned when Hillary was Secretary of State (2009-2013) and Bill Clinton was receiving millions of dollars as “speaking fees” and “donations” to the Clinton Foundation.

During Hillary Clinton’s four years at the State Department, her husband was paid $47.7 million in speaking fees. As critics have noted, most of his highest paid speeches were given abroad between 2009 and 2013. (Source)

According to documents obtained by Judicial Watch in an ongoing Freedom of Information Act case, State Department officials charged with reviewing Bill Clinton’s proposed speeches did not object to a single one. Some of the speeches were delivered in global hotspots like Saudi Arabia, and were paid for by entities with business or policy interests in the U.S. (Source)

During Hillary Clinton’s time at the State Department, Bill Clinton also gave four speeches in the United Arab Emirates, earning $1.1 million. For two speeches in Egypt, he earned $425,000.

UAE-linked entities also have donated at least $2.7 to $11.5 million to the Clinton Foundation, and Egyptian entities have donated at least $250,000 to $750,000. (Source)

In my opinion, these liberal lawyers are gaming the system for political gain.

For a brief history of the Emolument Clause, see this article from the Heritage Foundation.

Throwing money at schools still fails to improve education

In his inauguration speech Donald Trump claimed that we have “…an education system flush with cash, but which leaves our young and beautiful students deprived of all knowledge.”

The statement contains hyperbole, but it is not far off the mark.

A January, 2017, report from the Department of Education assesses the result of throwing money at schools:

In response to the recession that began in 2007, the U.S. Congress passed, and President Barack Obama signed into law, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (Pub. Law 111-5). At an estimated cost of $831 billion, this economic stimulus package sought to save and create jobs, provide temporary relief to those adversely affected by the recession, and invest in education, health, infrastructure, and renewable energy. States and school districts received $100 billion to secure teachers’ jobs and promote innovation in schools. This funding included $3 billion for School Improvement Grants (SIG), one of the Obama administration’s signature programs and one of the largest federal government investments in an education grant program. The SIG program awarded grants to states that agreed to implement one of four school intervention models—transformation, turnaround, restart, or closure—in their lowest-performing schools. Each of the models prescribed specific practices designed to improve student outcomes, including outcomes for high-need students such as English language learners (ELLs) (U.S. Department of Education 2010a).

Although SIG was first authorized in 2001, this evaluation focused on SIG awards granted in 2010, when roughly $3.5 billion in SIG awards were made to 50 states and the District of Columbia, $3 billion of which came from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

Basic finding from Department of Education study:

Overall, across all grades, we found that implementing any SIG-funded model had no significant impacts on math or reading test scores, high school graduation, or college enrollment. (Read 419-page report from the Department of Education )

Perhaps we should get back to basics.

See also:

State Educational Trends, spending versus results

Political Correctness is why trump won

People just got fed up with all the political correctness nonsense. Most of this nonsense is perpetrated by liberals who strive to avoid offending anyone but wind up offending many people.

Walter Williams: “Whether you are a liberal or conservative, Democrat or Republican, you should be disturbed and frightened for the future of our nation based on the response of so many of our young people to an election outcome. We should also be disturbed by college administrators and professors who sanction the coddling of our youth.”

Trump and College Chaos

by Walter E. Williams

If one needed more evidence of the steep decay in academia, Donald Trump’s victory provided it. Let’s begin by examining the responses to his win, not only among our wet-behind-the-ears college students, many of whom act like kindergarteners, but also among college professors and administrators.

The University of Michigan’s distressed students were provided with Play-Doh and coloring books, as they sought comfort and distraction. A University of Michigan professor postponed an exam after many students complained about their “serious stress” over the election results. Cornell University held a campuswide “cry-in,” with officials handing out tissues and hot chocolate. Read more

Here are some recent examples of political correctness excesses:

University of Wisconsin to Offer Class on ‘The Problem of Whiteness’

The University of Wisconsin-Madison will offer a spring semester class examining “the problem of whiteness” and “what it means to be #woke,” Campus Reform reports.

The course is being offered by the university’s African Cultural Studies department. According to an online description, students will be asked to examine “what it really means to be white,” and consider “how race is experienced by white people” in the United States and abroad.

“Critical Whiteness Studies aims to understand how whiteness is socially constructed and experienced in order to help dismantle white supremacy,” the description reads. “In this class, we will ask what an ethical white identity entails, what it means to be #woke, and consider the journal Race Traitor’s motto, ‘treason to whiteness is loyalty to humanity.’”

The course will satisfy the university’s “ethnic studies” requirement for graduation, and will be taught by an associate professor whose course load includes a class on “Global Hiphop and Social Justice.” (Source)

Texas university takes the ‘holiday’ out of parties in December

BY Todd Starnes

Don’t call your holiday party a holiday party.

That’s the recommendation from Texas Woman’s University – posting a series of tips on how to make December office parties ‘all-inclusive’ and ‘multicultural.’

Dr. Mark Kessler, a professor of multicultural women’s and gender studies recommends not decorating with Santa Claus, a red-nosed reindeer or evergreen trees. And whatever you do, don’t serve red & green sugar cookies shaped like Christmas trees. Read more

College Removes American Flag, Calls it “Symbol of Fear”

by Todd Starnes

A private college in Massachusetts has announced it will no longer fly Old Glory because it has become a “heated symbol” in the aftermath of the presidential election — in an “environment of escalating hate-based violence.”

“There were a range of views on campus, including people whose experience growing up have made the flag a symbol of fear, which was strengthened by the toxic language during the campaign, and people for whom the flag is the symbol of all that’s best throughout the country,” said Hampshire College president Jonathan Lash told WBZ.

The Hampshire College Board of Trustees initially agreed to fly the flag at half-staff on Veterans Day — but not necessarily to honor our veterans.

“This was meant as an expression of grief over the violent deaths being suffered in this country and globally, including many U.S. service members who have lost their lives,” Lash wrote in a Facebook post.

So Hampshire College basically insulted every member of the Armed Forces — men and women who sacrifice their lives for a bunch of ungrateful over-educated brats. Read more

Town renames Good Friday for the sake of “Cultural Sensitivity”

by Todd Starnes

Whenever you hear a liberal talking about cultural diversity and sensitivity it normally means something insensitive is about to happen to Christians.

The latest case in point: Bloomington, Indiana – the home of Indiana University and a nesting place for a gaggle of intolerant liberals.

Mayor John Hamilton recently announced that are renaming two paid holidays for city workers — in an effort to respect “differing cultures.”

Columbus Day will henceforth be known as “Fall Holiday” and Good Friday will be known as “Spring Holiday.” Read more

University of Texas issues 29-point checklist on offensive Halloween costumes

Even themes approved by school ‘can be carried out incorrectly’

by Brian Bensimon

Leave your cowboy boots and Hawaiian leis at home this Halloween unless you want to hear from University of Texas-Austin administrators.

Sorority and Fraternity Life, part of the Office of the Dean of Students, issued its updated “costume and theme resource guide” last week, instructing UT Greeks to avoid Halloween party costumes and themes that may “appropriate another culture or experience.” Read more

Univ. of Northern Colorado students forced to use ‘mandatory’ gender-neutral language

By Jillian Kay Melchior

More colleges around the country are launching “inclusive language” campaigns that encourage students to avoid everyday words and phrases that could possibly offend someone, somewhere—”hey guys,” “mankind” and “man-made” are just a few of the terms now frowned upon.

The University of Northern Colorado has also jumped on the “inclusive language” bandwagon. But at the Greeley, Colo., university, there’s an extra wrinkle: In at least five classes in the last year, the new, ultra-inclusive lexicon wasn’t optional—it was required. Read more

University of Florida offers counseling for students offended by Halloween costumes

By Brittany Loggins

The University of Florida wants students to know that counseling is available for students hoping to work past any offense taken from Halloween costumes.

“Some Halloween costumes reinforce stereotypes of particular races, genders, cultures, or religions. Regardless of intent, these costumes can perpetuate negative stereotypes, causing harm and offense to groups of people,” the school administration wrote in a blog post. “If you are troubled by an incident that does occur, please know that there are many resources available.” Read more

A Blizzard of Snowflakes

By Peter Skurkiss

Infantile skittishness on campus is not confined to just politically correct and so-called diversity issues, as bad as that is. As a recent Wall Street Journal article pointed out, college students are now literally flooding mental-health centers on campus year round for anything and everything. Read more

Duke University: Combating “Toxic Masculinity”

by David L. Hunter

Rather than classically educating the mind and developing the character, Duke University has officially joined the academic cult of politically correct social engineering.

The estimated cost to attend North Carolina’s Duke University this year is $70,092. For all those greenbacks—some $280,000 for a 4-year degree—any male offspring can look forward to being demonized for inherent “toxic masculinities” due to his gender. To that end The Men’s Project is creating a “safe space” so young men can, in essence, ‘make healthier choices while critiquing their own masculinity’—and fretting over their “male privilege”. Thus, by design, young men should feel deficient solely for the expression of their manliness? What complete hogwash!

College junior Dipro Bhowmik, of the 4-person student leadership team, informed the Duke Chronicle that the indoctrination concerns “questioning how you can be accountable to feminism, to the women in your life and to the larger community.” Excuse me, accountable to feminism? Read more

University of Michigan professors instructed to stick to ‘preferred pronouns’

By Jillian Kay Melchior

The University of Michigan yesterday unveiled a new webpage that allows students to choose their preferred pronouns, including “they” and “ze.”

Preferred pronouns will appear on class rosters, and if professors accidentally use the wrong pronoun, “you can acknowledge that you made a mistake and use the correct pronoun next time,” said the university’s provost and vice president for student life in a campus-wide email announcement. It also called using preferred pronouns “one of the most basic ways to show your respect for their identity and to cultivate an environment that respects all gender identities.” Read more

Follow up: Michigan student successfully changes preferred pronoun to ‘His Majesty’ on class roster. Read more

Study: Forest Fires in Sierra Nevada Driven by Past Land Use not Climate Change

Researchers from the University of Arizona and Penn State studied fire regimes in the Sierra Nevada Mountain of California for the period 1600 to 2015 and found that land use changes, not climate, were the principal controlling factors.

This result was apparently a surprise to the researchers since they set out to correlate climate with the fires.

“Initially, we did work to see if we could develop long-lead forecasts for fire in the area — six to 18 months in the future — using climate patterns such as El Niño,” said Alan H. Taylor, professor of geography, Penn State. “This would be a significant help because we could place resources in the west if forecasts indicated it would be dry and the southeast would be wet. However, the climate relationships with fire did not consistently track.”

“We were expecting to find climatic drivers,” said lead co-author Valerie Trouet, a UA associate professor of dendrochronology. “We didn’t find them.”

The researchers used tree ring data from 29 sites, historical documents, and 20th Century records of areas burned.

From the UofA press release:

For the years 1600 to 2015, the team found four periods, each lasting at least 55 years, where the frequency and extent of forest fires clearly differed from the time period before or after. The team found the fire regimes corresponded to different types of human occupation and use of the land: the pre-settlement period to the Spanish colonial period; the colonial period to the California Gold Rush; the Gold Rush to the Smokey Bear/fire suppression period; and the Smokey Bear/fire suppression era to present. Finding that fire activity and human land use are closely linked means people can affect the severity and frequency of future forest fires through managing the fuel buildup and other land management practices — even in the face of rising temperatures from climate change.

From the Penn State press release:

Early fires, because they were more frequent, with less fuel build-up, were “good” fires. They burned through the forest, consumed understory fuels and left the majority of trees unharmed. The Native American mosaic of burned and unburned areas prevented fires from continuously spreading.

From 1776 to 1865 the second fire regime, characterized by Spanish colonialism and the depopulation of Native Americans in the area, shows more land burned. European settlers brought diseases against which Native Americans had no immunity and the population suffered. The Spanish built a string of missions in California beginning in 1769 and relocated remaining Native Americans to the mission areas. In 1793, there was a ban on burning to preserve forage, disrupting the pre-colonial Native American burning practices. The incidence of fires became more sensitive to drought and the fire regime changed, creating the time when fires were largest and most closely coupled with climate.

The third fire period is from 1866 to 1903 and was initiated by the California gold rush, when thousands of people poured into the area. Settlement by large numbers of new immigrants began to break up the forest fuel and the creation of large herds of animals, especially sheep, removed large amounts of understory and changed the fire regime.

The fourth fire period began in 1904 and is linked to the federal government’s policy of fire suppression on government lands. The reason pre-colonial and Spanish colonial fire levels were so much higher than today is that the current fire regime is one of suppressions with an extremely low incidence of fires compared to the past. However, suppression over the last century has allowed fuel to build up on the forest floor and opened the door for “bad” fires that destroy the forest canopy and burn large areas of land.

(UofA press release, Penn State press release, paper abstract )

This finding contradicts an alarmist story printed in the Arizona Daily Star this past October (see third reference below).

 

See also:

Wildfires and Warming – Relationship not so clear
Claim: “Worsening Wildfires Linked to Temp Rise

Media hype about forest fires and global warming
Mega-fires in Southwest due to forest mismanagement

Will Trump rein in regulation?

Have we just witnessed a second American revolution; one that repudiates the policies of the political establishment of both Republicans and Democrats? We had a hint of this when Trump beat out establishment Republicans in the primary.

Trump will have much to deal with. In this article I will concentrate on the EPA, an agency whose regulations have trampled private property rights, and killed much inexpensive electricity generation.

What if, in his inaugural address, Trump were to issue an executive order that says something like “no federal agency shall regulate carbon dioxide emissions from burning of fossil fuels and all existing regulations to that effect are null and void?” Even the EPA admits that the possible effect on climate of its “Clean Power Plan” is prevention of just 0.03°C by the year 2100. That would be a great positive step in quelling the climate madness. It would also boost our economy. EPA regulations on particulate matter have no basis in science (see references below).

The EPA itself could be phased out and replaced by the environmental agencies of each state.

The EPA’s “Waters of the United States” rule (WOTUS, see here and here) impacts private property rights because the rule has become so invasive that it regulates every puddle and rill that may occur on or pass through a property.

In addition to the above:

The U.S. should withdrawal from the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, from the Paris climate agreement and from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change IPCC). These agencies and agreements suck money and provide no benefit. In the thousands of pages from reports by the IPCC, they have never produced any physical evidence that carbon dioxide emissions play a significant role in controlling global temperature.

The U.S. should also terminate all federal government subsidies for climate change research and for “renewable” energy. Let the solar and wind turbine companies test the demand for their product on the free market without any artificial markets produced by mandates and subsidies.

Endangered species listings based on projected climate change should be rescinded. In fact, the Endangered Species act should be amended or replaced with something that is more science-based and provides a positive incentive for conservation.

I hope Trump can “drain the swamp” and make the government serve the people once again.

 

See also:

EPA Clean Power Plan is Junk Science

EPA’s own human experiments debunk health claims

EPA claims on dangers of particulate matter are false

EPA Clean Power Plan is Junk Science

Replace the Environmental Protection Agency

EPA targets wrong cause of haze in Grand Canyon

The Flaws in the Endangered Species Act

 

 

Federal land grabs hurt economy and trample property rights

Using the Antiquity Act, the Endangered Species Act, and by executive moratoria, President Obama has now seized more land by executive order than any U.S. President in history.

Arizona has a Federally-imposed 20-year moratorium on new mining claims near the Grand Canyon, an area rich in uranium. The rationale is that such mining could contaminate the Colorado River. However a study by the Arizona Geological Survey shows this worry to be far-fetched. (see ADI story).

Obama’s Interior Department is proposing to withdraw up to 10 million acres of sage grouse habitat from new mining operations in Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, and Wyoming. This action is being proposed in spite of the fact that DOI recently announced that listing of the greater sage grouse as endangered under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) is not warranted and DOI’s finding that mining is not a major threat to the bird or its habitat.

The National Mining Association says “This over-reaching and unprecedented action would seriously damage the United States economy and mineral security, while harming the very species it purports to protect.” “DOI maintains that the withdrawal is necessary to prevent a listing of the sage grouse. However, most of the reports prepared for the listing determination do not identify mining activities as a significant threat and instead point to wildfires and invasive species as the greatest threats.” NMA also notes that “Already half of the nation’s hardrock mineral estate is either off-limits or under restrictions for mineral development.” (Source) NMA has released a video explaining how these withdrawals negatively impact our nation, industries, and citizens.

This past August, Obama greatly expanded the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument in Hawaii to 582,578 square miles. This area will be off-limits to scientific investigation, petroleum exploration, and commercial fishing. (Source)

Also in August, Obama created the “Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument,” placing 87,563 acres of Maine’s woods under federal control. This designation did not sit well with the local people. (Source) Obama also set aside two million acres in Utah as the “Big Ears National Monument.”

In July, 2015, Obama claimed more than 1 million acres in California, Texas and Nevada to designate as national monuments. The Washington Times opined: “With the move, Mr. Obama has established or expanded 19 national monuments, taking 260 million acres of land and placing it under control of the federal government. Critics say the administration simply wants to expand government control across the country.” (Source)

On Nov. 1, 2016, members of the House Committee on Natural Resources sent a letter to the White House expressing concerns that national monument designations in California and Oregon will exacerbate water shortages and increase threats of catastrophic wildfire. (Read letter)

Do you want such policy to continue? Or, should we wisely use our own natural resources to become less dependent on foreign sources?

 

See also:

Trump Weighs In On Western States Land Grab Battle – ADI article

Open federal land to energy exploration and development to boost economy – Wryheat

Free the Land from the Feds

RECLAIMING AMERICANISM AND THE CONSTITUTION

I am reposting this essay from 2012 because in the election of 2016 we will decide whether we continue to lose our freedoms to big government or get back to basics.

In the comfort and security of freedom we are complacent; we take that great gift for granted. Now we find ourselves in similar bonds of slavery as those who declared independence from England two centuries ago. We find the right to life, liberty and property threatened, not by an absent king, but by an increasing almighty and ever-present government; a government that has “erected a multitude of new offices and sent hither swarms of officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.”

Here is the full post from July, 2012:

Just what was it that led a group of 56 men–among them doctors, educators, and clergy–aged 26 to 70, to sign a treasonous document that would break the bonds between the 13 colonies and Mother England? It wasn’t wealth. It wasn’t fame. It wasn’t glory.

On the contrary, disaster and ruin were the lot of many of the signers. Nine died of wounds or hardships during the war. Five were jailed and brutally treated. One lost all 13 of his children; and the wives, sons and daughters of others were killed, imprisoned, harassed or deprived of all material possessions. Seventeen signers lost everything they owned, and all were hunted as traitors, with most separated from home and family. But none of the signers ever betrayed his pledged word. There were no defectors. No one changed his mind. Lives and fortunes were lost, but their sacred honor was never sacrificed.

What piece of paper could they have valued so highly that they willingly jeopardized their property, their liberty, their lives? What piece of paper could they have revered so highly that they were willing to pit a poorly equipped and badly trained militia of 10,000 men against an armada of British ships with 42,000 sailors? What piece of paper could they have esteemed so highly that they signed with trembling hand but resolute heart?

That piece of paper was The unanimous Declaration of the United States of America, which said in part:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”

Freedom was not free for those Colonial patriots who committed treason 236 years ago. Nor is it free today. But the further removed generations are from that two centuries old insubordination and the ensuing conflagration, the dimmer the magnitude of their dedication and sacrifice. In the comfort and security of freedom we are complacent; we take that great gift for granted. Now we find ourselves in similar bonds of slavery as those who declared independence from England two centuries ago. We find the right to life, liberty and property threatened, not by an absent king, but by an increasing almighty and ever-present government; a government that has “erected a multitude of new offices and sent hither swarms of officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.”

In the “Seven Principles of Animalism” in George Orwell’s Animal Farm, those in power deliberately, letter by letter, smeared and blurred and eventually erased the seven original principles. The animals shook their heads and rubbed their eyes in astonishment and incredulity at the changes, but in the end were convinced that only one Principle had ever existed. It read, “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”

Today we rub our eyes and shake our heads in astonishment and incredulity. . .

-that Politicians who wanted a means of legal plunder have changed the meaning of “welfare” from “the state of faring well” to “the redistribution of wealth.”

-that Freedom of religion and speech and the press have mutated to abolition of religion, politically correct speech, and an advocacy press.

-that “The right of the people to keep and bear Arms,” has metamorphosed into a protection for criminals–who acquire their guns on the black market–while law-abiding citizens are having them stripped away.

-that “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures” has been trampled by governmental agencies that trespass on private land in search of endangered species which are used to confiscate the land.

-that State Powers have been appropriated by the Federal Government via legislation, executive order and bureaucratic regulation.
-and that as State Powers have been usurped, so is American sovereignty threatened by the United Nations.

In the song, “God Bless the USA,” Lee Greenwood says, “the flag still stands for freedom, and they can’t take that away.” Every new regulation takes freedoms away. Every new bureaucracy takes freedoms away. Every new government intrusion takes freedoms away. Our Americanism and our Constitution are on the endangered species list, and it’s time to reclaim both.

This essay was written by Sara Jo DuHamel, a teacher and patriot, who passed away in 1998 from breast cancer.

 

Science in Trouble

Science, as practiced today, is in trouble mainly because of money and politics. Much grant money flows from government which seeks results that will confirm the current political orthodoxy. And there are many willing takers.

A good scientist is always skeptical, but often that skepticism may be a career breaker. You as a reader should also be skeptical when a new Study claims this or that. This is especially true in the fields of climate and medical research.

Below are introductions to five articles dealing with the trouble with science today.

Annals Of Fake, Politicized “Science”

by Francis Menton

If you have never read President Dwight Eisenhower’s January 1961 farewell address, you should. It’s not long. He clearly foresaw the oncoming unchecked expansion of the federal government, and the associated dangers. The famous passage deals with the risks to science from the new-found gusher of federal grant spending:

A steadily increasing share [of scientific research] is conducted for, by, or at the direction of, the Federal government. Today, the solitary inventor, tinkering in his shop, has been overshadowed by task forces of scientists in laboratories and testing fields. In the same fashion, the free university, historically the fountainhead of free ideas and scientific discovery, has experienced a revolution in the conduct of research. Partly because of the huge costs involved, a government contract becomes virtually a substitute for intellectual curiosity. . . . The prospect of domination of the nation’s scholars by Federal employment, project allocations, and the power of money is ever present – and is gravely to be regarded.

Fast-forward 55 years, and we are deep in the dystopia that Eisenhower foresaw. In science today, government funding is everything, and control of it empowers orthodoxy enforcement and the banishment of skeptics and dissenters — the antithesis of science. Many examples can be cited of science gone completely off the rails through the perverse incentives of government monopoly funding. But really, nothing can top the hysteria — underwritten by tens of billions of dollars of annual federal spending — of the climate change machine. Read more

Advocacy research, incentives and the practice of science

by Dr. Judith Curry

There is a problem with the practice of science. Because of poor scientific practices, and improper incentives, few papers with useful scientific findings are published in leading journals. The problem appears to be growing due to funding for advocacy research.

Funding for researchers is often provided to gain support for a favored hypothesis. Researchers are also rewarded for finding evidence that supports hypotheses favored by senior colleagues. These incentives leads to what we call “advocacy research,” an approach that is contrary to the definition of science. In addition, university researchers are typically rewarded with selection and promotion on the basis of their performance against measures that have the effect of distracting them from doing useful scientific research. Read more

Politics and the Changing Norms of Science

by Lucas Bergkamp

“The politician is sometimes tempted to encroach on the normal territory of the scientific estate. In such issues the problem is less often whether politics will presume to dictate to science than it is how much politics is to be influenced by the new findings of science.”

The climate change debate has exposed a deeper problem with our science and scientific knowledge. The problem is not that science is unable to answer all of our questions. Rather, the problem is that the body politic has come to see science as an instrument to pass on ‘hot potatoes,’ i.e. complex issues raising a large range of empirical questions and implicating important value judgments. Scientists have failed to point out the limits of science and to bounce the ball back to the politicians. In the market for ‘evidence’ for policy making, politicians demand arguments for their desired policies, which scientists supply in the form of research and reports. Their research, however, does little to resolve the policy issues faced by the body politic, and does not advance social progress. Climate science is the poster child of these developments. Read more

Peer Review, Why skepticism is essential

by Donna Laframboise

Peer-reviewed research is reliable, so the reasoning goes. Non-peer-reviewed research is not. The IPCC makes exclusive use of the former, therefore its conclusions can be trusted.* This argument has long been used to deflect criticism and to repel contrary climate perspectives.

But behind it lies a dubious assumption: that academic publications are a sound foundation on which to base real-world decisions. In fact, science is currently in the grip of a ’reproducibility crisis’ so severe that the editor of a prominent journal has declared that ‘much of the scientific literature, perhaps half, may simply be untrue’. Media coverage declaring that ’science is broken’ has become commonplace. Read report (40 pages)

*In her book, Laframboise shows that in fact, about 28% of sources used by the IPCC were from magazine articles, press releases, and unpublished papers. (See book review)

 The 7 biggest problems facing science, according to 270 scientists

by Julia Belluz, Brad Plumer, and Brian Resnick

In the past several years, many scientists have become afflicted with a serious case of doubt — doubt in the very institution of science.

The scientific process, in its ideal form, is elegant: Ask a question, set up an objective test, and get an answer. Repeat. Science is rarely practiced to that ideal. But Copernicus believed in that ideal. So did the rocket scientists behind the moon landing.

Today, scientists’ success often isn’t measured by the quality of their questions or the rigor of their methods. It’s instead measured by how much grant money they win, the number of studies they publish, and how they spin their findings to appeal to the public.

Scientists often learn more from studies that fail. But failed studies can mean career death. So instead, they’re incentivized to generate positive results they can publish. And the phrase “publish or perish” hangs over nearly every decision. Read more

Read also: On consensus in science

Private Property Rights vs Environmental Feudalism

We have seen, especially over the last 40 years, a determined assault on private property rights. It is not coincidental that the passing of the Endangered Species Act marks the beginning of this period. Preservationist groups have accomplished through government coercion what they could not get people to do voluntarily. Increasingly, the cost of perceived societal goals are not borne by society as a whole, but by individual property owners. This situation is nothing more than legal plunder, or as Frederic Bastiat put it, “See if the law takes from some persons what belongs to them, and gives it to other persons to whom it does not belong. See if the law benefits one citizen at the expense of another by doing what the citizen himself cannot do without committing a crime.”

The U.S. Constitution states that “..nor shall private property be taken for public use without just compensation.” The problem of late, is that the definition of “taking” has been subject to debate in the courts. If government condemns private land for a public project, the issue is straight forward and the owner is usually compensated. But it has been less clear in the courts for the situations where a property owner has been denied beneficial use of all or part of a property through zoning ordinances, “growing smarter” schemes, conservation easements, habitat plans, ecosystem management districts, or for the alleged protection of endangered species, wetlands, historic districts, heritage areas, conservation areas, wilderness areas, wildlife preserves, buffer zones to the foregoing, or for the many other excuses government uses to restrict land use.

So what is the big deal about property rights anyway? Karl Marx: “The theory of Communists may be summed up in the single sentence: Abolition of private property.” The big deal is that private property rights are essential to a free society. These rights confer upon the owner the fruits of his labor, the right to the benefit from his work, his investments, and his ideas. Notice that places without private property rights are generally totalitarian regimes where the citizens are slaves to the government.

The concept of private property rights has a long history in western thought. Our founding fathers, particularly Madison and Jefferson, equated property rights with individual rights. In the Declaration of Independence, Jefferson wrote of the inalienable right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. The later part of this trinity refers to property rights and seems to have been taken from philosopher John Locke’s “life, liberty and estate.” Jefferson goes on to write, “a right to property is founded in our natural wants, in the means by which we are endowed to satisfy those wants, and the right to what we acquire by those means without violating the equal rights of other sensible beings.”

Other western philosophers and statesmen reinforce these principles. For Jeremy Bentham, there were four inalienable rights: liberty, property, security (in the sense of the 4th Amendment) and the right of self-defense. Georg Hegel: “Right is in the first place the immediate embodiment which freedom gives itself in an immediate way, i.e., possession, which is property ownership.” Pope Pius XII: “Private property is a natural fruit of labor, a product of intense activity of man, acquired through his energetic determination to ensure and develop with his own strength his own existence and that of his family, and to create for himself and his own an existence of just freedom.” Friedrich von Hayek: “The system of private property is the most important guaranty of freedom, not only for those who own property, but scarcely less for those who do not.” U.S. Supreme Court (Lynch vs Household Finance, 1972): “The dichotomy between personal liberties and property rights is a false one. Property does not have rights. People have rights. The right to enjoy property without unlawful deprivation, no less than the right to speak or the right to travel, is in truth, a ‘personal’ right…a fundamental interdependence exists between personal right to liberty and the personal right to property. Neither could have meaning without the other.”

Individual and property rights have long been under assault by governments. A warning by George Washington applies as well today as it did when he wrote, “The time is now near at hand which must probably determine whether Americans are to be freemen or slaves; whether they are to have any property they can call their own…”

The current great assault on our rights derives from environmental laws and their unconstitutional application. We have entered a state of Environmental Feudalism. As Karol Ceplo writes in Land Rights: “The ever-increasing use of regulation to restrict private property rights represents a profound change in the politics of land use. This movement has been described as a ‘new feudalism of regulation.’ The management of environmental resources has shifted from the private owner to a centralized bureaucracy, much as land use in medieval times was controlled by centralized royal or ecclesiastical powers, rather than by the people who lived on and worked the land.”

Local manifestations of environmental feudalism came in the form of draconian rules concerning the pygmy owl, in county interim regulations requiring set aside of 80% of land as mitigation to build on the remaining 20%, and in the scheme called the Sonoran Desert Conservation Plan.

These changes did not happen over night, but evolved incrementally, just as James Madison warned, “I believe there are more instances of the abridgment of the freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments of those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations.” The road back may also be in small steps. The U.S. Supreme Court seems to have rediscovered the Constitution in many recent decisions, but so far, these decisions deal only with individual circumstances and form no overarching return to Constitutional government.

With the coming change in federal administration, we must insist that environmental laws be tempered with just notice to our rights, and that our representatives and senators return to the principles upon which this nation was founded.

 

See also:

The Flaws in the Endangered Species Act

Endangered Species Act administration changes bode ill for property rights

Environmental Sophistry

 

American Association for the Advancement of Science forgets the Science

The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and affiliated professional societies just shot themselves in the foot with the letter to U.S. policy makers. Dr. Judith Curry explains on her blog why this is both foolish and unscientific.

AAAS say: “In a consensus letter to U.S. policymakers, a partnership of 31 leading nonpartisan scientific societies today reaffirmed the reality of human-caused climate change, noting that greenhouse gas emissions ‘must be substantially reduced’ to minimize negative impacts on the global economy, natural resources, and human health.”

Curry counters: This statement is a blatant misuse of scientific authority to advocate for specific socioeconomic policies. National security and economics (specifically called out in the letter) is well outside the wheelhouse of all of these organizations. Note the American Economics Association is not among the signatories; according to an email from Ross McKitrick, the constitution of the AEA forbids issuing such statements. In fact, climate science is well outside the wheelhouse of most of these organizations (what the heck is with the statisticians and mathematicians in signing this?)

The link between adverse impacts such as more wildfires, ecosystem changes, extreme weather events etc. and their mitigation by reducing greenhouse gas emissions hinges on detecting unusual events for at least the past century and then actually attributing them to human caused warming. This is highly uncertain territory – even within the overconfident world of the IPCC. And the majority of the signatories to this letter have no expertise in the detection and attribution of human caused climate change.

The signatories whose membership has some expertise on the detection and attribution of climate change are only a few: American Geophysical Union, American Meteorological Society, University Corporation for Atmospheric Research, Geological Society of America. The rest are professional societies who are not involved with the physics of climate but explicitly profit from the alarm.

Interestingly, since January 2014, 770 peer-reviewed scientific papers have been published in scholarly journals that how unsettled the “consensus” science is regarding claims that anthropogenic or CO2 forcing dominates weather and climate changes, or that non-anthropogenic factors play only a relatively minor and inconsequential role.

Instead of supporting the “consensus” science, these 770 papers support the position that there are significant limitations and uncertainties apparent in climate modeling and the predictions of future climate catastrophes. Furthermore, these scientific papers strongly suggest that natural factors (the Sun, multi-decadal ocean oscillations [AMO/PDO, ENSO], cloud and aerosol albedo variations, etc.) have both in the past and present exerted a significant influence on weather and climate, which means an anthropogenic signal may be much more difficult to detect or distinguish as an “extremely likely” cause relative to natural variation. Papers questioning the “common-knowledge” viewpoints on ocean acidification, glacier melt and advance, sea level rise, extreme weather events, past climate forcing mechanisms, the “danger” of high CO2 concentrations, etc., have also been included in this volume of 770 papers. (Source)

In 2014, there were almost 250 papers that may support a skeptical-of-the-consensus position. see here.

In 2015, there were over 280 papers that may support a skeptical-of-the-consensus position, see here.

240 papers already in 2016

Now updated for the first 6 months of 2016, a review of the literature has already uncovered a list of 240 papers published in peer-reviewed scholarly journals that support a skeptical-of-the-consensus position, see here.

UPDATE 07-21-16:
The latest ”Consensus” Letter on Climate Change, allegedly signed by leaders of 31 scientific organizations and published on the websites of the AAAS, AGU, AMS, and others, appears to be a forgery. The letter consists of few sentences of alarmist “content” (which is beyond the scope of this paper) and the names of 31 organizations, printed at the end of the letter and having the appearance of signatures. The press release and the accompanying article , published on June 28,
2016, stated that the letter was signed by all 31 named organizations. In fact, some of the listed scientific societies did not sign the letter prior to its publication, and their alleged signatures on the letter were forged. This forgery was revealed by some routine fact-checking the author conducted, which this paper details. See analysis by Ari Halperin.