Thoughts On Judicial Supremacy

Ramesh discusses something that doesn’t get enough discussion:

The argument that has not been made (or at least not made often) is that the whole legislation — not just the individual mandate — exceeds the constitutional powers of the federal government. This classic conservative position has gone unvoiced. I suspect that it has done so because, again, of the influence of judicial supremacy. We have been trained to think that saying that an overhaul of American health care exceeds the legitimate powers of Congress is equivalent to calling for the judicial invalidation of health-care legislation (along with much of modern government, by implication). Since that would be absurd to call for, we don’t say it.

At the risk of being thought quixotic, let me suggest that we need to revive a dormant tradition of legislative reasoning and argument about the Constitution. In this kind of constitutional reasoning considerations that it would be improper for judges to invoke have their place.

What a concept. This is annoying, too:

…too many commentators have dwelt on the question of how the courts are likely to treat the legislation — or, at best, what they should do consistent with their precedents — rather than on the distinct question of whether the Constitution, properly interpreted, grants Congress the power to enact this legislation.

It’s partly because many of the commentariat don’t even understand the Constitution, nor care about it much, at least when it comes to the government running the economy. But it’s also a symptom of the simple-mindedness of the media. It’s like a political campaign where they report on the horse race — who’s ahead or behind — rather than what the candidates actually say about the issues, with an analysis of it. Yes, it’s not unimportant to speculate about how a court will rule, but it’s not as important as analyzing the actual legal and constitutional issues, but they’re either incapable of that, or uninterested.

No Lunar Landings For The Indians

At least no time soon, or affordably:

Theo Pirard, who attended the conference, discovered the projected plan of the Indian manned Mission on the Moon, which is the result of recent feasibility studies made by ISRO. This plan offers some similarities with the US Constellation programme for the return to the Moon but no date could be announced, because of lack of money.

Yes, the main similarity is that they think that in order to go to the moon, you have to replicate Apollo. We’ll see how these long-term plans evolve in the years to come when the reusables start flying, and Bigelow is doing lunar excursion using depots.

How Technology Will Change Our Lives

…in the next decade. Prognostications from Ray Kurzweil. This is the part I like:

We won’t just be able to lengthen our lives; we’ll be able to improve our lifestyles. By 2020, we will be testing drugs that will turn off the fat insulin receptor gene that tells our fat cells to hold on to every calorie. Holding on to every calorie was a good idea thousands of years ago when our genes evolved in the first place. Today it underlies an epidemic of obesity. By 2030, we will have made major strides in our ability to remain alive and healthy – and young – for very long periods of time. At that time, we’ll be adding more than a year every year to our remaining life expectancy, so the sands of time will start running in instead of running out.

For those of us interested in space, we’re going to need it, because one thing that doesn’t seem to be improving over time is government space policy.

Avoiding Tickets

Drive one of these cars. This would be more interesting if there were some theoretical basis as to why they’re less ticket bait than others, as opposed to (I assume) empirical data. It’s not clear what else they have in common.

My theory of ticket avoidance is a) don’t drive a red car — they stand out and look fast even sitting still and b) don’t cruise the left lane on the freeway — that’s where cops are looking for speeders. I’ll never rent a red car if I can avoid it. I rarely drive below the speed limit, and I get a speeding ticket about twice per decade or so (a rare enough event that it has no effect on my insurance rates, let alone my driving privileges).

I recall back in the early nineties, when a well-known space activist (who will remain nameless to prevent embarrassment) and I were driving from DC up to Princeton for Gerry O’Neill’s funeral in his rental. We were going through Maryland, which is renowned for speed traps, and I warned him to use the left lane for passing only, but he didn’t heed me, and blithely cruised in it, until he heard the sirens behind him. And while we were pulled over, yet another well-known space activist passed us, saw who was sitting in the driver’s seat, and laughed.

And this all confirmed my theory, sort of, at least to me. I’ve only gotten two speeding tickets on a freeway in my entire life — all the others have been on open two-lanes, or passing through towns and not slowing down enough.

The Hockey Stick

in historical context.

Bring on the warming.

[Via Planet Gore]

[Update mid morning]

Here’s my question for those who insist that the current warming trend is a result of the Industrial Revolution: if so, then what is your explanation for all of the previous temperature spikes? Why should we assume that this one, and this one only, is a result of CO2 build up, and not simply part of the natural cycle (which is what it appears to be in the longer view) and a coincidence?

[Update a few minutes later]

You, too, can cash in on AGW alarmism:

[Another update a couple minutes later]

And why should we not get to see the models and data?

…soon after my request was fired off, I was informed by NCAR’s counsel that the organization is, in fact, not a federal agency—because its budget is laundered through the National Science Foundation—and thus is under no obligation to provide information to the public.

“Why don’t you put all your e-mails online for everyone to see?” Trenberth helpfully suggested to me. “My e-mail is none of your business.”

Now, generally, I would agree. It’s every American citizen’s hallowed duty to mind his or her own freaking business—except in those rare instances when one of those citizens happens to be a taxpayer-funded eco-crusader utilizing his appointed station in life to promote policy that sticks its nose into the lives of every American.

I’m afraid snarky columnizing, on the other hand, is not federally funded—at least not yet.

In fact, Trenberth’s work is one reason the nation is moving toward rationed energy use via cap-and-trade legislation. His work is one reason the Environmental Protection Agency, through its endangerment findings on carbon emissions, can regulate industry by decree. It is Trenberth’s government-financed science that drives public policy across this country. Yet Trenberth has less accountability to the public than the local parks department.

He is not alone. The Competitive Enterprise Institute—one of those troglodyte-funded, big-screen-television-loving outfits—was forced to file three notices of intent to file suit against NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, demanding the organization provide documents and raw data that were requested under the Freedom of Information Act three years ago.

Chris Horner, an attorney and senior fellow at CEI working on the NASA case, says of NCAR: “Without government, these jobs would not exist; that is a reasonable threshold test to determine whether documents should be available to the taxpayer.”

But if they release it to us, we might know just how extensive the fraud is.

[Update early afternoon]

Now Russian papers are claiming that the CRU cherry-picked Russian thermometers:

Analysts say Russian meteorological stations cover most of the country’s territory, and that the Hadley Center had used data submitted by only 25% of such stations in its reports.

Over 40% of Russian territory was not included in global-temperature calculations for some other reasons, rather than the lack of meteorological stations and observations.

The data of stations located in areas not listed in the Hadley Climate Research Unit Temperature UK (HadCRUT) survey often does not show any substantial warming in the late 20th century and the early 21st century.

Gee, whyever would they do that?

It would certainly explain the “warming” in Siberia. More Mann-caused phenomena.

[Update a couple minutes later]

Wait a minute. I just reread that. It wasn’t the CRU — it was the Hadley Centre. So, is this collusion, confirmation bias, what?

Hiding The Decline

…is even worse than it first appeared. It would appear that tree rings are worse than useless as a proxy for temperature.

[Late afternoon update]

The data has been tortured, and it has confessed:

Continent after continent, researchers are seeing no warming in the unprocessed data (see one thorough analysis here).

For years, I have been a true skeptic on the subject. That is, I wasn’t convinced that the planet was warming, but I was willing to concede the possibility, even probability, and be convinced, though I never thought that it justified the costly and draconian, even totalitarian measures being proposed to deal with it.

I’ve reached a tipping point. Now consider me a “denier.” The burden of proof has shifted, completely. The climate scientific community has clearly been engaged in a toxic combination of groupthink, overadoration of their theories and confirmation bias, and outright fraud, not to mention hiding a lot more than the decline. Whoever finally blew the whistle on them last month is, in my opinion, an unknown hero to humanity.

I’ll have more thoughts on this, and the implications for national and global policies, at PJM in the morning.

The Boondoggle

…that is high-speed trains in California:

Those hoping to ride the state’s high-speed train next decade will have to dig much deeper into their wallets than officials originally thought, a harsh reality that will chase away millions of passengers, according to an updated business plan released Monday.

The average ticket on the bullet train from San Francisco to Los Angeles is now estimated to cost about $105, or 83 percent of comparable airfare. Last year, the state said prices would be set at 50 percent of comparable airfare and predicted a ticket from San Francisco to Los Angeles would cost $55.

As a result of the higher fares, state officials now think the service will attract 41 million annual riders by 2035, down from last year’s prediction of 55 million passengers by 2030.

Finally, the cost of the project — recently pegged at $33.6 billion in 2008 dollars — is now estimated at $42.6 billion in time-of-construction dollars.

The voters were crazy to approve that bond issue. Does anyone really believe that those numbers aren’t going to continue to rise, and ridership fall, into a death spiral that will turn it into a subsidized Amtrak (with subsidies probably coming from airfares between northern and southern California)? And this was supposed to be stimulus? Your government at work, and the country’s in the very best of hands.

Biting Commentary about Infinity…and Beyond!