Old Patriot's Pen

Personal pontifications of an old geezer born 200 years too late.

NOTE The views I express on this site are mine and mine alone. Nothing I say should be construed as being "official" or the views of any group, whether I've been a member of that group or not. The advertisings on this page are from Google, and do not constitute an endorsement on my part.

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Location: Colorado Springs, Colorado, United States

I've been everywhere That was the title of a hit country-and-western song from the late 1950's, originally sung by Hank Snow, and made famous by Johnny Cash. I resemble that! My 26-year career in the Air Force took me to more than sixty nations on five continents - sometimes only for a few minutes, other times for as long as four years at a time. In all that travel, I also managed to find the perfect partner, help rear three children, earn more than 200 hours of college credit, write more than 3000 reports, papers, documents, pamphlets, and even a handful of novels, take about 10,000 photographs, and met a huge crowd of interesting people. I use this weblog and my personal website here to document my life, and discuss my views on subjects I find interesting.

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

The Democrats' true colors

The election is over, the Democrats are in power both in the House and the Senate, and now the gloves are coming off. Each day highlights another aspect of Democratic "governance". Boiled down to its essential elements, it works out to a massive attempt to grab more power for the government, at the expence of the people.

Let's start with "global warming". It's becoming more and more evident that the sun plays a far greater role in influencing the temperature of the Earth than previously thought, and that solar cycles can explain 90% or more of any "global warming" that's taken place in the last 100 years. It's also evident that even global warming advocates accept that most of what they propose will do little or nothing to answer what they claim the problem "really is". Yet these same advocates want to shove us back into the cave, decimate 50% or more of the earth's population, and force the rest of us to live like savages. This is supposed to be "progress". The latest idiocy can be found by following Rep. Henry Waxman's investigative committee examining whether President Bush has "orchestrated (a) campaign to mislead the public about climate change". As if former VP Al Gore's "An Inconvenient Truth" wasn't a massive attempt by climate change adherents to "mislead the public". The bad science, cherry-picking of data, and other excesses of Gore's movie have been published here. More and more studies point to the role of solar variables in climate change - here, here, and here.

The truth is, we're not sure, first, if - or how much - climate is changing; secondly, what's causing those changes; and thirdly, what man can do about it. The United States appears to be on the right track by contributing money to research seeking answers to these questions. Until we can answer those questions, anything we do can come back to bite us - hard. The Law of Unintended Consequences is alive and well.

Let's also look at the economy. Today's economy is strong, vibrant, and moving forward. the DOW is at an all-time high, unemployment is low and may dip even further, and the average take-home pay (adjusted for inflation) of America's work-force is higher than it's been in decades. Yet the first thing the Democrats chose to do was to raise the minimum wage by almost 25%. Sixty years of economic studies have shown that minimum wage laws have no effect on poverty, the chief "reason" given for enacting and expanding them. It's plain economic reality that some labor is only worth a given amount of compensation, regardless of where it's done, how it's done, or who does it. If the value of labor - the worth gained from it - is only $5 an hour, paying $7 an hour for that labor will result in a net loss of $2/hour, no matter how you try to gussy it up. All minimum wage laws do is to take the control of establishing what labor is worth away from the employer and put it in the hands of Congress. That's not the wisest economic move. Anyone who believes that economic policy should be set by Congress should read Thomas Sowell's series, "A Dangerous Obsession from Town Hall.

The Democrats are also harping a "new" idea of insisting that all increases in spending have to be "offset" by either cuts elsewhere, or higher taxes. Guess which option they prefer. The economic expansion of the last four years has been fueled by the tax cuts of 2002. Rescinding those tax cuts, or adding additional taxes, will result in a slow-down or even reversal of economic activity. This isn't a guess - we saw the results of tax cuts/tax increases in the Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Carter, Reagan, Bush, Clinton, and BushII presidencies. Taxing something ALWAYS results in getting less of it, whether it's oil, butter, aircraft, or income. Raising taxes would be an economic disaster, yet it's one of the major issues of the current Democratic Congress.

The war against Islamic terrorism. Let's start by understanding a basic fact: the United States is at war, whether anyone wishes to acknowledge it or not. It's not a new war - the first "shots" were fired in the 1970's. It doesn't matter whether we've declared war against our enemies or not - they have declared war against us. The Democrats don't seem to be able to grasp this simple fact. They believe that we can "mollify" our enemies, and they will stop. There is nothing to suggest this is true, and everything to suggest it's false, including the history of the last 30+ years. We can continue to take the fight to our enemies, or they will bring that fight to us. Cutting out in the middle of a war may be politically expedient in some sectors of today's society, but it's not smart. The Democrats have apparently adopted "defeat" as a major policy plank - first in Vietnam, and now in Iraq. It will cost our government and its armed forces dearly if they succeed.

I could go on for pages, but it's obvious just from these examples that the Democrats are far more interested in emassing additional political power than they are in effectively governing the United States. I wish there was a better solution than supporting Republicans, who seem to have caught the same deadly disease.

Trying to dig out...

A lot has happened since my last post, and most of it hasn't been good.

We had a major fire here in Colorado Springs. A three-story, 135-unit apartment building was all but totally destroyed, even with over a hundred firefighters responding to the blaze. Bitter cold - lows in single digits and winds up to 25mph - made fighting the fire a nightmare. Even worse news came after the fire was extinguished - the fire was deliberately set (arson), and two people died. More than a hundred families lost everything they owned. Local residents and charity groups have pitched in to do what they can to help the victims. The fire was only eleven blocks south of our home.

Thursday or Friday of last week (everything has blended together in a confused hodge-podge) we learned that a little boy we've been taking care of was critically injured, and in the hospital. The mother's boyfriend has been charged with felony child abuse. Timmy, the little boy, is doing much better, but it's still too soon to know if there's any permanent damage or not. He's expected to go into foster-care with the mother's father today or tomorrow.

It snowed last Saturday (1/27), but there was only about an inch of accumulation. It's snowing today (1/31), and its supposed to snow more or less for the next four or five days. There is a drift over three feet deep on the south side of my house that hasn't melted at all in the past month. The new storms are supposed to add from two to twelve inches of new snow. We're supposed to have another week with highs in the low 30s or less, and lows in single digits. We get this type of weather every year, but it usually only happens a couple of times during the winter, for two or three days each. We've had colder weather, longer, this year than we've had in the 16+ years we've lived in Colorado. It's also been much wetter than normal, as my arthritis reminds me.

Hopefully things will now calm down a bit, and I can get back on track toward regular postings.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

A unit worthy of respect

As anyone who reads this blog can tell, I'm helping organize a reunion for the 497th Reconnaissance Technical Group for early summer, 2007. The 497th is an interesting unit - it was formed in 1952, and lasted until 1992. The majority of its functions were carried out in a small, walled compound in the village of Wiesbaden-Schierstein, and only a few locals knew it existed. Yet what happened within that compound had worldwide consequences. The 497th provided photographic/imagery support for all of US European Command. Most of its work was classified. There were a half-dozen satellite units and an equal number of 'associated' units that worked with the 497th, but which were not officially connected to the group in any way.

The Group provided intelligence information about Warsaw Pact forces and intentions, and helped support NATO operations in response to the 1956 Hungarian revolution, the 1969 Czechoslovakian invasion, terrorism (including the 1972 Munich Olympic debacle), several Arab/Israeli conflicts, the 1980 Iranian US hostage rescue, and humanitarian and disaster-relief missions from the northernmost tip of Norway to sub-Saharan Africa, and eastward to the Afghan/Pakistan border with Iran. That's a big chunk of land, and a big mission, but the 497th consistently contributed, and frequently exceeded expectations in all areas. It's a unit to be proud of, and one in which I have great pride in having served with.

Harbinger of good?

I woke up this morning aching in every joint in my body. My head was killing me, and I could hardly roll out of bed. This is usually a sign that a low-pressure front is moving through our area. There's no snow predicted, however, and the temperature is supposed to get up above 30F for the first time in over a week. Can my aches and pains be a sign that things are going to get BETTER? If it is, it'll be a first.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

We are at war, da$$it!

I'm a great fan of Rantburg, an interactive website that discusses daily happenings in the global war against islamic terrorism. I've been reading it since at least 2003, and it's never been boring. One thing the "locals" know for sure is that we are at war with a large percentage of the world's muslim population, not because we want to be, but because we have been persistently attacked by factions among that population.

This is not a new war. It's been going on ever since the end of World War I, when Great Britain and France broke up the old Ottoman Empire into a dozen or more quasi-independent nations. The discovery of oil in the Arabian peninsula and surrounding areas have given the muslims the funding to engage more seriously in a war against the rest of the world. Islam is a death cult, and has no qualms about killing its own members or anyone else to further its cause - world domination. Islam is incompatible with individual freedom, personal choice, and the equality of the individual. Islam supposedly means "submission" - it's more like "total surrender".

The Western world has been fighting against these muslim extremists with both hands tied behind them and one foot in a bucket. It's time to stop. It's time to acknowledge exactly what islam is, the threat it represents, and the ways it's used to attack our freedoms. It's also time to fight back - in every way possible. We have no right to totally destroy another people - unless they refuse to acknowledge our freedom to live as we choose. Islam accepts no such rights on our behalf, and must be crushed. The sooner we quit playing games and get on with it, the fewer people will die at the hands of islamic extremists.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Climate Change Shenanigans

It's difficult to pick up a newspaper or listen to television news without hearing something about "climate change" or "global warming" - frequently used as if interchangeable. Today's (Jan 4, 2007) Colorado Springs Gazette has a "Brief" entitled "Group calls out ExxonMobil for its myths". Here's one of the major quotes:

"ExxonMobil has manufactured uncertainties about the human causes of global warming, just as tobacco companies denied their product caused lung cancer," said Alden Meyer, the group's (Union of Concerned Scientists) director of strategy and policy."

Unfortunately, this manufactured straw-man doesn't hold up to skeptical evaluation.

Scientists back in the 1970's were predicting a new ice age. Today, they're predicting that the Earth will warm from 2 to 7 degrees Centigrade in the next 100 years. The science is no more settled about global warming than it was about the impending ice age from the 1970's. The people using "smoke and mirrors", as the article claims, appear to be the "Union of Concerned Scientists".

There's a lot being said about anthropogenic (human-caused) global warming, but not much of it makes sense. There is a growing list of reports that contradict the current "consensus" that the Earth is even warming, much less that it's caused by human activity. There's also more NOT being said that needs to be factored into any evaluation.

First and foremost, the greenhouse gas effect that keeps the Earth warm enough for human life is caused by a number of gasses, not just carbon dioxide. Water vapor makes up the vast majority of these gasses (about 95%), followed by carbon dioxide (4%), methane (>1%), and all others (negligable). It seems odd that a secondary gas, carbon dioxide, could produce such large predicted changes while comprising such a small percentage of the greenhouse gas concentration. Apparently, it doesn't. Several recent studies, NOT funded by ExxonMobil, have shown that water vapor can - and is - far more important in understanding the role of greenhouse gasses in the Earth's weather. The chief driver of climate change, however, is the sun. Apparently, a change of just a few hundredth of a percent in solar output can have significant impact on the average temperature of the Earth.

In fact, the sun has several different roles in regulating the Earth's surface temperature. There have been a number of studies that show that solar forcing (changes in solar output, magnetic field strength, cosmic ray variability, etc.) played the major role in past climate changes that were greater than current changes, and probably provide the primary source of current climate changes (
here (and see other chapters for additional information),
here, and
These links were gathered from a Google search of "Solar cycles" +"effects on climate". The search returned 216 links. Several dozen other links, especially those from Geophysical Research letters, provided even more detailed information. A search of "Geophysical Research Letters" +"climate change" produced 236,000 links - too many to evaluate for this article.

Some of the data is supplied by global warming proponents, yet in reading the information, it is frequently self-contradictory, and occasionally deliberately mis-interpreted. One should maintain an attitude of studious skepticism in reading ANYTHING about global climate change.

There's also far less "agreement" than global warming proponents wish to acknowledge. Bjorn Lamborn's book, "The Skeptical Environmentalist", is just one example. Here are a few others: Human Activity and Global Warming, by Kevin Langdon, Climate Science: Roger Pielke Sr. Research Group Weblog, and almost anything from the Geophysical Research Letters.

There are also other sources of CO2 than human activity. A few include volcanic activity, the oceans, and plant and animal decay. Most of these introduce more CO2 into the Earth's atmosphere than do human activity. Volcanic activity also ejects sulfur compounds, methane, and particulate matter. Sulfur compounds and particulate matter block sunlight, and provide for greater cloud formation, which reduces overall solar heating.

Methane is frequently released by human activity as well as carbon dioxide. Yet the main source of methane in the Earth's atmosphere, according to a recent scientific report, is bovine flatulence (Science research: Reducing methane output of ruminants). The article needs to be corrected: in the first paragraph, it states:

"Scientists a the Rowett Research Institute are examining a novel way of reducing greenhouse gas emissions: by reducing cow flatulence. They say that methane contributes about 18% of overall greenhosue gas emissions: 60% of that comes from agriculture, 10% from rotting landfill, mining coal, and oil. Cows contribute half of agricultural contribution, that is 9% of global methane emissions."

It's hard to take this article serious, since it's posted at "IndiMedia", a notoriously biased organization. They also have a problem getting their math correct. If methane contributes about 18% of overall greenhouse gas emissions (questionable), and 60% comes from agriculture, and cows contribute half of agricultural contributions, then cows contribute 30% of all methane emissions, and 5.4% (30% of 18%) of overall greenhouse gas emissions. That's a big difference from 9% of methane emissions. Errors like this, especially such obvious errors, destroy an organization's credibility (if it existed in the first place). At the same time, methane emissions from bovine flatulence MAY play a part in global climate change. It's good that such studies are being done, and that scientists have found ways to alter these numbers. The changes will probably have extremely negligable impact, however, since methane makes up less than one percent (1%) of total greenhouse gasses.

There may be global climate changes taking place - in fact, few climate scientists doubt it. The reason those changes are occurring, and how, is what is in doubt. Recent studies show that the sun plays a far greater role in global climate activity than previously thought. We're also learning that there are far more variables affecting climate than previously thought. The role of cosmic rays in cloud formation was a considerable surprise to many climate scientists. Too many people were too quick to blame mankind for something that is not within mankind's ability to control. It also once again reinforces the need to be skeptical in dealing with incomplete and conflicting data, and those trying to force political decisions from such data.