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Monday, March 29, 2010
Southern Poverty Law Center Officially Declared “Left-Wing Hate Group”
By J. Matt Barber

Though always left of center, the Atlanta-based Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) once had a reputation as a fairly objective civil rights group. Founded by direct-marketing millionaire Morris Dees and partner Joseph Levin Jr. in 1971, the SPLC made important and honorable contributions to many of the historic civil rights gains of the 20th Century. According to its own materials, the SPLC was “internationally known for tracking and exposing the activities of hate groups.” 
 
Alas, “power corrupts,” as it goes, and the SPLC, having amassed tremendous power and wealth over the years, has regrettably become corrupt to its core. By way of an ever-escalating wave of “us-versus-them” money-grubbing schemes, Today’s SPLC has morphed into a far-left political activist outfit, famous for promoting a panoply of extreme liberal causes.
 
Ken Silverstein, writing for Harper's Magazine, addressed this untoward metamorphosis in 2000: “Today’s SPLC spends most of its time – and money – on a relentless fund-raising campaign, peddling memberships in the church of tolerance with all the zeal of a circuit rider passing the collection plate. ‘He's the Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker of the civil rights movement,’ renowned anti-death-penalty lawyer Millard Farmer says of Dees, his former associate, ‘though I don’t mean to malign Jim and Tammy Faye.’
 
“The American Institute of Philanthropy gives the Center one of the worst ratings of any group it monitors,” continued Silverstein. “Morris Dees doesn't need your financial support. The SPLC is already the wealthiest civil rights group in America, though [its fundraising literature] quite naturally omits that fact. … ‘Morris and I...shared the overriding purpose of making a pile of money,’ recalls Dees’s business partner, a lawyer named Millard Fuller (not to be confused with Millard Farmer). ‘We were not particular about how we did it; we just wanted to be independently rich.’” (You say Fuller. I say Farmer. The two Millards say “call the whole thing off.”) 
 
So, what happens when a dragon slayer – paid per dragon head – runs out of real dragons to slay? Well, he invents new ones, of course. Gotta keep those sprinklers-a-sprinklin.’ (According to Harper’s, “Dees bought a 200-acre estate appointed with tennis courts, a pool, and stables.” SPLC’s 2008 Form-990 shows net assets of over 219 million at the beginning of that year. Yup, there’s a spate to be made in the hate trade.)   
 
Silverstein explains:       
 
“The Ku Klux Klan, the SPLC’s most lucrative nemesis, has shrunk from 4 million members in the 1920s to an estimated 2,000 today [year 2000], as many as 10 percent of whom are thought to be FBI informants. But news of a declining Klan does not make for inclining donations to Morris Dees and Co., which is why the SPLC honors nearly every nationally covered ‘hate crime’ with direct-mail alarums full of nightmarish invocations of ‘armed Klan paramilitary forces’ and ‘violent neo-Nazi extremists…’”
 
But as the real dragons dry-up, new dragons emerge: “Tea Party” conservatives; Evangelical Christians; anti-abortion zealots and anti-gay bigots (read: pro-life and pro-family traditionalists); and, of course, gun-toting, knuckle-dragging 2nd Amendment rednecks. All bundled together – courtesy of the SPLC and Janet “the system worked” Napolitano – in that neat little pejorative package know as – Dun-Dun-Dun! – THE RIGHT-WING EXTREMIST! (You know, basically Middle America.) 
 
So, sadly – shamefully, really – today’s SPLC has become nothing more than a “non-profit” extension of the black helicopter, Huffpo-wing of the Democratic Party – a gaggle of partisan hacks bent on lining their pockets, defaming good people (along with the bad) and filling DNC coffers. (SPLC Director Mark Potok even doubles as a Huffington Post columnist. Seriously. They make it that easy.)  
 
The real problem lies in the fact, however, that the SPLC holds itself out as an objective monitor of potentially violent or subversive hate groups. It presents to municipal, state and federal law enforcement, regular “intelligence files” and an annual “Year in Hate” report. Ostensibly, these reports contain facts – even actionable intelligence – aimed at helping law enforcement officials prevent and/or monitor potentially violent criminal activity.
 
Then? Perhaps. Now? Not so much.
 
In recent years the SPLC reports have been utterly tainted – weaponized and used against the leftist group’s ideological and political adversaries. This is a despicable, bad faith abuse of others’ good will, and of the SPLC’s past reputation.   
 
Case in point: Recently, the SPLC came under fire for comparing the “Tea Party” movement and other grassroots conservatives to “terrorists.” Potok slandered “Tea Party” goers, suggesting that “they are shot through with rich veins of radical ideas, conspiracy theories and racism,” and are widely linked to “hate” and “vigilante groups.” Of course there are always a few nuts in any movement, but clearly Potok’s intent was to defame tens of millions of patriotic “Tea Partiers,” simply because he disagrees with them.    
 
It was earlier reported that Janet Napolitano and the Department of Homeland Security relied upon similar reports by the SPLC in preparing the DHS’ own slanderous – now infamous – “Right Wing Extremist” report. You may recall: it painted pretty much all conservatives with that broad, multi-colored brush of “domestic terrorism.” (The report was later pulled, and Napolitano forced to apologize in shame.)    
 
Even more recently, the SPLC launched another in a series of politically motivated attacks against a well-respected Christian organization. The group arbitrarily tagged as an official “hate group” Americans for Truth about Homosexuality (AFTAH).
 
AFTAH promotes biblical morality, opposes the radical homosexual activist lobby and publicly decries both violence and hatred against homosexuals or anyone else. Although it has been in operation for a number of years, the SPLC only recently labeled AFTAH a “hate group” after being pressured by the Chicago-based “Gay Liberation Network” to do so.
 
GLN is a fringe group of self-described Marxists and sexual anarchists best known for disrupting peaceful Christian gatherings with raucous, bullhorn laden protests. In a twist most ironic, GLN leader Bob Schwartz once threatened AFTAH founder Peter LaBarbera in front of witnesses, telling him that if the police weren’t present at a rally, he would have pushed LaBarbera into oncoming traffic. (“Hate crime, anyone?” Love that “tolerance” and “diversity.” Where’s the SPLC when you need them?)
 
You can only cry wolf so many times before people begin to ignore you. Today, the SPLC’s “hate group” reports have begun to resonate almost exclusively within a far-left echo chamber. Newsflash: Moveon.org wants Bush tried as a “war criminal,” Charlie Sheen thinks the U.S. government was behind 9/11 and, yes, the SPLC has once again awarded its now meaningless “hate group” distinction to yet another conservative organization with which it is admittedly – in every way – both politically and ideologically opposed. Who would’ve thunk it? 
 
Don’t get me wrong. Again, in the past, the SPLC has actually done some good by identifying and monitoring real hate groups such as the KKK, neo-Nazis and Skin Heads.
 
But now, regrettably, the SPLC has traded in its limited usefulness for radical left-wing activism. It has become much like that which it previously sought to expose. Today it uses the very tactics employed by white nationalists and other bona fide hate groups to malign large groups of people whom the SPLC most decidedly “hates.”
 
It’s nauseatingly transparent. With empty, ad hominem attacks and pejorative “hate group” smears, the SPLC strives to politically marginalize its ideological opponents. It’s a cynical “guilt-by-false-association” scheme, through which the SPLC hopes – in the public mind’s eye – to equate Christians, “Tea Party” conservatives and other traditionalists to the KKK and neo-Nazis.
 
Still, in going after Americans for Truth, the GLN surprisingly betrayed its SPLC ally by publicly acknowledging SPLC’s nefarious tactics. GLN boasted that this was the strategy all along. The Gay Liberation Network’s stated goal in goading the SPLC to label AFTAH a “hate group” was to “help assist” in AFTAH’s “political marginalization.”
 
Of course, by kowtowing to an already deeply marginalized GLN; by so obviously abusing its once-respectable reputation; and by spending its last remaining political capital on such folly, the SPLC has only succeeded in further marginalizing itself.
 
But, as they say: What’s good for the goose… Let’s try it on for size. It’s a “hate group,” mudslinging good time! In exercise of the SPLC’s trademark “I-know-you-are-but-what-am-I” criterion for arbitrarily determining “hate group” status, I hereby declare the Southern Poverty Law Center an “anti-Christian, anti-conservative hate group.” There, it’s official. Try it. It’s fun!  
 
But seriously, if AFTAH is a “hate group,” then so is Liberty Counsel, Focus on the Family, Family Research Council, American Family Association, the Southern Baptist Convention and the Roman Catholic Church. Any group that observes and defends traditional sexual morality would have to be labeled such.
 
Heck, for that matter, so would the U.S. Armed Forces, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the FDA. These groups publically expose the undeniable medical and societal pitfalls associated with the homosexual lifestyle and, therefore, must be “hate groups,” right?  
 
Of course, like any bully, the SPLC only goes after those it believes it can push around. But really, it confers a badge of honor upon every legitimate Christian and conservative organization it so disingenuously mislabels “hate group.” It’s a tacit admission by the SPLC that these groups represent a political threat; that their activities undermine the SPLC’s not-so-thinly-veiled, left-wing agenda. (Kind of like winning a conservative Grammy.) 
 
Indeed, I can’t speak for the many conservative and Christian organizations and ministries with which I’m associated. And of course I hate absolutely no one. Nonetheless, I’d like to officially request that the SPLC add my name to its spurious “anti-gay hate list.” It’s good for one’s conservative and biblical bona fides.”
 
(Hater Matt Barber hatefully sits on the hate-filled board of the official SPLC “hate group” Americans for Truth.) 
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Wednesday, March 24, 2010
Chutzpah!
By Harris Sherline

Chutzpah is a Yiddish word meaning gall, brazen nerve, effrontery, sheer guts, plus arrogance and, as Leo Rosten has written, no other word and no other language can do it justice. The following example is better than 1,000 words...

THE ESSENCE OF CHUTZPAH...

A little old lady sold pretzels on a street corner for 25 cents each.
 
Every day a young man would leave his office building at lunch time, and as he passed the pretzel stand, he would leave her a quarter, but never take a  pretzel.
 
This went on for more than 3 years. The two of them never spoke.
 
One day, as the young man passed the old lady's stand and left his quarter as usual, but the pretzel lady finally spoke to him.
 
Without blinking an eye she said:  "They're now 35 cents."
 
That's Chutzpah!
 
Another example of Chutzpah is readily apparent in President Obama’s statement: "In the long run we can't continue to spend as if deficits don't have consequences, as if waste doesn't matter, as if the hard earned tax dollars of the American people can be treated like monopoly money, that's what we've seen time and time again, Washington has become more concerned about the next election than the next generation."
 
The unbelievable gall of the man!  After opening the spigot of government spending to the extent that in one year he has spent more money than the past four presidents combined, he has obligated the nation’s children and grandchildren to repay the debt created by the current generation, and now he tells us that tax dollars should not be treated like Monopoly money.
 
What is most astounding to me is the brazen chutzpah that Obama so frequently displays, saying one thing yet doing the exact opposite himself, at the same time lecturing the American people on right and wrong.
 
On December 8, 2009, speaking at the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C., President Obama said that his administration is, “taking responsibility for every dollar” it spends, and, “We’ve done what some said was impossible: preventing wasteful spending on outdated weapons systems that even the Pentagon said it didn’t want.  We’ve combed the budget, cutting waste and excess wherever we could.”
 
These claims are so outrageous that they literally take one’s breath away.
 
Other examples of Obama’s chutzpah include, among many others:
 
“When there is a bill that ends up on my desk as the president, you the public will have five days to look online and find out what’s in it before I sign it.” (June 22, 2007 at Manchester, N.H.).  After receiving the $787 billion, 1,027-page stimulus bill, and allowing members of Congress just a few hours to read it, it was made available online in a form that could not be readily searched.
 
Obama promised that he would reduce and/or eliminate the influence of lobbyists in Washington: “I am in this race to tell the corporate lobbyists that their days of setting the agenda in Washington are over.  I have done more than any other candidate in this race to take on the lobbyists – and won.  They have not funded my campaign, they will not run my White House, and they will not drown out the voices of the American people when I am president.”   
 
“We need earmark reform.  And when I’m president, I will go line by line to make sure that we are not spending money unwisely.”  When Obama signed the $410 billion omnibus bill for 2009, it contained more than 9,000 earmarks, amounting to some $7 billion.
 
“My administration is committed to creating an unprecedented level of openness in Government.  We will work together to ensure the public trust and establish a system of transparency, public participation, and collaboration…Government should be transparent.  Transparency promotes accountability and provides information for citizens about what their Government is doing…” 
 
Participating with the Democrat controlled Congress, president Obama has been a willing participant in hiding the health care initiative from the American public, including meeting with Congressional Democrat leaders in his office without allowing any Republicans to participate.  Another glaring example of the president’s outright duplicity and chutzpah.
 
In a recorded video during the campaign, Obama said that it was a violation of the Constitution for the president to attach “signing statements” to bills at the time they are signed into law.  Yet he attached his own “signing statement” to a $410 billion spending bill as he signed it.
 
This president is a virtual personification of the word, Chutzpah.  He can always be counted on to say one thing and do the opposite.  At least he’s consistent.
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Thursday, March 18, 2010
A Test of Their Mettle to Serve
By Any Caldwell

Many of us have experienced both delight and disappointment with our State Representatives, depending upon our expectation of their service in Sacramento.  Assemblyman Sam Blakeslee, who has served us well, is vacating his seat due to term limits.  Republican voters will have the chance to choose the republican nomination for his replacement in the June election.
 
I look at the election process akin to hiring somebody to work for us. The interview should be thorough and exacting!  It is a big job with huge responsibilities and outcomes that can affect us all for many years to come.
 
Personally, I have no interest in hearing sound bites, spin, rhetoric and hyperbole from candidates.  I want to know what they really believe and are they truly the best person for the job in view of their abilities and experience?
 
You must admit it is pretty hard to discern the truth about a candidate by attending a tea or a bbq, or by reading a mailer or watching a commercial controlled by the candidate!  But, perhaps you can find out during a real candidate debate and forum.  At least that is my hope as I serve as the moderator at an upcoming forum sponsored by the California Women for Agriculture and COLAB.  It is our intent that this forum would serve to help the public decide who they are going to vote for to represent us in Sacramento as our next Assembly representative- at least as it pertains to the Republican nomination! 
 
Due to the fact that the Democratic and Libertarian candidates are running unopposed, they will get their turn to face off against the winner of the republican primary later in the fall.
 
It is my intention that this forum will serve as a test of the candidates before a live audience.   I hope you will make every effort to attend and bring a friend!
 
The Forum is March 24 at the Santa Maria Fairpark from 5:30-7:30 p.m..  Two hours may seem like a long time but again, have you considered this as an interview for somebody that could be  representing you for the next two years?
 
The crisis in Sacramento is our crisis.  There is a very real threat that our State will be faced with two very stark choices- either declare bankruptcy or approve higher taxes.  No state has ever declared bankruptcy before, but we stand a good chance to be the first!  There are two laws standing in the way of the State raising some taxes, including Propositions 13 and 218.  However, each and every year concerted efforts arise to undermine the protections afforded taxpayers and in times of crisis the pressure can get pretty intense.   Who can we send as our representative that can withstand the heat? 
 
Bankruptcy or higher taxes would be the only choices presented to voters unless we and others of like mind can send representatives who will serve as stalwart champions of a third choice that should be presented to our legislature and our citizenry.  That is to let the economy recover by getting out of the way of the private sectors ability to create jobs through investment and development!
 
Similarly, sooner or later, every politician at every level of government is going to have to come to the realization that the salary, benefits and pension levels of public employees has become unsustainable (although I personally would carve out some exceptions for public safety). 
 
Who has the wherewithal to take on the public employee unions?   Find out!  Join me at the Santa Maria Fairpark on March 24! 
 
Andy Caldwell is the Executive Director of COLAB and a 41 year resident of the Central Coast.  For contact information, visit the COLAB website at www.colabsbc.org
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Wednesday, March 17, 2010
St. Patrick And His Day
Much of St. Patrick's history has been shrouded in the misty past. "He is credited with driving the snakes out of Ireland; triumphing over the pagan Druids and their supernatural powers and using a shamrock to explain the Christian mystery of the Holy Trinity.

Scholars say there likely never were snakes in Ireland, and as far as the Druids and Shamrock used as a teaching tool no one seems to have discovered those truths. But it is legend.

Patrick (389-461) was raised in a noble family and as a Roman citizen in the 4th century. He was kidnapped and enslaved by Irish pirates as a youth turning to God and Catholicism to salve his despair. After six years he escaped and returned home to the celebration of his parents. To their consternation to vowed to return to minister to his pagan captors and did rising to become a Bishop.

His travels and travails grew and became legendary. His celebration predated the Irish immigration to America when the potato famine decimated the Island. The first St. Patrick's Day was celebrated in the American colonies in 1737.

The Great Potato famine (Irish: an Gorta Mór, IPA: [?n? 'g???t?? 'm?o???], the Great Hunger[; an Drochshaol, [?n? 'd???x?hi?l?], the Bad Life) was a period of mass starvation, disease and emigration in Ireland between 1845 and 1852 during which the island's population dropped by 20 to 25 percent. Approximately one million people died and a million more emigrated from Ireland - many to America. The plight struck Europe in 1840 but Ireland where the potato was a staple of life was a tragedy.

Always religious many Irish turned to faith when they had little else. St. Patrick was even more revered.

St. Patrick's death is celebrated on March 17 with the wearing of the green as a symbol of Catholic faith and as sharp contrast to the hated Orange worn by the Protestants in the north. It is no accident the Irish flag is a tri-color of orange, white and green.
 
In America things did not go easy for the Irish immigrants and many a Paddy lost his job when celebrating and not working on March 17. But by the Civil War there were at least a half dozen Generals who fought. Since there have been many of Irish heritage such as: William Randolph Hearst, John L. Sullivan, Father Francis Duffy, William "Wild Bill" Donavan, Sam Houston, John Ford, John Huston, Grace Kelly, Tyrone Power, Errol Flynn, Bing Crosby and Spencer Tracy, and the list goes on.It was left to an American name Olcott whose granddaughter lives near by to write "When Irish Eyes Are Shining" what some call the Irish anthem.

It is up to each of us to wear the green or not but, there is little doubt that the Irish and St. Patrick will have their day and green beer an whiskey will flow as giant stories are told.
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Monday, March 8, 2010
Don’t Ask, Don’t Bleed
By J. Matt Barber

The U.S. military has always discriminated. There are a host of malignant behaviors such as illicit drug use or habitual criminality that can render a person ineligible to serve. As my father-in-law learned, there are also benign maladies such as vision impairment or flat feet that can bar an otherwise eligible applicant. Any number of behaviors or conditions with varying degrees of severity can dash one's hope of donning the uniform.
This is discrimination only insofar as "discriminating minds" with expertise in these matters have found that such restrictions are necessary to maintain excellence in our historically unparalleled fighting force.
In formal recognition of the long-established finding that "homosexuality is incompatible with military service," federal law – Section 654, Title 10 – objectively prescribes the following:
  • The primary purpose of the armed forces is to prepare for and to prevail in combat should the need arise;
  • Success in combat requires military units that are characterized by high morale, good order and discipline, and unit cohesion;
  • The prohibition against homosexual conduct is a long-standing element
  • The presence in the armed forces of persons who demonstrate a propensity or intent to engage in homosexual acts would create an unacceptable risk to the high standards of morale, good order and discipline, and unit cohesion that are the essence of military capability; and
  • There is no constitutional right to serve in the armed forces.
Indeed, federal courts have ruled over and again that a prohibition against homosexual conduct within the ranks of the military is both constitutional and justified.

So now that Barack Obama is president, what has changed? Is there something about "out and proud" homosexuality, hitherto absent or unseen, that suddenly makes it compatible with military service? Is there something about our military that has, for the first time in history, made it compatible with this particular lifestyle?
The answer to both is no.
 
The fact that "homosexual acts would create an unacceptable risk to the high standards of morale, good order and discipline" has not changed. Proponents of military homosexualization offer scant evidence to the contrary. In truth, the only thing that has changed is politics.
Reasons for incompatibility are manifold. They are firmly rooted in both common sense and in the "settled" anthropological, sociopolitical and medical sciences, as well as the theological arena. Taken alone, each provides ample justification for maintaining the status quo. Combined, they prove the case. For now – in the interest of brevity – we'll focus on but one: medical science.
Consider that current U.S. health regulations prohibit men who have sex with men (MSM – aka "gays") from donating blood. Studies conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration categorically confirm that if MSM were permitted to give blood, the general population would be placed at risk.
According to the FDA: "['Gay' men] have an HIV prevalence 60 times higher than the general population, 800 times higher than first-time blood donors and 8,000 times higher than repeat blood donors."
The FDA further warns: "['Gay' men] also have an increased risk of having other infections that can be transmitted to others by blood transfusion. For example, infection with the Hepatitis B virus is about 5-6 times more common, and Hepatitis C virus infections are about 2 times more common in ['gay' men] than in the general population."
 
A 2007 CDC study further rocked the homosexual activist community, finding that, although "gay" men comprise only 1-to-2 percent of the population, they account for an epidemic 64 percent of all syphilis cases.
Do the math: If "gays" are allowed to serve openly – as to appease leftists' euphemistic demands for "tolerance" and "diversity" – how much more would soldiers in the field – where battlefield blood transfusions and frequent exposure to biohazards are commonplace – face pointless peril?
All things considered (and we've only scratched the surface), is it any wonder that, according to a 2008 Military Times survey, almost 10 percent of currently enlisted personnel say that should "gays" be allowed to serve openly: "I would not re-enlist or extend my service." Furthermore, 14 percent warn: "I would consider not re-enlisting or extending my service." The potential exodus of up to 14 percent of military personnel from our all-volunteer services would be devastating.
 
When we apply these uncompromising medical and administrative realities to the "gays in the military" debate, we find that, objectively, and based solely upon medical science and the imperative to maintain good order and unit cohesion, homosexual behavior and military service remain today as oil and water.
Yet, inexplicably we see reckless movement from this administration, liberals in Congress and even a handful of high-ranking military commanders toward military homosexualization. This type of San Francisco-style social experimentation within the ranks of the armed services would demonstrably weaken, not strengthen, our military, jeopardizing national security.
In a purely civilian world perhaps we can afford to grant liberal social engineers a manageable level of latitude to play fast and loose with wistful "gay rights" rhetoric. However, it's an entirely different proposition when bad behaviors place others – particularly those who've already waged life and limb for country – at both an unnecessary and avoidable level of risk.
 
For these reasons (and many more) allowing practitioners of the homosexual lifestyle to serve openly in our armed services should not and must not be "tolerated."
Mr. President, it's your sworn duty to place national security above misguided ideology and extreme special interests. It's high time you begin to take your job seriously.
 
Matt Barber is an attorney concentrating in constitutional law. He is author of the book "The Right Hook – From the Ring to the Culture War" and serves as Director of Cultural Affairs with Liberty Counsel. Send comments to Matt at jmattbarber@comcast.net. (This information is provided for identification purposes only.)
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Friday, March 5, 2010
We Have Met The Enemy and He Is Us
By Harris Sherline

One of the most valuable lessons about negotiating that I learned in over 50 years as an accounting professional and businessman was to always leave something for the other side. Successful negotiating is not about winning everything and leaving nothing for the other party. That’s one of the biggest mistaken assumptions made by many people and can sometimes lead to undesirable and unintended consequences.
 
Negotiating is not dictating. It’s a give and take process that, hopefully, can be a win-win for both parties. Otherwise, it becomes an exercise in power, where one side simply dictates to the other.
 
That said, the example of the day is the unions that represent government employees vs the government entities that employ them and indirectly the taxpayers who ultimately pay the bill. Think about it. What is the long-term outcome likely to be when unions obtain wages and benefits from the government that cannot be sustained over time?
 
Pogo’s well known quote comes to mind: “We have met the enemy and he is us.”   That seems to be the case with government employee unions, which have negotiated wage and benefit packages that are generally better than those of most the taxpayers who are forced to pay the bill.
 
The argument is sometimes made that government employees are also taxpayers. True enough. However, that would only be appropriate if they were paying the major share of the bill for their own compensation.
 
The problem has been a combination of government revenue streams that grew steadily for many years, coupled with compliant politicians who responded to the political muscle of the unions that have actively supported their campaigns for election. A particularly egregious example of this was the Santa Barbara City Council election a few years ago, in which the employees’ union asked candidates for City Council a series of questions but would not release their responses to the public.
 
Not only do the government employee unions have the power to strike but they also vote and, given the percentage of the workforce that now work for government, they represent a major portion of the voting population.
 
We, that is, our political leaders can resist, but they don’t. Ronald Reagan demonstrated the value of pushing back against the excessive demands of government employees when he fired 11,345 air traffic controllers in 1981, when they attempted what was then an illegal strike.
 
The result has been the steady growth of government employee costs, to the point that they can no longer be sustained. This is clearly demonstrated by the current plight of Santa Barbara County, which is currently grappling with a projected budget deficit of some $39 million. 
 
The percentage of government budgets that is allocated to employee retirement has been steadily increasing. At some point, those government entities that fail to stop approving expenditures they do not have the money to pay them will eventually go broke. When that happens, whatever retirement benefits they may be contractually bound to pay to their employees will be drastically reduced, of necessity, possibly by a bankruptcy court, if no other way.
 
But, both the unions and the various government entities seem to keep trying to “soldier on” as if there’s no tomorrow. One gets the impression that if no one looks, the problem will just go away. But, it won’t. There will be a day of reckoning, which appears to be approaching fast.
Writing in the Santa Maria Times, Julian J. Ramos noted (March 3, 2010): “Faced with the unenviable task of closing an overall $40 million budget gap, the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors agreed Tuesday to hold off giving direction to county staff on how to narrow that deficit… Most of the budget gap is linked to skyrocketing county employee retirement costs and shrinking property tax revenues, which makes up the majority of the board’s discretionary funding and supports most public-safety programs.”
Fifth District Supervisor Joe Centeno of Santa Maria said he would rather see cuts to non-essential services than see reductions in services to children and adults who need mental-health care. “We have to find a way to accommodate their needs,” he said.
It all sounds good, but no one seems to have any idea how to stretch the available funds to accomplish that without going broke in the process.
 
It’s time people in government (at every level) get real.
 
© 2010 Harris R. Sherljne, All Rights Reserved
 
Read more of Harris Sherline’s commentaries on his blog at www.opinionfest.com
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Friday, March 5, 2010
THE TEA PARTY MEETS THE REPUBLICAN PARTY
By Matt Kokkonen

The modern Tea Party movement hearkens back to the efforts of the Sons of Liberty more than 230 years ago. In 1773, the earlier patriots boarded the vessels of the East India Company and tossed tea overboard to protest high taxes imposed by the British Crown upon the American colonies.
 
Today, millions of Americans are fed up with the ever-expanding power of the central government in Washington, D.C. They have organized themselves into ‘Tea Parties” from coast-to-coast to protest out-of-control government spending, ever-increasing taxes, and a skyrocketing national debt. They are demanding an end to wasteful government programs, to the progressive debasement of the currency through inflation, and to the endless string of government “bailouts” of everything from Wall Street bankers to Detroit automobile manufacturers, all using taxpayer money. The TARP bailout of 2008 was probably the catalyst for the rebirth of the Tea Party movement. TARP represented a colossal, unprecedented transfer of wealth from hard-working, productive Americans to Wall Street investment bankers giving themselves million dollar bonuses as a reward for their disastrous financial decisions which drove the U.S. economy to the point of near-collapse.
 
The Obama administration does not see one sector of the American economy which should not be ripe for government management and takeover. It has little or no respect for the free market or the U.S. Constitution. The brazen attempt to nationalize one-sixth of the U.S. economy through the health care proposal has only stimulated the Tea Party movement and brought additional Americans to its ranks. Obama’s pork-laden “stimulus” package which claims to have created jobs in congressional districts which don’t even exist has further fueled the growth of the movement as has “cap and trade” which threatens to bankrupt American industry and send utility bills into the stratosphere. The
recent Republican victories in Virginia, New Jersey and especially overwhelmingly
Democratic Massachusetts can be at least partially attributed to the growing Tea Party movement and voters who reflect the philosophy of the movement
 
“Tea Party” voters are not agents of the Republican Party, as some on the left allege.
Nor are they paid stooges of the giant insurance companies or any other corporate entity.
In reality, the “Tea Party” movement is neither Republican or Democrat. It is bi-partisan
and non-partisan. It boasts a powerful libertarian strain. It rejects the Big Government agenda of both Democrats and Republicans. It is distrustful of the professional politicians in both major parties as it sees both parties as largely dominated by special interests. It has little sympathy for mega-corporations who feed at the government trough. Instead, “Tea Party” voters are Americans who want the restoration of limited Constitutional government. They embrace the vision of the Founders who saw a powerful central government as the chief enemy of the people’s liberties. They seek nothing more and nothing less than limiting the central government in Washington to its original, limited functions under the Constitution and the restoration of all those powers not delegated to the central government to the states or the people, per the Tenth Amendment. They are suspicious of central banking, favor sound money, and take to heart George Washington’s warnings about foreign intervention and President Eisenhower’s warnings about the “military-industrial” complex.
 
The Republican Party may be the current beneficiary of the “Tea Party” phenomenon, but the GOP can not take the “Tea Party” voters for granted. They must understand that should Republicans betray the fundamental principles of limited government and individual freedom which they claim to embrace, they will be targets of the “Tea Party” voters in the next election.
 
In 1960, a great Senator from Arizona named Barry Goldwater authored a book called “Conscience of a Conservative” which became the Bible of the modern-day conservative movement. On page 23, Goldwater writes: “I have little interest in streamlining government or in making it more efficient, for I mean to reduce its size. I do not undertake to promote welfare, for I propose to extend freedom. My aim is not to pass laws, but to repeal them. It is not to inaugurate new programs, but to cancel old ones that do violence to the Constitution, or that have failed in their purpose, or that impose on the people an unwarranted financial burden. I will not attempt to discover whether legislation is ‘needed’ before I have first determined whether it is constitutionally permissible. And if I should later be attacked for neglecting my constituents’ ‘interests,’ I shall reply that I
was informed their main interest is liberty and that in that cause I am doing the very best
I can.”
 
To this day, no better summary of conservative principles has ever been articulated.
 
The Republican Party is well-advised to embrace the “Tea Party” movement with enthusiasm and energy, recognizing that the movement can offer the GOP a much-needed opportunity to see where the Party has departed from the path of Goldwater and Reagan in recent years and how to restore its authentic heritage of being the party of small government.
 
Matt Kokkonen is a San Luis Obispo financial planner and citizen-activist. He organized the 2009 SLO Tea Party and was the 2008 Republican candidate for Congress against Lois Capps, winning 80,000 votes. Currently, he is a candidate for 33rd Assembly District.
Posted at 12:33 PM By admin | Permalink | Email this Post | Comments (0)



Monday, March 1, 2010
A different point of view on Climate Change
By Richard Fryer
 
Recently (November, 2009) Central Coast Family News published a two page article entitled “Climate
Change & Global Warming – The Science Behind It & Why It Matters” by Dr. Ray Weyman. This article
disturbed me as adding to the alarming predictions our media are so quick to publish. I believe this point of view distorts what we actually know as scientists, so I wrote a short reply. Central Coast Family News decided not to run this response.
 
I identify myself as a climate skeptic. I do not doubt that the earth is gradually warming. That process
appears to have been going on - with cycles of warming and cooling - since records began to be recorded in the mid 1800's - perhaps 1°F plus or minus over 150 years - and likely since the end of the little ice age according to records from Britain. 
 
Most local media carry a pretty uniform story about climate change - the risks, causes and possible cures. Other opinions are rarely heard - and perhaps rarely offered. I believe that responsible adults (especially parents and teachers) should make themselves aware of other points of view. My observation is that most media coverage falls into the 'gloom and doom' range, but any reasonable person must look at all sides.
 
So much is written about the behavior of the climate that it is certainly attractive to allow someone 'else' - perhaps the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) or the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to tell us what to believe. On this topic, however, it is risky to do so! The politicization of climate issues has taken us far into speculation and well away from consensus on facts.
 
The key questions are how large an impact is human behavior having on the climate and whether it is a
result of CO2 added to the atmosphere - primarily from using fossil fuels for energy.
 
The authors of the IPCC report have certainly pointed to a 'Carbon Footprint' as a cause of climate
change (hence AB 32 and the recent incredible EPA designation of CO2 as a pollutant). The reason you
don't see climate scientists on TV demonstrating the 'truth' of this connection is that they just don't have
one. They have a conjecture, and this is built into climate models. But the earth's climate system is
incredibly complex and interconnected. By comparison, the models are apparently oversimplified (one
climatologist says that "projections of future climate based on these models be viewed with much
caution").
 
The portion of the warming that is occurring that is a result of man's CO2 contribution MAY be
measurable but it certainly HAS NOT been measured. It seems as likely that it's 1% to 10% as that it's
50% or more. Other human impacts on the climate - aerosols (soot), reactive nitrogen, and land use
impacts such as agriculture - may turn out to be more important than CO2 emissions. These elements
and even climate features such as clouds are not in the models or included as a 'best guess' due to our limited data and understanding.
 
I am sympathetic with the problems faced by climate scientists. The 'climate signal' - that is, the 'real'
behavior of the climate (or net temperature increase) is very difficult to measure - even at a specific site.
Approximating a good 'value' for temperature shifts requires accounting for wide daily, seasonal and
weather influenced shifts at thousands of sites. Even time of day errors can mess up records. 
 
This figure is drawn from a current Journal of Climate article and is included only to show how noisy the
data is and how slight the temperature increase by comparison - and hence how difficult to derive
sweeping conclusions of causes. And this picture shows only the daily means - not the daily highs and
lows! (Side note - the author DID find that summers in the 1930's were unusually warm, and that
extremely harsh winters of the 19th century were moderating.) The net warming in this medium sized
Midwest college town (pop. about 52,000) over this period is less than 2 degrees F over 179 years!



Figure 1 - Daily mean temperatures in Manhattan Kansas from 1828 to 2009 (Journal of Climate article (in press)).
Climate scientists often use surface temperature records for analysis - that's the primary indicator in the
IPCC reports. Trends are quite difficult to establish - even at a single site, where local changes over the
years (additions of nearby buildings, growth of surrounding urban areas with factories and paved areas,
and even agricultural changes) can mask the tiny signal - which you remember may be about 1/100 of a
degree F over a year. Matt Kokkonen has recently pointed out that two NOAA weather stations in our
county are very poorly sited - yielding temperatures that are expected to be unreliable. And though
NOAA attempts to correct for this, the corrections themselves are obscure and have been shown to
sometimes be inaccurate to an extent that swamps the perceived warming.
 
Even so, you will have seen a variety of 'hockey stick' graphs that show temperature shooting up near the
end - just as the measured atmospheric CO2 curve shoots up. Several of the graphs that I am familiar
with have proven significantly inaccurate when critically examined by expert statisticians. You may know
that the key IPCC results provided by Briffa and Mann have both been shown to be somewhere between
misleading and just plain false. Even the Thompson ice core results relied upon in An Inconvenient Truth
that show a hockey stick in surface temperatures appear to have statistical problems - recent work shows
that Thompson's calibration method over a few cores do produce a hockey stick but a fuller set of cores
show almost none. In other words, the 'enormous increase(s) in temperature of the last half century'
referred to by Gore is probably just bad math! 
 
To sum up, given consistent, audited graphs, I think most people would conclude that the earth is
warming; that the trend is slight and has not changed much recently - the most recent 30 years looks little
different from many other 30 year periods!
 
I am quite disturbed by the scary quotes and tone of the media (and many others that urge extreme
action). The words used seem to be chosen to frighten (The earth is at a tipping point! The polar caps
are disappearing! California will turn to desert! Coastlines will be flooded! Coral reefs will dissolve in
acidic oceans!  Thousands of species are being extinguished!). None of these are realistic near term
threats – and may be wildly incorrect predictions! Why scare our kids when the science is still so far from
settled?
 
The California "Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006" (often called AB 32) is law and its economic
impact is expected to be very harmful to business - the hoped-for benefits are elusive. This nation's
House and Senate are currently deliberating a very intrusive and expensive cap-and-trade based
legislative package equally questionable in benefit. Even the prominent Dr. James Hansen of NASA
argued last December that congress' cap-and-trade legislative scheme is old, deceitful and ineffectual,
and he called most carbon offsets hokey. He sees the Copenhagen minimalist agreement as an
"opportunity to move to a more honest path.") The radical emphasis on CO2 reduction and cap-and-trade
legislation may be worse than useless - it may limit our ability to adapt and fight other causes that may
emerge. When has a big government program been terminated because it wasn't working?
 
You might ask - "What's wrong with being 'extreme' - isn't crying wolf worthwhile if it pushes the politicians
into action?" I think it's ALWAYS wrong to distort the facts no matter how urgently the need is felt. The
behavior of leading climate scientists in the 'climategate' fiasco has already harmed the image of climate
science. Science will be essential to solving many of man's problems in the future - scientists must be as
truthful as we know how to be! 
 
I would be happy to email a longer version of the article that includes extensive references - all derived
from standard climate journals. If you'd like a copy, ask at: anotherclimateview@gmail.com.
 
Richard Fryer worked at China Lake for the US Navy as a physicist and computer scientist for many
years. He has also taught Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at several colleges including a
few years at CalPoly. He has published several papers in these fields and has been a peer reviewer for
the Association of Computing Machinery. He has been a central coast resident for over 15 years.
Posted at 09:37 AM By admin | Permalink | Email this Post | Comments (0)



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