Archive for October 2010

Obama: Only 2 Years Behind Random Bloggers

Me, in January 2009:

But there is an even better reason why the stimulus bill will never work:   it is simply impossible to break ground on any new government construction project in less than a year.A year from now, any truly new incremental project in the stimulus bill will still be sitting on some planners desk with unfinished environmental impact assessments, the subject of arguments between multiple government agencies, tied up in court with environmental or NIMBY challenges, snarled in zoning fights, subject to conflicts between state, county, and city governments, or all of the above.  Most of the money will have been spent by planners, bureaucrats, and lawyers, with little to show for in actual facilities.

Obama, in October 2010

In the magazine article, Mr. Obama reflects on his presidency, admitting that he let himself look too much like "the same old tax-and-spend Democrat," realized too late that "there's no such thing as shovel-ready projects"

How smart can the guy be if it takes him two years to figure out what random schmoes like me thought was obvious?

A Brief Summary of the Skeptic's Position

My new column is up at Forbes, and attempts a brief layman's summary of the science of the climate skeptic's position.

I Agree Completely

Nick Rahall, a Democratic Congressmen from WV and a supporter of the global warming alarmist position (probably an issue in coal-dependent WV this election cycle) gave an analogy I think is right on:

"Climate change "” to deny it exists, to just put your head in the sand and, "˜oh no, it doesn't exist, what are you talking about,' is about like standing on the floor of Macy's during the month of December and claiming Santa Claus doesn't exist.

While he was trying to actually denigrate climate skeptics, in fact he confirms exactly what we believe.  Saying Santa Claus does not exist is absolutely correct, but doing so would get in the way of everyone around us making money off the myth.  Via Climate Depot

Nice Place to Play Soccer

One of the perils of being a small school is that sports requires a lot of travel.   In Arizona (unlike Texas where I grew up) the private schools do not have their own prep league for athletics, but play with the public schools based on their size (e.g. 1A to 5A).  Ours is a 1A school that generally plays 2A because we get more teams to play that way.  In soccer we play 3A, which can be a tough road when a school that has barely 120 boys in the high school play schools with 900+ kids.  But we made it to the state finals last year, so we hold our own.

Anyway, last week we actually played a school within the boundaries of Grand Canyon National Park, just a stones throw from the south rim visitors center and the El Tovar lodge.   That was awesome - nothing like post-game parent cocktails on a deck looking at the sunset over the rim of the canyon.  (I am on the road but will post a few photos next week).

The Grand Canyon is spectacular, but there is something about looking down into it that reduces its beauty.  You only really see its real drama hiking down into it (e.g. the Bright Angel or the harder but more beautiful Kaibab trail from the South Rim).  If you want to talk about really spectacular scenery, I think Sedona beats the Grand Canyon, at least from the rim.

This week my son's team played a small school in Sedona, a pretty old boarding school called Verde Valley HS.  Its got an IB program and a lot of horses and a drop-dead location, and has been getting some popularity in this area and in SoCal.  Anyway, I have seen some nice kids fields, but this one was pretty spectacular.  Unfortunately I only had my crappy cell phone camera but here is a sample:

Death of the Commerce Clause

A century of Progressive attacks on the Constitution have come to this.  I am just going to quote Radley Balko in full:

"¦.a federal judge has just ruled that the federal government can force me to purchase a product from a private company, under the argument that my not purchasing that product affects interstate commerce.

For those of you who support this ruling: Under an interpretation of the Commerce Clause that says the federal government can regulate inactivity, can you name anything at all that the feds wouldn't have the power to regulate?

And if you can't (and let's face it, you can't), why was the Constitution written in the first place? As I understand it, the whole point was to lay out a defined set of federal powers, divided among the three branches, with the understanding that the powers not specifically enumerated in the document are retained by the states and the people.

But if that set of powers includes everything you do (see Wickard and Raich), and everything you don't do (what Obamacare proponents are advocating here), what's the point in having a Constitution at all?

Raich was bad enough.  In that case the high court said the Feds could regulate home-grown marijuana that was grown and consumed entirely in California because that activity might still affect prices in other states (presumably because Californians could have smoked imported weed if they had not grown their own).  (I can't understand how anyone can call this a "conservative" court when it handed down Raich.  Clarence Thomas wrote in Raich:

Respondents Diane Monson and Angel Raich use marijuana that has never been bought or sold, that has never crossed state lines, and that has had no demonstrable effect on the national market for marijuana. If Congress can regulate this under the Commerce Clause, then it can regulate virtually anything and the Federal Government is no longer one of limited and enumerated powers.

Nobody Likes Having Competitors, but Only the State Can Ban Them

Private companies often come running to the government to protect themselves from competition.  Sometimes they are successful, and get government licensing and certification requirements that help create barriers to entry that protect incumbents  (if incumbents are lucky, they will actually get to control the licensing and certification board and testing process).

But whether or note private companies have the political muscle to get this kind of protection, the government almost always protects itself whenever it embarks on any sort of quasi-commercial enterprise.  The ban on first class mail delivery competition is one example (as an aside, when email began making an end run around this ban, the USPS actually made a [fortunately failed] play to be the monopoly email provider).  In Denver, there was a story a while back that after they built a new toll road, they added traffic lights and lowered the speed limit on a parallel free road to drive more people to the toll road.

Carpe Diem brings another example:

"When the old arena for the Orlando Magic opened 21 years ago, it was common for Parramore neighborhood residents who lived nearby to charge Magic fans and concert-goers to park on their property. But five weeks ago, the Orlando City Council approved standards that will likely keep most Parramore homeowners from profiting on parking near the Orlando Magic's new $480 million Amway Center (pictured above).

Among other things, property owners must pay a $275 application fee and provide a business tax receipt. Lots must have an attendant, signs, proper lighting and a paved, gravel or grass surface free of potholes or ruts. City officials also recommend hiring security. Even when all those requirements are met, temporary parking lots are allowed only during an event expected to draw at least 5,000 attendees. So far, five applications have been approved, but all are for large properties such as churches, not homeowners.

The city, meanwhile, has doubled its event-parking rate to $20 at the two garages closest to the Amway Center; elsewhere, event parking at city garages and lots is $10."

The last sentence explains the first two. They are trying to charge an above market price for parking, so must constrain supply to avoid being undercut.

Ex Post Facto Law

Ex Post Facto law, meaning law retroactively criminalizing past practices, is explicitly banned in the Constitution.  But big government folks have found a way around this prohibition through the massive government regulatory bureaucracies that have been created over the last half-century.

Here is a great example.  In short, an online site accepted advertising from a company that the FTC later went after for deceptive advertising.  Note, the online site was not involved, they just ran the add, just as your web site may be running ads or Google adwords right now.  The FTC actually settled the case with the company accused of wrongdoing for $0.  So obviously, they were not that worked up about the ad.  But in order to establish a new legal principal that sites that run advertising can be liable for the entire liability for a deceptive ad, they went after the web site for $6 million!

Forget for a moment what bad policy this is -- can you imagine being fully liable for any fraud involved with any company that runs an add on your site?   But beyond that, the basic approach -- of legislating from the administrative branch, abuse of power to cow small companies and individuals through threat of bankrupting legal costs, and ex post facto rule-making -- is just staggeringly scary.

This is why I cringe every single day whenever the phone rings in my small business.

My suspicions were confirmed when I looked up the law the FTC said I had violated, a law that was vague and didn't seem to have much to do with what the FTC was accusing me of. And it certainly did not say that the FTC was entitled to the amount of money it wanted. My lawyers explained that the amount the FTC was suing for was based not on laws that Congress had passed but seemed to be based on what judges had awarded in previous cases over the years.

Moreover, in our case, the FTC was now trying to go beyond what previous judges had awarded. What lay behind their actions seemed to be this: they were trying out a new legal theory. They wanted to establish a new principle "“ that a person who was in any way connected to the advertising at issue, no matter how trivial their involvement, was liable for the entire amount of all purchases of the product by consumers. I felt as if I had been struck by lightning. I was the sacrificial lamb. I had the rotten luck to be chosen, of all people, to be the test of their novel legal theory. [...]

I'm all for getting tough on deceptive advertising, including Internet fraudsters. But what seems terribly wrong is the FTC playing Goliath where they just outspend everyone they go after, regardless of whether there was any wrongdoing. Unfortunately, that appears to be the direction in which they're going. David Vladeck, the new head of the Bureau of Consumer Protection (the person I met with), advocates pursuing test cases "even if the legal theory has not been accepted by the court prior to that time." (see http://www.abanet.org/antitrust/at-source/10/04/Apr10-VladeckIntrvw4-14f.pdf) In other words, you may be violating a law that doesn't exist yet. That is downright scary. The only thing the FTC is going to "prove" by "winning" these cases is that they can establish their new principles by bankrupting anybody but the very wealthiest Americans "“ the only people who could afford to take them on.

Thugocracy

Apparently, Ray LaHood's personal preference is that no one talk in the car, even with a hands-free device (it is uncertain whether he is OK with us talking to fellow passengers.)

"I don't want people talking on phones, having them up to their ear or texting while they're driving," LaHood said this week calling for research on hands-free systems. Hands-free phone conversations are a "cognitive distraction,"

And because Ray LaHood is US Transportation Secretary, we may soon all be forced to abide by Mr. LaHood's personal preference.

Irony Alert

Via Overlawyered, from here

Taiwan's Intellectual Property Office said it had disqualified Wu Chih-wei and asked him to return the medal and prize money he got for winning the "Protect Copyright" poster-design contest, after Wu admitted he had copied the design he submitted.

Unlearned Lesson

Kevin Drum is, by my description (I don't know what he would call himself) a leftish technocrat.  My read on him is that he sees a beneficial role for government via smart people sitting at the top and optimizing systems (e.g. the economy, energy policy, climate, etc).  This is a consistent with a century-old branch of American progressivism, that distrusts chaotic outcomes of individual action and believes top-down optimization is called for.

The problem with this approach (discussed by Hayek and many others) is such top down optimization is impossible for a variety of reasons, from information to incentives.  There is simply a myriad of examples where supposedly smart government officials attempted such technocratic tinkering and only ended up with a mess.  I always supposed folks who argue for more of the same simply mentally ignored these examples.

But here is Kevin Drum lamenting the insanity of ethanol subsidies (for which he should be praised).  Ethanol subsidies are absolutely counter-productive, but have been central to our top down US energy policy for over a decade.

So what I can't understand is how he keeps these two ideas in his head simultaneously -- of this ideal of brilliant actors managing the economy from above and the reality of ethanol policy.  I suppose he could argue, as many technocrats do, that if only his guys were in power, everything would be different.  But his guys are in power, and in fact his guys have been the main drivers and supporters of ethanol subsidies.

I have written a number of times about why even smart guys fail to do smart things when plopped down in the government.

Government: The Solution to Failed Programs is to Double Their Size

Two great examples:

1.  Barney Frank is supposedly going to remake housing finance after having helped destroy it by his actions over the last 20 years.  In particular, after his polititization of Fannie Mae's business goals over the last 20 years, and constant fight to prevent any kind of oversight of Fannie and Freddie, which has led to over a hundred billion dollars and perhaps as high as $400 billion in taxpayer losses, Barney is going to do more of the same with Frannie and Freddie now that the government has full control of these entities.

2.  A NY state child protective services study shows that all their resources provide little real benefit to endangered children.  The solution -- do even more of the same.

And don't forget the classic example, the 10x increase in public school funding to no apparent benefit:

Exploiting the Laborers

I hate blog posts that begin this way, but I will do it anyway:  Imagine that Wal-mart, Target and a hundred other major retailers all got together and agreed to an industry plan to hold down workers's wages.  Anyone involved with even rudimentary economics training would know that there would be enormous incentives for individual retailers to "cheat", ie offer wages above the agreed to levels to try to get a particular advantage hiring the best employees.  So imagine that the cartel actually forms an enforcement body, that goes around the country levying fines and punishments against any individual participant who breaks ranks and tries to share some of the largess with their workers.

Now imagine the NY Times rooting the enforcement body on, cheering it when it adopts a new get-tough stance on organizations that pay its workers too much.  Hard to imagine, but that is exactly the case in this article, where the Times writes about the NCAA's new efforts to get tough on what it calls "recruiting violations" but in any other industry would be called "trying to pay the workers more than the cartel allows."

NCAA division I sports are made up of a 100+ mostly public institutions that make a fortune off of their athletic programs, particularly men's football and basketball.  Large institutions like the University of Texas or Ohio State reap tens of millions each year in ticket sales, TV deals, merchandising sales, and Bowl/tournament winnings.  One of the reasons this is so profitable is that they basically pay the key workers who generate this income close to zero.  Sure, they give them a scholarship, but what is the marginal cost to, say, the University of Texas for providing a few hundred free educations on top of their 40,000 paid customers?  This is roughly equivalent to McDonald's paying its employees nothing more than a couple of happy meals each day.

While many of these university's athletes will make nothing after college playing sports, the ones involved in these "violations" are typically athletes who are offered millions, even tens of millions of dollars the moment they leave college.  In effect, these colleges are getting tens of millions of dollars of labor virtually for free, and so the incentives to cheat on their cartel deal are huge, which is why the cartel enforcers have to be so aggressive in stopping under-the-table payments to the grossly underpaid workers.

It is an ugly process, and one wonders why so many folks support it when they would be appalled at such practices in any other industry.

I Warned You -- Here Comes the Corporate State

In a European-style corporate state, very large corporations (and their unions) get special protections, privileges, and exemptions, to the detriment of consumers, entrepreneurs, small businesses, and taxpayers.  Here we go, via Russ Roberts:

Nearly a million workers won't get a consumer protection in the U.S. health reform law meant to cap insurance costs because the government exempted their employers.

Thirty companies and organizations, including McDonald's (MCD) and Jack in the Box (JACK), won't be required to raise the minimum annual benefit included in low-cost health plans, which are often used to cover part-time or low-wage employees.

The Department of Health and Human Services, which provided a list of exemptions, said it granted waivers in late September so workers with such plans wouldn't lose coverage from employers who might choose instead to drop health insurance altogether.

Without waivers, companies would have had to provide a minimum of $750,000 in coverage next year, increasing to $1.25 million in 2012, $2 million in 2013 and unlimited in 2014.

"The big political issue here is the president promised no one would lose the coverage they've got," says Robert Laszewski, chief executive officer of consulting company Health Policy and Strategy Associates. "Here we are a month before the election, and these companies represent 1 million people who would lose the coverage they've got."

Actually, the real political question is why McDonald's gets special treatment, but the folks who run the deli downstairs in my building, who effectively compete with McDonald's, does not get to operate under the same law, merely because they are not large enough to get the President's special attention.

When Blowing Up Children Seems Like a Good Idea

My new Forbes column is up this week, and discusses the 10:10 video as a logical outcome of the years of ad hominem attacks hurled at skeptics.

Perfect the Enemy of the Good

For years, my observation has been that the perfect has been the enemy of the good in energy policy.   Now, I don't support the feds making energy policy at all, but given that they do, too often the government has ignored the 80/20 solution that would get most of the desired benefits for a fraction of the cost of alternatives being considered.

For example, in California, the state could have made a ton more progress reducing vehicle emissions had they  accepted a low emissions standard decades ago that allowed for things like compressed natural gas (CNG) as a vehicle fuel.  However, environmentalists insisted on zero emissions, and thus only electric vehicles passed muster, and the technology simply has not been there  (not to mention that at the margin, new electric vehicles in the state would at best be powered by natural gas and at worst by Arizona and Nevada coal plants, making the very concept of "zero-emissions" crazy).

I am thinking of this by looking at this chart from the EIA of CO2 emissions per BTU for various fuels (pounds per million BTU):

Coal (anthracite) 227
Coal (bituminous) 205
Coal (lignite) 215
Coal (subbituminous) 213
Diesel fuel & heating oil 161
Gasoline 156
Propane 139
Natural gas 117

Looking at this, and given the huge amounts of natural gas in this country, one might reasonably expect that a logical policy suggestion would be to try to provide incentives to substitute natural gas for coal and diesel fuel.  The technology exists right now, today, to produce electricity with gas and to power large vehicles with CNG  (and focusing on truck fleets eases the distribution issues with CNG).

But of course absolutely no one in the global warming movement is suggesting this (except for T. Boone Pickens, and he is involved in climate bills as a rent-seeker, not as an advocate).  You see, we want "renewable" energy, and natural gas does not fit.  Though for some reason ethanol does, despite the fact that ethanol probably creates more CO2 than it reduces.

No point here really, since I am not advocating any sort of energy policy.  But it reinforced to me why no one should claim as a justification for energy policy that somehow the system will be more efficient if a few smart people design it top-down, when one of the most obvious 80/20 solutions to Co2 reduction is not even considered.

Quote of the Day

I am sure this will garner much sympathy from all of you

"[Attorney George Fleming] said he had worked too long and too hard for a lousy $41 million," said Jim Doyle, who left the firm after objecting to Fleming's unusual decision to include non-client expenses among those billed to clients.

Via Overlawyered.  Fleming is accused of padding his expenses in a class action settlement.

Life in the Corporate State

A European-style corporate state is typically ruled by a troika of large favored corporations, industrial and public employee unions, and long-time political insiders.  Most definitely excluded from power are consumers, entrepreneurs, small businesses, younger workers without seniority, and taxpayers.

I have argued that Obama is not a socialist, but is building a European-style corporate state.  Here is a great indicator, from my Princeton classmate Henry Payne:

For the first time in more than two years, SUV sales account for more than half of the U.S. auto market. ...

The trend comes even as Washington issued a new edict that vehicles average an absurd 62 mpg by 2025. The current absurd standard -- 35 mpg by 2015 -- has forced manufacturers to invest billions in new small-car development.

Today, manufacturers are in defiance of their own customers -- their marketing departments churning out small-car ads touting their new green products. This puts automakers in a tough spot: Continue to make cars for the government, or listen to their customers.

For now, manufacturers are sticking with the government, telling the Detroit News that "with a slew of new cars coming out, such as the Chevrolet Cruze, the Ford Fiesta and a new Ford Focus early next year, car sales are likely to outpace truck sales in the coming months."

If you want a deeper look at how legislation is made in the corporate state, read this fascinating (but very long) New Yorker report on the efforts to pass a climate bill this past year.  The author writes it in the spirit of lamenting lost opportunities, but I read it as a great inside view of the sausage factor.  Do we really want to give these guys more power?

In the same spirit, I commented thus on Kevin Drum's post discussing the growth of campaign spending this year, and lamenting that it is going to the nasty old Coke team instead of the Pepsi team:

There is a really simple solution to this -- reduce the coercive power of government to break individuals or corporations or to hand them windfalls, and all this spending goes away.

The spending has not gone up because the rules changed, because the Supreme Court rules did not substantially affect this kind of campaign spending (there is a ton of sloppiness in the media on this point).

The spending has gone up because Obama & the Democratic Congress has put more of the US economy in play in their attempts to form a European-style corporate state. When Obama and Pelosi engage in populist public speeches vilifying whole sectors of the economy, groups are going to try to defend themselves from the onslaught, either by throwing the current office holders out or buying the favor of those they can't unseat.

What Kind of Freaking Lawyer is This Lady?

Everyone seems to know who Gloria Allred is, though I have never heard of her.  Apparently she is opposed to Meg Whitman getting elected (I am not even sure - is Whitman running for Senator or Governor?).  But her approach is weird.  She attacks Whitman for not identifying and firing an illegal immigrant fast enough.  There is no way for this accusation to be true given the timeline Allred outlines unless Ms. Whitman's illegal immigrant maid at some point farbricated or falsified documents.  In specific, Allred is claiming Whitman did not act fast enough when the Feds sent her a letter saying there was a problem with her maid's social security number.  Implicit in all this is that Whitman's maid must have fabricated documentation and as a minimum provided a false or stolen social security number.

OK, all normal team pepsi - team coke political BS, except for this:  Whitman's maid is Allred's legal client.  Allred, in order to publicly score points on Whitman, is hanging her own client out to dry by as much as admitting her client engaged in identity theft.  The maid's lawyer is complaining that her client was not fired fast enough.  Unbelievable.  Is this the true state of legal ethics today?  And not a mention of this obvious ethical issue in the AP story.

My Vote for #1

I had the opportunity to go to the Oscars once, along with the Governor's Ball afterward (the year Eastwood won for Unforgiven).  When asked what certain folks looked like (e.g. Sharon Stone at the next table), my answer was inevitably "not as good as in their pictures."  Claudia Schiffer sat right in front of me in the theater and all I can remember is her huge bony anorexic spine sticking out like some kind of lizard.

The exception was Cindy Crawford.  This may be unbelievable, but she looked even better than in pictures.  I kid you not.  Here is a sample of why she is the greatest, via Tom Kirkendall (he claims to just be blogging on the quality of the commercial - yeah right).

Wherein I Agree With Glenn Greenwald

Greenwald on the ability of Presidents to have Americans assassinated:

During the Bush-era torture debates, I was never able to get past my initial incredulity that we were even having a "debate" over whether the President has the authority to torture peopleAndrew Sullivan has responded to some of the questions I posed about his defense of Obama's assassination program, and I realize now that throughout this whole assassination debate, specific legal and factual issues aside, my overarching reaction is quite similar:  I actually can't believe that there is even a "debate" over whether an American President -- without a shred of due process or oversight -- has the power to compile hit lists of American citizens whom he orders the CIA to kill far away from any battlefield.  The notion that the President has such an unconstrained, unchecked power is such a blatant distortion of everything our political system is supposed to be -- such a pure embodiment of the very definition of tyrannical power -- that, no matter how many times I see it, it's still hard for me to believe there are people willing to expressly defend it.

The whole post is an excellent defense of Constitutional protections and limited government.  If only he would treat the government's taking the product of peoples' labor with the same logic.

Updates on the Gory Gore Movie

When Bloggers are Too Young

I am not trying to be a crotchety old guy, but sometimes the quality of blog comment is affected by the fact that bloggers are too freaking young.  On any number of issues, from climate to politics, I see folks treating certain events as unprecedented that anyone with a memory of the seventies (or even the eighties) could put in much better context.

Here is a good example.  Dumb girl creates fake thesis rating college boys she slept with, grading them on their sexual pros and cons.  It inevitably gets in the wild and much angst and hilarity ensues.

But this kind of thing is old news.  I remember for example, in the late seventies or early eighties (can't find a link) a couple of women from Yale published a book on the boys at Yale and their sexual pros and cons, including a star-rating system.  And they published proudly and knowingly, no accidentally.

Al Gore Meets Movie Gore: Climate Alarmism Jumps the Bandersnatch

I suppose one cold say that climate alarmism jumped the shark years ago.  But they have certainly moved to a new level, one for which there is not even a term, in this video.  This video has everything - the government school teacher politically indoctrinating the kids, followed by bloody gory death dealt out to the kids who refuse to toe the government line.  I am not kidding.

When I first saw it, I was sure it was a skeptic satire, ala Jonathon Swift's 'A Modest Proposal,'  and I am still afraid that this may be some elaborate put-on because the video and its message -- that skeptics need to be killed -- is so obscene.   But apparently, according to this article at the Guardian, it is totally for real and includes contributions from some fairly prominent artists, as well as funding from the UK government and the 10:10 program  (a plea to reduce carbon emissions by 10% per year, eerily with a name probably purposely similar to 9-11).

Our friends at the 10:10 climate change campaign have given us the scoop on this highly explosive short film, written by Britain's top comedy screenwriter Richard Curtis, ahead of its general release....

Had a look? Well, I'm certain you'll agree that detonating school kids, footballers and movie stars into gory pulp for ignoring their carbon footprints is attention-grabbing. It's also got a decent sprinkling of stardust "“ Peter Crouch, Gillian Anderson, Radiohead and others.  But it's pretty edgy, given 10:10's aim of asking people, businesses and organisations to take positive action against global warming by cutting their greenhouse gas emissions by 10% in a year, and thereby pressuring governments to act.

"Doing nothing about climate change is still a fairly common affliction, even in this day and age. What to do with those people, who are together threatening everybody's existence on this planet? Clearly we don't really think they should be blown up, that's just a joke for the mini-movie, but maybe a little amputating would be a good place to start?" jokes 10:10 founder and Age of Stupid film maker Franny Armstrong.

But why take such a risk of upsetting or alienating people, I ask her: "Because we have got about four years to stabilise global emissions and we are not anywhere near doing that. All our lives are at threat and if that's not worth jumping up and down about, I don't know what is."

The latter claim is hilarious.  Over the next four years, CO2 levels will likely increase, if they stay on trend, from .0392% of the atmosphere to .0400% of the atmosphere.  I would love to see these so-called science-based folks demonstrate how the next .0008% shift in atmospheric concentration triggers the point-of-no return tipping point.  In actual fact, the have just latched onto the round number of 400ppm and declared, absolutely without evidence, that this number (which the Earth has crossed many times in the past) will somehow lead to a runaway chain reaction.

Anyway, I have teased it long enough,  here is the video.  Beware -- there is gore (no pun intended) here worthy of a zombie movie.

Wow, its sure good that the world has decided that skeptics are the mindless, thuggish, anti-science side of this debate, because if that had not already been made clear, we might think that key climate alarmism groups had lost their freaking minds.  It will be interesting to see if this gets any play in the US media -- my guess is it will not.  Magazines are happy to spend twenty pages dissecting the motives of the Koch family in funding skeptic and libertarian causes, but environmentalists get a free pass, even with stuff like this.

Lubos Motl is all over this, and has mirror sites for the video if (or more likely when) the video gets taken down. This is one of those propaganda offers that are the product of an echo chamber, with a group of like-minded people all patting themselves on the back only to be surprised at the inevitable public backlash.

I have mirrored the video here in case it gets a youtube takedown.

Update: As a reminder, this is not satire.  It is made by a group of true believers.  It was funded and approved and released by a climate alarmism group, which paid top dollar (including UK taxpayer funds) for a large professional team of actors, writers, and directors.  All interviewed participants, including the first little actor blown up, have stated how proud they were of the film and its contribution to educating people on the need for immediate action on global warming.

For the last hour, I have sat and tried to think if, as a skeptic, I had wanted to make a satire critiquing the excesses of global warming alarmism, could I have made a better video.  The only thing that might have made it better would have been if the final button-pusher was someone famous like James Cameron or Bono, who after then pushed the button climbed on their Gulfstream jet to fly home.  But that's just a quibble.   I have changed my opinion.  This may be the greatest skeptic video ever, and the Koch family didn't even have to pay a dime for it.  Thanks 10:10.

Update #2: This movie reminds me of nothing so much as Tarantino's Inglorious Bastards.  It is clearly not reality, but the author's fantasy.  Tarantino fantasizes about a group of jews kicking ass on the Nazi high command and ending the war early.  10:10 fantasizes about blowing up skeptics, in a video that, amazingly, is more blood-spattered than Tarantino's.

Update #3: The group pulls the video with a classic "I'm sorry you guys are so easily offended" apology.

Update #4: Unsurprisingly, Joe Romm (in the italics in this post) goes to the kindergarten argument of "he started it," arguing that the video is just the flip side of the stuff skeptics are doing all the time.  In making  his pitch, he shows the mindset that allowed this stupid film to get made.

I am not sure exactly what comparable films skeptics have produced that are similar, and the only example he can cite is Anthony Watt's blog post comments on the shooting of an eco-terrorist.  I did not even go back and look at Watt's comments, but I generally think that lots of people are too gleeful when suspected criminals, who are innocent before the law, are gunned down by police.

Never-the-less, its seems a stretch to equate  the offhand comments in real time of an independent blogger with a film involving probably a hundred people (including those who commissioned it in the 10:10 organization), commissioned in an official and thoughtful act (after all this had to be months in the works), and funded in part by the British government.  He takes the opportunity of his team's screw-up to launch this broadside on people like me (in bold no less).

None of this excuses that disgusting video.  But the difference is that those who are trying to preserve a livable climate and hence the health and well-being of our children and billions of people this century quickly denounce the few offensive over-reaches of those who claim to share our goals "” but those trying to destroy a livable climate, well, for them lies and hate speech are the modus operandi, so such behavior is not only tolerated, but encouraged.

Is anyone else getting tired of this working definition that "hate speech" is any speech by people who disagree with me, because I have the best interest of humanity in mind so clearly those who oppose me hate the human race?

Note you can see this right in his statement -- "for those trying to destroy a livable climate."  That's absurd.  Does he really think anyone is trying to destroy a livable climate?  I could say that through CO2 controls he is trying to impoverish billions of poor people in lesser developed countries by halting development, but I don't think that is really his motive.  I think that is an outcome of what he advocates, just as he thinks an unlivable climate is an outcome of what I advocate, but I can distinguish between motives and assumptions, but he apparently cannot.   This attitude is EXACTLY what causes this kind of unfortunate video to be made -- it is only a small step from believing, as he says he does, that skeptics are "trying to destroy a liveable climate" to making a movie that jokes about killing them all (or, to be frank, to feeling justified in acts of eco-terrorism).

I encourage you to watch my climate video and decide if folks like me are trying to thoughtfully decipher nature or are engaging in hate speech.

Update #5: Funny -- Gillian Anderson, actress from the 10:10 video, warning of Y2K dangers.

Update #6: I guess this was inevitable, but all the rats in the 10:10 ship are claiming that they had no idea what the video would be like and were appalled when they saw it.  Right.  An organization funds a major film production, including any number of high profile participants, and no one asked to see a script, screened the video before release, or even asked for some kind of written treatment of the concept?  Yeah, right.   No one in the 10:10 organization or who funded the video even peeked at it before it was released to the entire planet?  This is so utterly lame but will probably be enough of a fig leaf for most of the media to hide behind and allow them not to follow up on a video whose basic premises they likely agree with.