Friday, September 17, 2010

I got your tax cut right here

Why Congress Should Let the Bush Tax Cuts Expire - Newsweek
The tax cuts could have been made permanent or extended at some point before now. Alternatively, the folks who ran fiscal policy from 2001 through 2008—the Republican White House and a Congress that was controlled for most of that period by Republicans—could have created the conditions that would have made it possible to extend the tax cuts or make them permanent. But they didn't. Instead of running balanced budgets, they appropriated hundreds of billions of dollars to fight two wars, created an expensive, open-ended entitlement without a funding mechanism (Medicare prescription drug coverage), and increased discretionary spending. Oh, and their failures of oversight, regulation, and management led to expensive, deficit-enhancing bailouts.

...President Obama's proposal to extend the tax cuts for those making less than $250,000 per year will add $3.2 trillion to the debt. But as the Congressional Budget Office noted, extending them all will add $3.9 trillion in debt. Now, advocating tax cuts without specifying spending cuts (and, no, John Boehner, saying you want to roll back spending to 2008 levels doesn't count) means you're advocating a huge increase in new debt creation. It's sad to say, but it's nearly impossible to find a Democrat or Republican who can speak seriously about how we can align revenues with expenditures. (And, no, Rep. Paul Ryan, your much-discussed "road map" doesn't count, since it cuts taxes on the rich but doesn't lower deficits over the long term.)

The bold and confident assertions made about the links between tax rates and economic growth, market performance, and prosperity are almost certainly wrong. Turn on CNBC or look at the Wall Street Journal op-ed page these days, and you'll learn that we must keep tax rates on capital gains, dividends, and income precisely where they are because shifting them to different levels will retard economic growth. Keep this in mind: The people who designed the current, unsustainable tax system promised us that lower marginal rates, and lower taxes on capital and dividends, would boost the economy, promote investment, create jobs, spur market performance, and raise everybody's income. They were wrong. (It's no coincidence that these same people also warned us that raising taxes in 1993 would kill market returns and the economy. They were wrong then, too. They're pretty much always wrong.)

Friday, August 13, 2010

GOP destroyed economy

or perhaps it should be titled something like "Self-inflicted wounds are invariably the most painful."?...

ARROYO GRANDE, Calif. (MarketWatch) -- "How my G.O.P. destroyed the U.S. economy." Yes, that is exactly what David Stockman, President Ronald Reagan's director of the Office of Management and Budget, wrote in a recent New York Times op-ed piece, "Four Deformations of the Apocalypse."

Get it? Not "destroying." The GOP has already "destroyed" the U.S. economy, setting up an "American Apocalypse."

Yes, Stockman is equally damning of the Democrats' Keynesian policies. But what this indictment by a party insider -- someone so close to the development of the Reaganomics ideology -- says about America, helps all of us better understand how America's toxic partisan-politics "holy war" is destroying not just the economy and capitalism, but the America dream. And unless this war stops soon, both parties will succeed in their collective death wish.

But why focus on Stockman's message? It's already lost in the 24/7 news cycle. Why? We need some introspection. Ask yourself: How did the great nation of America lose its moral compass and drift so far off course, to where our very survival is threatened?

We've arrived at a historic turning point as a nation that no longer needs outside enemies to destroy us, we are committing suicide. Democracy. Capitalism. The American dream. All dying. Why? Because of the economic decisions of the GOP the past 40 years, says this leading Reagan Republican.

Please listen with an open mind, no matter your party affiliation: This makes for a powerful history lesson, because it exposes how both parties are responsible for destroying the U.S. economy. Listen closely:
Reagan Republican: the GOP should file for bankruptcy

Stockman rushes into the ring swinging like a boxer: "If there were such a thing as Chapter 11 for politicians, the Republican push to extend the unaffordable Bush tax cuts would amount to a bankruptcy filing. The nation's public debt ... will soon reach $18 trillion." It screams "out for austerity and sacrifice." But instead, the GOP insists "that the nation's wealthiest taxpayers be spared even a three-percentage-point rate increase."

In the past 40 years Republican ideology has gone from solid principles to hype and slogans. Stockman says: "Republicans used to believe that prosperity depended upon the regular balancing of accounts -- in government, in international trade, on the ledgers of central banks and in the financial affairs of private households and businesses too."

No more. Today there's a "new catechism" that's "little more than money printing and deficit finance, vulgar Keynesianism robed in the ideological vestments of the prosperous classes" making a mockery of GOP ideals. Worse, it has resulted in "serial financial bubbles and Wall Street depredations that have crippled our economy." Yes, GOP ideals backfired, crippling our economy.

Stockman's indictment warns that the Republican party's "new policy doctrines have caused four great deformations of the national economy, and modern Republicans have turned a blind eye to each one:"
Stage 1. Nixon irresponsible, dumps gold, U.S starts spending binge

Richard Nixon's gold policies get Stockman's first assault, for defaulting "on American obligations under the 1944 Bretton Woods agreement to balance our accounts with the world." So for the past 40 years, America's been living "beyond our means as a nation" on "borrowed prosperity on an epic scale ... an outcome that Milton Friedman said could never happen when, in 1971, he persuaded President Nixon to unleash on the world paper dollars no longer redeemable in gold or other fixed monetary reserves."

Remember Friedman: "Just let the free market set currency exchange rates, he said, and trade deficits will self-correct." Friedman was wrong by trillions. And unfortunately "once relieved of the discipline of defending a fixed value for their currencies, politicians the world over were free to cheapen their money and disregard their neighbors."

And without discipline America was also encouraging "global monetary chaos as foreign central banks run their own printing presses at ever faster speeds to sop up the tidal wave of dollars coming from the Federal Reserve." Yes, the road to the coming apocalypse began with a Republican president listening to a misguided Nobel economist's advice.

Stage 2. Crushing debts from domestic excesses, war mongering

Stockman says "the second unhappy change in the American economy has been the extraordinary growth of our public debt. In 1970 it was just 40% of gross domestic product, or about $425 billion. When it reaches $18 trillion, it will be 40 times greater than in 1970." Who's to blame? Not big-spending Dems, says Stockman, but "from the Republican Party's embrace, about three decades ago, of the insidious doctrine that deficits don't matter if they result from tax cuts."

Back "in 1981, traditional Republicans supported tax cuts," but Stockman makes clear, they had to be "matched by spending cuts, to offset the way inflation was pushing many taxpayers into higher brackets and to spur investment. The Reagan administration's hastily prepared fiscal blueprint, however, was no match for the primordial forces -- the welfare state and the warfare state -- that drive the federal spending machine."

OK, stop a minute. As you absorb Stockman's indictment of how his Republican party has "destroyed the U.S. economy," you're probably asking yourself why anyone should believe a traitor to the Reagan legacy. I believe party affiliation is irrelevant here. This is a crucial subject that must be explored because it further exposes a dangerous historical trend where politics is so partisan it's having huge negative consequences.

Yes, the GOP does have a welfare-warfare state: Stockman says "the neocons were pushing the military budget skyward. And the Republicans on Capitol Hill who were supposed to cut spending, exempted from the knife most of the domestic budget -- entitlements, farm subsidies, education, water projects. But in the end it was a new cadre of ideological tax-cutters who killed the Republicans' fiscal religion."

When Fed chief Paul Volcker "crushed inflation" in the '80s we got a "solid economic rebound." But then "the new tax-cutters not only claimed victory for their supply-side strategy but hooked Republicans for good on the delusion that the economy will outgrow the deficit if plied with enough tax cuts." By 2009, they "reduced federal revenues to 15% of gross domestic product," lowest since the 1940s. Still today they're irrationally demanding an extension of those "unaffordable Bush tax cuts [that] would amount to a bankruptcy filing."

Recently Bush made matters far worse by "rarely vetoing a budget bill and engaging in two unfinanced foreign military adventures." Bush also gave in "on domestic spending cuts, signing into law $420 billion in nondefense appropriations, a 65% percent gain from the $260 billion he had inherited eight years earlier. Republicans thus joined the Democrats in a shameless embrace of a free-lunch fiscal policy." Takes two to tango.
Stage 3. Wall Street's deadly 'vast, unproductive expansion'

Stockman continues pounding away: "The third ominous change in the American economy has been the vast, unproductive expansion of our financial sector." He warns that "Republicans have been oblivious to the grave danger of flooding financial markets with freely printed money and, at the same time, removing traditional restrictions on leverage and speculation." Wrong, not oblivious. Self-interested Republican loyalists like Paulson, Bernanke and Geithner knew exactly what they were doing.

They wanted the economy, markets and the government to be under the absolute control of Wall Street's too-greedy-to-fail banks. They conned Congress and the Fed into bailing out an estimated $23.7 trillion debt. Worse, they have since destroyed meaningful financial reforms. So Wall Street is now back to business as usual blowing another bigger bubble/bust cycle that will culminate in the coming "American Apocalypse."

Stockman refers to Wall Street's surviving banks as "wards of the state." Wrong, the opposite is true. Wall Street now controls Washington, and its "unproductive" trading is "extracting billions from the economy with a lot of pointless speculation in stocks, bonds, commodities and derivatives." Wall Street banks like Goldman were virtually bankrupt, would have never survived without government-guaranteed deposits and "virtually free money from the Fed's discount window to cover their bad bets."
Stage 4. New American Revolution class-warfare coming soon

Finally, thanks to Republican policies that let us "live beyond our means for decades by borrowing heavily from abroad, we have steadily sent jobs and production offshore," while at home "high-value jobs in goods production ... trade, transportation, information technology and the professions shrunk by 12% to 68 million from 77 million."

As the apocalypse draws near, Stockman sees a class-rebellion, a new revolution, a war against greed and the wealthy. Soon. The trigger will be the growing gap between economic classes: No wonder "that during the last bubble (from 2002 to 2006) the top 1% of Americans -- paid mainly from the Wall Street casino -- received two-thirds of the gain in national income, while the bottom 90% -- mainly dependent on Main Street's shrinking economy -- got only 12%. This growing wealth gap is not the market's fault. It's the decaying fruit of bad economic policy."

Get it? The decaying fruit of the GOP's bad economic policies is destroying our economy.
Warning: this black swan won't be pretty, will shock, soon

His bottom line: "The day of national reckoning has arrived. We will not have a conventional business recovery now, but rather a long hangover of debt liquidation and downsizing ... it's a pity that the modern Republican party offers the American people an irrelevant platform of recycled Keynesianism when the old approach -- balanced budgets, sound money and financial discipline -- is needed more than ever."

Wrong: There are far bigger things to "pity."

First, that most Americans, 300 million, are helpless, will do nothing, sit in the bleachers passively watching this deadly partisan game like it's just another TV reality show.

Second, that, unfortunately, politicians are so deep-in-the-pockets of the Wall Street conspiracy that controls Washington they are helpless and blind.

And third, there's a depressing sense that Stockman will be dismissed as a traitor, his message lost in the 24/7 news cycle ... until the final apocalyptic event, an unpredictable black swan triggers another, bigger global meltdown, followed by a long Great Depression II and a historic class war.

So be prepared, it will hit soon, when you least expect.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Today's college kids lack empathy
Compared to 30 years ago, it's all about me now, study finds
By Jeanna Bryner
updated 8:55 a.m. PT, Fri., May 28, 2010

College students today are less likely to "get" the emotions of others than their counterparts 20 and 30 years ago, a new review study suggests.

Specifically, today's students scored 40 percent lower on a measure of empathy than their elders did.

The findings are based on a review of 72 studies of 14,000 American college students overall conducted between 1979 and 2009.
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"We found the biggest drop in empathy after the year 2000," said Sara Konrath, a researcher at the University of Michigan's Institute for Social Research.

The study was presented this week at the annual meeting of the Association for Psychological Science in Boston.

Compared with college students of the late 1970s, current students are less likely to agree with statements such as "I sometimes try to understand my friends better by imagining how things look from their perspective," and "I often have tender, concerned feelings for people less fortunate than me."

Konrath's colleague graduate student Edward O'Brien added, "It's not surprising that this growing emphasis on the self is accompanied by a corresponding devaluation of others.”

Other recent studies have shown mixed results on the character of today's youth . For instance, one study of more than 450,000 high-school seniors born at different time periods showed today’s youth are no more self-centered than their parents were at their age.

The role of media
Even so, Konrath and O'Brien suggest several reasons for the lower empathy they found, including the ever-increasing exposure to media in the current generation.

"Compared to 30 years ago, the average American now is exposed to three times as much nonwork-related information," Konrath said. "In terms of media content, this generation of college students grew up with video games , and a growing body of research, including work done by my colleagues at Michigan, is establishing that exposure to violent media numbs people to the pain of others."

The rise in social media could also play a role.

"The ease of having 'friends' online might make people more likely to just tune out when they don't feel like responding to others' problems, a behavior that could carry over offline," O'Brien said.

In fact, past research has suggested college students are addicted to social media .

Other possible causes include a society today that’s hypercompetitive and focused on success, as well as the fast-paced nature of today, in which people are less likely than in time periods past to slow down to really listen to others, O'Brien added

... "The era of procrastination, of half-measures, of soothing and baffling expedients, of delays, is coming to a close. In its place, we are entering a period of consequences." - Winston Churchill, The Gathering Storm

... I rank pretty damn low myself. I wonder what it all means.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Olbermann: GOP self-destruction imminent

The party's obsolete ideas will undermine its relevance
March. 22, 2010

Finally as promised, a Special Comment in the wake of the passage of Health Care Reform and it's a first step, there's a lot wrong with it, but the penalty for not paying the fine for not buying the mandatory insurance has been reduced to nothing.

So, blessings nonetheless on those who took this first step, pat yourselves on the back, and, tomorrow morning, get back to work fixing what is still wrong with our American Health Care system. These remarks are about our political climate in the wake of the bill's passage.

Eight days ago, a 16-year old kid picked up a courtesy phone at a store in Washington Township, New Jersey, and announced over the public address system, quote "Attention, WalMart customers: All black people leave the store now." The boy has been arrested and charged with harassment and bias intimidation.

Two days ago, a Tea Party protestor shouted the "n" word at Congressman John Lewis of Georgia, one of the heroes of 20th Century America, and Congressman Andre Carson of Indiana and another shouted anti-gay slurs at Congressman Barney Frank of Massachusetts.

Capitol Hill Police confirm no arrests were made and there were no serious efforts to identify the vermin involved. Television, print, and radio news organizations will not be asked to turn over their tapes and images of the event, nor subpoenaed if necessary. This is not to dismiss what the 16-year old did in New Jersey.

But it would seem that what was shouted at the Congressmen merits at least as much investigation and hopefully as much prosecution. After all, it did occur inside the halls of Congress, a place at least as crowded as, and as sanctified as a WalMart.

In a backwards, sick-to-my-stomach way, I would like to thank whoever shouted at Mr. Lewis and Mr. Carson for proving my previous point. If racism is not the whole of the Tea Party, it is in its heart, along with blind hatred, a total disinterest in the welfare of others, and a full-flowered, self-rationalizing refusal to accept the outcomes of elections, or the reality of Democracy, or of the narrowness of their minds and the equal narrowness of their public support.

On Saturday, that support came from evolutionary regressives as Michele Bachmann and Jon Voight. On a daily basis that support comes from the racists and homophobes of radio and television: the Michael Savages and the Rush Limbaughs. Shockingly, that support even came, on a specific basis, from another Congressman, Republican Devin Nunes of the California 21st.

"When you use totalitarian tactics, people, you know, begin to act crazy," he said on C-SPAN. "And I think, you know, there's people that have every right to say what they want. If they want to smear someone, they can do it."

Congressman Nunes, you should resign. You have no business opening a door for a man like John Lewis, let alone serving alongside him. And if you shouldn't resign for your endorsement, your encouragement, of the most vile, the most reprehensible, and the most outdated spewings of the lizard-brain of this country, you should resign because of your total disconnect from reality.

There have been no "totalitarian tactics," Congressman. People, these few, sad, people, have begun to act crazy, because it has been the dedicated purpose, the sole method and sole function, of the Republican party, to entice them to act crazy.

Those shouts against the Congressmen, Mr. Nunes, were inspired not by what people like John Lewis have done in their lives. They have been inspired by what people like you have done in the last year.

And so the far right escalates the rhetoric and the level of threat, just a little more. And worse still, it escalates the level of delusion. The election of a Democratic president is socialism. The election of a black president is an international conspiracy. The enactment of any health care reform is an apocalypse. And the willful denial of reality by the leader of the minority party in Congress is the only truth.

A willful denial, incidentally, that includes the leader of the minority party in Congress ignoring the fact that his is the minority party, and that he represents the minority, and that despite having broken all the rules of decorum in place in this nation since the end of the Civil War
that despite having played every trick — mean and low, despite having the limitless financial backing of one of the biggest cartels in the world, he and his cronies and the manufactured outrage of the Tea Party failed to derail Health Care Reform.

Failed Mr. Boehner. You lost. You blew it. "Shame on each and every one of you who substitutes your will and your desires above those of your fellow countrymen," you said last night just before the vote. The will and desire of your countrymen, Mr. Boehner?

If you're one of the leaders of a party that in four years coughed up the Senate Majority, coughed up the House Majority, coughed up the White House, coughed up Health Care Reform, and along the way ignored every poll and every election result, I would think the "will and desires of your fellow countrymen" should be pretty damn clear by now: Your countrymen think your policies are of the past, and your tactics are of the gutter.

But Boehner’s teary "shame on you" over the tyranny of the vast majority taking a scrap back from the elite clueless minority — that's just an isolated incident. Just as Congressman Neugebauer shouting "Baby-Killer" at, or " It's a Baby-Killer" during, Congressman Stupak's laudable speech last night was just an isolated incident.

Just as the shouting of "n" words at Congressmen Lewis and Carson was just an isolated incident. Just as the spitting on Congressman Cleaver was just an isolated incident . Just as the abuse of Congressman Frank was just an isolated incident. Just as the ethnic slurs shouted at Congressman Rodriguez of Texas was just an isolated incident. Just as the oinking by Congressman Wilson during the President's address was just an isolated incident.

Just as whatever's next will be just an isolated incident. You know what they call it when you have a once-a-week series of isolated incidents? They call it two things. They call it a "pattern" and in the United States of 2010 they call it "The Republican Party."

American political parties have disappeared before. They are never forced out by their rivals. They die by their own hands, because they did not know that the hatred or the myopia or the monomania they thought was still okay wasn't okay, any more. And so I offer this olive branch to the defeated Republicans and Tea Partyers.

It is a cold olive branch, and scarred, and there aren't many olives on it, but it still counts.You are rapidly moving from "The Party of No," past "The Party Of No Conscience," towards "The Party of No Relevancy." You are behind the wheel of a political Toyota. And before the mid-terms, you will have been reduced to only being this generation's home for the nuts.

You will be the Flat-Earthers, the Isolationists, the Segregationists, the John Birchers. Stop.
Certainly you must recognize the future is with the humane, the inclusive, the diverse— it is with America. Not the America of 1910, but the America of 2010. Discard this dangerous, separatist, elitist, backward-looking rhetoric, and you will be welcomed back into the political discourse of this nation. Continue with it, and you will destroy yourselves and whatever righteous causes you actually believe in, and on the way you will damage this country in ways and manners untold.

But even that damage will not be permanent. Faubus, and the MacNamara Brothers, and Bull Connor, and Lindbergh, and Joe McCarthy damaged this nation. We survived and they were swept away by history. You cannot destroy this country, no matter how hard you seem to be trying to nor can you destroy this country's inexorable march towards the light.

The Belgian Nobel Prize winner Maurice Maeterlinck once wrote that, quote, "at every cross-roads on the path that leads to the future, tradition has placed 10-thousand men to guard the past." Last night those 10,000 men fell.

"The era of procrastination, of half-measures, of soothing and baffling expedients, of delays, is coming to a close. In its place, we are entering a period of consequences." - Winston Churchill, The Gathering Storm

Friday, February 19, 2010

AGW Skeptic Arguments and What the Science Says

Here is a summary of what the science says on each skeptic argument. You can also view the arguments sorted by taxonomy.
Skeptic Argument vs What the Science Says
1 "It's the sun" In the last 35 years of global warming, the sun has shown a slight cooling trend. Sun and climate have been going in opposite directions.
2 "Climate's changed before" Natural climate change in the past proves that climate is sensitive to an energy imbalance. If the planet accumulates heat, global temperatures will go up. Currently, CO2 is imposing an energy imbalance due to the enhanced greenhouse effect. Past climate change actually provides evidence for our climate's sensitivity to CO2.
3 "There is no consensus" That humans are causing global warming is the position of the Academies of Science from 19 countries plus many scientific organisations that study climate science. More specifically, 97% of climate scientists actively publishing climate papers endorse the consensus position.
4 "It's cooling" Empirical measurements of the Earth's heat content show the planet is still accumulating heat and global warming is still happening. Surface temperatures can show short term cooling when heat is exchanged between the atmosphere and the ocean, which has a much greater heat capacity than the air.
5 "Models are unreliable" While there are uncertainties with climate models, they successfully reproduce the past and have made predictions that have been subsequently confirmed by observations.
6 "Temp record is unreliable" Numerous studies into the effect of urban heat island effect and microsite influences find they have negligible effect on long term trends, particularly when averaged over large regions.
7 "It hasn't warmed since 1998" The planet has continued to accumulate heat since 1998 - global warming is still happening. Nevertheless, surface temperatures show much internal variability due to heat exchange between the ocean and atmosphere. 1998 was an unusually hot year due to a strong El Nino.
8 "Ice age predicted in the 70s" 1970s ice age predictions were predominantly media based. The majority of peer reviewed research at the time predicted warming due to increasing CO2.
9 "We're heading into an ice age" The warming effect from CO2 increases greatly outstrips the influence from orbital changes or variations in solar activity even if solar levels were to drop to Maunder Minimum levels.
10 "Antarctica is gaining ice" While the interior of East Antarctica is gaining land ice, overall Antarctica is losing land ice at an accelerating rate. Antarctic sea ice is growing despite a strongly warming Southern Ocean.
11 "CO2 lags temperature" When the Earth comes out of an ice age, the warming is not initiated by CO2 but by changes in the Earth's orbit. The warming causes the oceans to give up CO2. The CO2 amplifies the warming and mixes through the atmosphere, spreading warming throughout the planet. So CO2 causes warming AND rising temperature causes CO2 rise.
12 "Global warming is good" The negative impacts of global warming on agriculture, health, economy and environment far outweigh any positives.
13 "Al Gore got it wrong" While there are minor errors in An Inconvenient Truth, the main truths presented - evidence to show mankind is causing global warming and its various impacts is consistent with peer reviewed science.
14 "It's freaking cold!" Since the mid 1970s, global temperatures have been warming at around 0.2 degrees Celsius per decade. However, weather imposes its own dramatic ups and downs over the long term trend. We expect to see record cold temperatures even during global warming. Nevertheless over the last decade, daily record high temperatures occurred twice as often as record lows. This tendency towards hotter days is expected to increase as global warming continues into the 21st Century.
15 "Hurricanes aren't linked to global warming" It is unclear whether global warming is increasing hurricane frequency but there is increasing evidence that warming increases hurricane intensity.
16 "Mars is warming" Martian climate is primarily driven by dust and albedo and there is little empirical evidence that Mars is showing long term warming.
17 "It's cosmic rays" While the link between cosmic rays and cloud cover is yet to be confirmed, more importantly, there has been no correlation between cosmic rays and global temperatures over the last 30 years of global warming.
18 "1934 - hottest year on record" 1934 is the hottest year on record in the USA which only comprises 2% of the globe. According to NASA temperature records, the hottest year on record globally is 2005.
19 "It's just a natural cycle" The 1500 year cycles, known as Dansgaard-Oeschger events, are localized to the northern hemisphere and accompanied with cooling in the southern hemisphere. In contrast, current global warming is occuring in both hemispheres and particularly throughout the world's oceans, indicating a significant energy imbalance.
20 "Sea levels aren't rising (much)" Sea levels are measured by a variety of methods that show close agreement - sediment cores, tidal gauges, satellite measurements. What they find is sea level rise has been steadily accelerating over the past century.
21 "It's Urban Heat Island effect" While urban areas are undoubtedly warmer than surrounding rural areas, this has had little to no impact on warming trends.
22 "Hockey stick is broken" Since the hockey stick paper in 1998, there have been a number of proxy studies analysing a variety of different sources including corals, stalagmites, tree rings, boreholes and ice cores. They all confirm the original hockey stick conclusion: the 20th century is the warmest in the last 1000 years and that warming was most dramatic after 1920.
23 "Arctic icemelt is a natural cycle" Arctic sea ice has been retreating over the past 30 years. The rate of retreat is accelerating and in fact is exceeding most models' forecasts.
24 "Other planets are warming" There are three fundamental flaws in the 'other planets are warming' argument. Not all planets in the solar system are warming. The sun has shown no long term trend since 1950 and in fact has shown a slight cooling trend in recent decades. There are explanations for why other planets are warming.
25 "Water vapor is the most powerful greenhouse gas" Water vapour is the most dominant greenhouse gas. Water vapour is also the dominant positive feedback in our climate system and amplifies any warming caused by changes in atmospheric CO2. This positive feedback is why climate is so sensitive to CO2 warming.
26 "Greenland was green" The Greenland ice sheet has existed for at least 400,000 years. There may have been regions of Greenland that were 'greener' than today but this was not a global phenomenon.
27 "Human CO2 is a tiny % of CO2 emissions" The CO2 that nature emits (from the ocean and vegetation) is balanced by natural absorptions (again by the ocean and vegetation). Therefore human emissions upset the natural balance, rising CO2 to levels not seen in at least 800,000 years. In fact, human emit 26 gigatonnes of CO2 per year while CO2 in the atmosphere is rising by only 15 gigatonnes per year - much of human CO2 emissions is being absorbed by natural sinks.
28 "We're coming out of an ice age" The main driver of the warming from the Little Ice Age to 1940 was the warming sun with a small contribution from volcanic activity. However, solar activity leveled off after 1940 and the net influence from sun and volcano since 1940 has been slight cooling. Greenhouse gases have been the main contributor of warming since 1970.
29 "Oceans are cooling" Early estimates of ocean heat from the Argo showed a cooling bias due to pressure sensor issues. Recent estimates of ocean heat that take this bias into account show continued warming of the upper ocean. This is confirmed by independent estimates of ocean heat as well as more comprehensive measurements of ocean heat down to 2000 metres deep.
30 "It cooled mid-century" There are a number of forcings which affect climate (eg - stratospheric aerosols, solar variations). When all forcings are combined, they show good correlation to global temperature throughout the 20th century including the mid-century cooling period. However, for the last 35 years, the dominant forcing has been CO2.
31 "It warmed before 1940 when CO2 was low" Early 20th century warming was in large part due to rising solar activity and relatively quiet volcanic activity. However, both factors have played little to no part in the warming since 1975. Solar activity has been steady since the 50's. Volcanoes have been relatively frequent and if anything, have exerted a cooling effect.
32 "Mt. Kilimanjaro's ice loss is due to land use" Mount Kilimanjaro's shrinking glacier is complicated and not due to just global warming. However, this does not mean the Earth is not warming. There is ample evidence that Earth's average temperature has increased in the past 100 years and the decline of mid- and high-latitude glaciers is a major piece of evidence.
33 "Climate sensitivity is low" Climate sensitivity can be calculated empirically by comparing past temperature change to natural forcings at the time. Various periods of Earth's past have been examined in this manner and find broad agreement of a climate sensitivity of around 3°C.
34 "There's no empirical evidence" Direct observations find that CO2 is rising sharply due to human activity. Satellite and surface measurements find less energy is escaping to space at CO2 absorption wavelengths. Ocean and surface temperature measurements find the planet continues to accumulate heat. This gives a line of empirical evidence that human CO2 emissions are causing global warming.
35 "Polar bear numbers are increasing" While there is some uncertainty on current polar bear population trends, one thing is certain. No sea ice means no seals which means no polar bears. With Arctic sea ice retreating at an accelerating rate, the polar bear is at grave risk of extinction
36 "Glaciers are growing" While there are isolated cases of growing glaciers, the overwhelming trend in glaciers worldwide is retreat. In fact, the global melt rate has been accelerating since the mid-1970s.
37 "Extreme weather isn't caused by global warming" There is growing empirical evidence that warming temperatures cause more intense hurricanes, heavier rainfalls and flooding, increased conditions for wildfires and dangerous heat waves.
38 "Satellites show no warming in the troposphere" Satellite measurements match model results apart from in the tropics. There is uncertainty with the tropic data due to how various teams correct for satellite drift. The U.S. Climate Change Science Program conclude the discrepancy is most likely due to data errors.
39 "IPCC does not represent a scientific consensus" The IPCC lead authors are experts in their field, instructed to fairly represent the full range of the up-to-date, peer-reviewed literature. Consequently, the IPCC reports tend to be cautious in their conclusions. Comparisons to the most recent data consistently finds that climate change is occurring more rapidly and intensely than indicated by IPCC predictions.
40 "CO2 effect is weak" An enhanced greenhouse effect from CO2 has been confirmed by multiple lines of empirical evidence. Satellite measurements of infrared spectra over the past 40 years observe less energy escaping to space at the wavelengths associated with CO2. Surface measurements find more downward infrared radiation warming the planet's surface. This provides a direct, empirical causal link between CO2 and global warming.
41 "CO2 is not a pollutant" While there are direct ways in which CO2 is a pollutant (acidification of the ocean), it's primary impact is its greenhouse warming effect. While the greenhouse effect is a natural occurance, too much warming has severe negative impacts on agriculture, health and environment.
42 "There's no correlation between CO2 and temperature" Even during a period of long term warming, there are short periods of cooling due to climate variability. Short term cooling over the last few years is largely due to a strong La Nina phase in the Pacific Ocean and a prolonged solar minimum.
43 "CO2 has been higher in the past" When CO2 levels were higher in the past, solar levels were also lower. The combined effect of sun and CO2 matches well with climate.
44 "Scientists can't even predict weather" Weather is chaotic, making prediction difficult. However, climate takes a long term view, averaging weather out over time. This removes the chaotic element, enabling climate models to successfully predict future climate change.
45 "Greenland is gaining ice" While the Greenland interior is in mass balance, the coastlines are losing ice. Overall Greenland is losing ice mass at an accelerating rate. From 2002 to 2009, the rate of ice mass loss doubled.
46 "Neptune is warming" Neptune's orbit is 164 years so observations (1950 to present day) span less than a third of a Neptunian year. Climate modelling of Neptune suggests its brightening is a seasonal response. Eg - Neptune's southern hemisphere is heading into summer.
47 "Jupiter is warming" Jupiter's climate change is due to shifts in internal turbulence fueled from an internal heat source - the planet radiates twice as much energy as it receives from the sun.
48 "CRU emails suggest climate conspiracy" While some of the private correspondance is not commendable, an informed examination of their "suggestive" emails reveal technical discussions using techniques well known in the peer reviewed literature. Focusing on a few suggestive emails merely serves to distract from the wealth of empirical evidence for man-made global warming.
49 "There's no tropospheric hot spot" Satellite measurements match model results apart from in the tropics. There is uncertainty with the tropic data due to how various teams correct for satellite drift. The U.S. Climate Change Science Program conclude the discrepancy is most likely due to data errors.
50 "Pluto is warming" Pluto's climate change over the last 14 years is likely a seasonal event. Pluto experiences drastic season changes due to an elliptical orbit (that takes 250 Earth years). Any Plutonian warming cannot be caused by solar variations as the sun has showed little to no long term trend over the past 50 years and sunlight at Pluto is 900 times weaker than it is at the Earth.
51 "It's Pacific Decadal Oscillation" PDO as an oscillation between positive and negative values shows no long term trend, while temperature shows a long term warming trend. When the PDO last switched to a cool phase, global temperatures were about 0.4C cooler than currently. The long term warming trend indicates the total energy in the Earth's climate system is increasing due to an energy imbalance.
52 "Greenland ice sheet is stable" Satellite gravity measurements show Greenland is losing ice mass at an accelerated rate, increasing its contribution to rising sea levels.
53 "It's the ocean" Oceans are warming across the globe. In fact, globally oceans are accumulating energy at a rate of 4 x 1021 Joules per year - equivalent to 127,000 nuclear plants (which have an average output of 1 gigawatt) pouring their energy directly into the world's oceans. This tells us the planet is in energy imbalance - more energy is coming in than radiating back out to space.
54 "The CO2 effect is saturated" If the CO2 effect was saturated, adding more CO2 should add no additional greenhouse effect. However, satellite and surface measurements observe an enhanced greenhouse effect at the wavelengths that CO2 absorb energy. This is empirical proof that the CO2 effect is not saturated.
55 "Animals and plants can adapt to global warming" A large number of ancient mass extinction events have been strongly linked to global climate change. Because current climate change is so rapid, the way species typically adapt (eg - migration) is, in most cases, simply not be possible. Global change is simply too pervasive and occurring too rapidly.
56 "Volcanoes emit more CO2 than humans" Volcanoes emit around 0.3 billion tonnes of CO2 per year. This is about 1% of human CO2 emissions which is around 29 billion tonnes per year.
57 "Less than half of published scientists endorse global warming" Schulte's paper makes much of the fact that 48% of the papers they surveyed are neutral papers, refusing to either accept or reject anthropogenic global warming. The fact that so many studies on climate change don't bother to endorse the consensus position is significant because scientists have largely moved from what's causing global warming onto discussing details of the problem (eg - how fast, how soon, impacts, etc).
58 "CO2 measurements are suspect" CO2 levels are measured by hundreds of stations scattered across 66 countries which all report the same rising trend.
59 "It's aerosols" The global dimming trend reversed around 1990 - 15 years after the global warming trend began in the mid 1970's.
60 "It's El NiƱo" The El Nino Southern Oscillation shows close correlation to global temperatures over the short term. However, it is unable to explain the long term warming trend over the past few decades.
61 "It's a climate regime shift" A full reading of Tsonis and Swanson's research shows that internal variability from climate shifts merely cause temporary slow downs or speeding up of the long-term warming trend. When the internal variability is removed from the temperature record, what we find is nearly monotonic, accelerating warming throughout the 20th Century.
62 "Humans are too insignificant to affect global climate" Atmospheric CO2 levels are rising by 15 gigatonnes per year. Humans are emitting 26 gigatonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere. Humans are dramatically altering the composition of our climate.
63 "It's land use" Correlations between warming and economic activity are most likely spurious. They don't take into account local forcing agents such as tropospheric ozone or black carbon. Correlations are likely over-estimated since grid boxes in both economic and climate data are not independent. Lastly, there is significant independent evidence for warming in the oceans, snow cover and sea ice extent changes.
64 "It's microsite influences" Data analysis comparing the temperature trends from poorly sited weather stations to well sited stations find the poor sites actually show a cooling bias compared to good sites. The cooling bias is caused by a change to the Maximum/Minimum Temperature Systems which is found more often at poor sites. When the change of instrument biases are taken into account, there is very little difference between the trends from poor and well sited weather stations.
65 "It's methane" While methane is a more potent greenhouse gas than CO2, there is over 200 times more CO2 in the atmosphere. Hence the amount of warming methane contributes is 28% of the warming CO2 contributes.
66 "Medieval Warm Period was warmer" While the Medieval Warm Period saw unusually warm temperatures in some regions, globally the planet was cooler than current conditions.
67 "Solar Cycle Length proves its the sun" The claim that solar cycle length proves the sun is driving global warming is based on a single study published in 1991. Subsequent research, including a paper by a co-author of the original 1991 paper, finds the opposite conclusion. Solar cycle length as a proxy for solar activity tells us the sun has had very little contribution to global warming since 1975.
68 "Naomi Oreskes' study on consensus was flawed" An examination of the papers that critics claim refute the consensus are found to actually endorse the consensus or are review papers (eg - they don't offer any new research but merely review other papers). This led the original critic Benny Peisner to retract his criticism of Oreskes' study.
69 "Water levels correlate with sunspots" There seems to be evidence for a link between solar activity and water levels. However, more direct comparisons between solar activity and global temperature finds that as the sun grew hotter or cooler, Earth's climate followed it with a 10 year lag - presumably due to the dampening effect of the ocean. Also found was that the correlation between solar activity and global temperatures ended around 1975, hence recent warming must have some other cause than solar variations.
70 "Solar cycles cause global warming" A full reading of Tung 2008 finds a distinct 11 year solar signal in the global temperature record. However, this 11 year cycle is superimposed over the long term global warming trend. In fact, the authors go on to estimate climate sensitivity from their findings, calculate a value between 2.3 to 4.1°C. This confirms the IPCC estimate of climate sensitivity.
71 "The sun is getting hotter" Various independent measurements of solar activity all confirm the sun has shown a slight cooling trend since 1978.
72 "IPCC were wrong about Himalayan glaciers" The IPCC error on the 2035 prediction was unfortunate and it's important that such mistakes are avoided in future publications through more rigorous review. But the central message of the IPCC AR4, is confirmed by the peer reviewed literature. The Himalayan glaciers are of vital importance, providing drinking water to half a billion people. Satellites and on-site measurements are observing that Himalayan glaciers are disappearing at an accelerating rate.
73 "It's albedo" The long term trend from albedo is that of cooling. In recent years, satellite measurements of albedo show little to no trend.
74 "Water vapor in the stratosphere stopped global warming" The effect from stratospheric water vapor contributes a fraction of the temperature change imposed from man-made greenhouse gases. Also, it's not yet clear whether changes in stratospheric water vapor are caused by a climate feedback or internal variability (eg - linked to El Nino Southern Oscillation). However, the long term warming trend seems to speak against the possibility of a negative feedback.
75 "Phil Jones says no global warming since 1995" When you read Phil Jones' actual words, you see he's saying there is a warming trend but it's not statistically significant. He's not talking about whether warming is actually happening. He's discussing our ability to detect that warming trend in a noisy signal over a short period.
76 "CO2 is not the only driver of climate" While there are many drivers of climate, CO2 is the most dominant radiative forcing and is increasing faster than any other forcing.
77 "Sea level rise predictions are exaggerated" Observed sea levels are actually tracking at the upper range of the IPCC projections. When accelerating ice loss from Greenland and Antarctica are factored into sea level projections, the estimated sea level rise by 2100 is between 75cm to 2 metres.
78 "December 2009 saw record cold spells" The cold snap is due to a strong phase of the Arctic Oscillation. This is causing cool temperatures at mid-latitudes (eg - Eurasia and North America) and warming in polar regions (Greenland and Arctic Ocean). The warm and cool regions roughly balance each other out with little impact on global temperature.
79 "It's not happening" There are many lines of independent empirical evidence for global warming, from accelerated ice loss from the Arctic to Antarctica to the inexorable poleward migration of plant and animal species across the globe.
80 "Trenberth can't account for the lack of warming" Trenberth's views are clarified in the paper "An imperative for climate change planning: tracking Earth's global energy". We know the planet is continually heating due to increasing carbon dioxide but that surface temperature sometimes have short term cooling periods. This is due to internal variability and Trenberth was lamenting that our observation systems can't comprehensively track all the energy flow through the climate system.
81 "It's CFCs" Models and direct observations find that CFCs only contribute a fraction of the warming supplied by other greenhouse gases.
82 "CO2 is not increasing" Currently, humans are emitting around 29 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere per year. Around 43% remains in the atmosphere - this is called the 'airborne fraction'. The rest is absorbed by vegetation and the oceans. While there are questions over how much the airborne fraction is increasing, it is clear that the total amount of CO2 in the atmosphere is increasing dramatically. Current CO2 levels are the highest in 15 million years.
83 "Climate is chaotic and cannot be predicted" Weather is chaotic because air is light, it has low friction and viscosity, it expands strongly when in contact with hot surfaces and it conducts heat poorly. Therefore weather is never in equilibrium and the wind always blows. The climate is mostly explained by equilibrium radiation physics, which puts the brakes on variations in global temperatures. Effects from weather, the Sun, volcanoes etc. currently only causes a small amount of chaotic behavior compared to the deterministic, predictable greenhouse gas forcing for the next 100 years"
84 "It's ozone" Multiple satellite measurements and ground-based observations have determined the ozone layer has stopped declining since 1995 while temperature trends continue upwards.
85 "It's satellite microwave transmissions" A generous estimate of the energy generated by satellites is around 1 million times too small to cause global warming.
86 "Global temperatures dropped sharply in 2007" 2007's dramatic cooling is driven by strong La Nina conditions which historically has caused similar drops in global temperature. It is also exacerbated by unusually low solar activity.
87 "Ice isn't melting" Ice mass loss is occuring at an accelerated rate in Greenland, Antarctica and globally from inland glaciers. Arctic sea ice is also falling at an accelerated rate. The exception to this ice loss is Antarctic sea ice which has been growing despite the warming Southern Ocean. This is due to local factors unique to the area.
88 "Tree-rings diverge from temperature after 1960" The divergence problem is a physical phenomenon - tree growth has slowed or declined in the last few decades, mostly in high northern latitudes. The divergence problem is unprecedented, unique to the last few decades, indicating its cause may be anthropogenic. The cause is likely to be a combination of local and global factors such as warming-induced drought and global dimming. Tree-ring proxy reconstructions are reliable before 1960, tracking closely with the instrumental record and other independent proxies.
89 "A drop in volcanic activity caused warming" A drop of volcanic activity in the early 20th century may have had a warming effect. However, volcanoes have had no warming effect in the last 40 years of global warming. If anything, they've imposed a slight cooling effect.
90 "IPCC were wrong about Amazon rainforests" The IPCC statement on Amazon rain forests is correct. The error was incorrect citation, failing to mention the peer-reviewed papers where the data came from. The peer-reviewed science prior to the 2007 IPCC report found that up to 40% of the Brazilian forest is vulnerable to drought. Subsequent field research has confirmed this assessment.
91 "We didn't have global warming during the Industrial Revolution" Global CO2 emissions during the Industrial Revolution were a fraction of the CO2 we are currently emitting now.
© Copyright 2010 John Cook


"The era of procrastination, of half-measures, of soothing and baffling expedients, of delays, is coming to a close. In its place, we are entering a period of consequences." - Winston Churchill, The Gathering Storm

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Republicans and Medicare -Krugman

Op-Ed Columnist - Republicans and Medicare -
Published: February 11, 2010

“Don’t cut Medicare. The reform bills passed by the House and Senate cut Medicare by approximately $500 billion. This is wrong.” So declared Newt Gingrich, the former speaker of the House, in a recent op-ed article written with John Goodman, the president of the National Center for Policy Analysis.

And irony died.

Now, Mr. Gingrich was just repeating the current party line. Furious denunciations of any effort to seek cost savings in Medicare — death panels! — have been central to Republican efforts to demonize health reform. What’s amazing, however, is that they’re getting away with it.

Why is this amazing? It’s not just the fact that Republicans are now posing as staunch defenders of a program they have hated ever since the days when Ronald Reagan warned that Medicare would destroy America’s freedom. Nor is it even the fact that, as House speaker, Mr. Gingrich personally tried to ram through deep cuts in Medicare — and, in 1995, went so far as to shut down the federal government in an attempt to bully Bill Clinton into accepting those cuts.

After all, you could explain this about-face by supposing that Republicans have had a change of heart, that they have finally realized just how much good Medicare does. And if you believe that, I’ve got some mortgage-backed securities you might want to buy.

No, what’s truly mind-boggling is this: Even as Republicans denounce modest proposals to rein in Medicare’s rising costs, they are, themselves, seeking to dismantle the whole program. And the process of dismantling would begin with spending cuts of about $650 billion over the next decade. Math is hard, but I do believe that’s more than the roughly $400 billion (not $500 billion) in Medicare savings projected for the Democratic health bills.

What I’m talking about here is the “Roadmap for America’s Future,” the budget plan recently released by Representative Paul Ryan, the ranking Republican member of the House Budget Committee. Other leading Republicans have been bobbing and weaving on the official status of this proposal, but it’s pretty clear that Mr. Ryan’s vision does, in fact, represent what the G.O.P. would try to do if it returns to power.

The broad picture that emerges from the “roadmap” is of an economic agenda that hasn’t changed one iota in response to the economic failures of the Bush years. In particular, Mr. Ryan offers a plan for Social Security privatization that is basically identical to the Bush proposals of five years ago.

But what’s really worth noting, given the way the G.O.P. has campaigned against health care reform, is what Mr. Ryan proposes doing with and to Medicare.

In the Ryan proposal, nobody currently under the age of 55 would be covered by Medicare as it now exists. Instead, people would receive vouchers and be told to buy their own insurance. And even this new, privatized version of Medicare would erode over time because the value of these vouchers would almost surely lag ever further behind the actual cost of health insurance. By the time Americans now in their 20s or 30s reached the age of eligibility, there wouldn’t be much of a Medicare program left.

But what about those who already are covered by Medicare, or will enter the program over the next decade? You’re safe, says the roadmap; you’ll still be eligible for traditional Medicare. Except, that is, for the fact that the plan “strengthens the current program with changes such as income-relating drug benefit premiums to ensure long-term sustainability.”

If this sounds like deliberately confusing gobbledygook, that’s because it is. Fortunately, the Congressional Budget Office, which has done an evaluation of the roadmap, offers a translation: “Some higher-income enrollees would pay higher premiums, and some program payments would be reduced.” In short, there would be Medicare cuts.

And it’s possible to back out the size of those cuts from the budget office analysis, which compares the Ryan proposal with a “baseline” representing current policy. As I’ve already said, the total over the next decade comes to about $650 billion — substantially bigger than the Medicare savings in the Democratic bills.

The bottom line, then, is that the crusade against health reform has relied, crucially, on utter hypocrisy: Republicans who hate Medicare, tried to slash Medicare in the past, and still aim to dismantle the program over time, have been scoring political points by denouncing proposals for modest cost savings — savings that are substantially smaller than the spending cuts buried in their own proposals.

And if Democrats don’t get their act together and push the almost-completed reform across the goal line, this breathtaking act of staggering hypocrisy will succeed.

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Letter from Army major in Iraq

Roy Speaks of Bakersfield, an Army major stationed in Iraq, wrote the following letter to a friend about the stresses of serving in that country. He granted us permission to share it with our readers.


I was reading one of the many articles about how the Army is trying to figure a way to decrease the occurrence of post traumatic stress and thought of that conversation we had a couple years ago.

It is an unfortunate reality that a person who has not experienced it will never know.

I have changed. I can't talk to my wife about it, and there may be something in our conversation that may help someone in the future, so here goes.

Upon arrival your life significantly changes just by sight. Walking through the area is like walking through a maze. Fourteen-foot concrete blast walls are everywhere. The living area is symmetrically lined up and is probably two miles square. Since I am a major I share a room with another major.

The trailer itself is called a CHU -- Containerized Housing Unit. It has one door, one window, and an air conditioner. Keep in mind that your CHU is surrounded by 14-foot blast walls. They are inherently dirty.

Everything is dirty because of the dust in the summer and the mud in the winter. The walls may or may not have years of smoke film on them, not from cigarettes but from the burning trash pits and occasional fires.

Sounds like a prison cell doesn't it? Actually I can say that I believe prisoners have better conditions. At least they have a toilet in their room. I have to walk 30 yards to a porta-john and 200 yards if I want to get to a trailer. You learn to use water bottles in the middle of the night.

Food is served by third country nationals, usually Pakistani or Indian, and it is just a big room.

The food isn't bad, but you eat at the same time every day and always the same things on the menu. Sound like prison?

You go to work, you eat, work, back to the CHU and sleep. There is TV if you buy it or bring it that plays Armed Forces Network programming.

OK, that sets the stage.

Each morning I sit in on an update to the commander. The brief consists of when, where, and how attacks occurred and of course how many US KIA (killed in action) and WIA (wounded in action).

It talks continuously about how we are helping the Iraqis to secure themselves from themselves. Is that crazy or what? I always look and see that the locations of the attacks. Sometimes they occur where I have been, on occasion as recently as the day prior. I think every time that it could have been me. At the end the chaplain picks one of the U.S. service members who has been killed in the last week and does what they call a soldier tribute. We stand and listen to where he lived, what he did growing up and who he left behind. Kids, wife, mom, dad -- it all sucks because everyone leaves someone else behind. It could have been me.

At night you may be sitting in your CHU reading when the alarm sounds for incoming. You can do nothing other than hope it does not land on your CHU. You hear the explosion and try and guess how far away it was -- 1/2 mile, 1000 yards, or 100 feet? You wonder where the next one will hit and if it will hit your CHU.

Typically on those nights I do not sleep real well.

The first thing you do after the attack is head for accountability. Did it hit a friend or co-worker's CHU? Who is dead?

The next day you read the report, it landed by the chow hall; 10 wounded, 2 killed. It landed on someone's CHU. He died reading a book. It could have been me.

My job is to develop plans to "assist the Iraqi government to establish a secure and stable Iraq." They don't even help themselves. My experience is that they are ungrateful, they want, want, want.

When it is convenient they claim religious rights, when it is not convenient, they do not abide.

My view of the Arab culture has changed significantly. My views on Islam have changed significantly. And unfortunately my view on Muslims overall has changed and in particular in America.

I am angry, sad, disappointed, and scared. It could be me next. Wrong place, wrong time by coincidence and it could be me, Carl.

Means I don't get to go home. I don't get to hold Kadie or play with Mason.

It could be me, Carl. Carry that around each and every day for 12 -15 months and imagine how that effects your psyche when you return to freedom.

I can easily see a kid having too much to drink, too much anger, getting over being scared s------- every night for 12 months. He is in the wrong place at the wrong time and circumstances trigger something. An inner thought or feeling and he makes a mistake.

Bang, no representation or representation that can't understand. Representation that wants to understand but just can't. It is impossible unless you have lived it. There is no jury of peers, only a jury of people that don't understand. A judge that doesn't understand.

I am not excusing criminal behavior, merely using it as an example. I could have used employment to prove a point.

I am praying that when I get home I can sleep, the edge comes off, the anger goes away and the old Roy comes back but I don't know.

I can tell you that regardless of the adjustment and re-integration there are feelings that will never change. This experience changes all of us whether they admit it or not.

OK, how is that for a rambling story? Thanks for listening and I look forward to the dialogue. I think it helps me to talk about it.

It's now 295 days down and 75 remaining. I can see the light at the end of the tunnel but I am not sure where it leads. I do not for one second regret my service to my country nor do I regret my most recent deployment. I have learned so many things, met great people, and influenced the Iraqi conflict on behalf of the American citizens.

The difficulty of being separated from your family, however, is immeasurable.

Surrounded by so many, but have never felt so alone.