Sunday, March 31, 2013

Google Chooses Easter to Insult Christians

Today marks the most important religious holiday of the year, Easter, which celebrates the Resurrection.  The belief in the Resurrection is the critical defining characteristic of Christianity.  Although many non-Christians acknowledge Jesus, it is the Resurrection that is purely a Christian belief.

Don't think for a second that this was not lost on the folks at Google.  So what was the Google "doodle"  that the company decided would be appropriate symbol for Easter?  A picture of Cesar Chavez, the Mexican labor leader.

Not to take away from Cesar Chavez who was a prominent historical figure. Chavez's birthday also happens to be today which is one of the rare times that it falls on the same day as Easter.  However, it is signficant that when Google had the opportunity to choose between celebrating the Easter Season and Cesar Chavez, it instead chose the labor leader.  It certainly wasn't an accident.

Should Christians be insulted?  Absolutely.  It doesn't matter if it is Christianity, Judiasm, Hinduism, or Islam, the people who believe in those religions, and the holidays they celebrate, should be respected.  Google chose instead chose to slight Christians all over the world.  Bing says "Thank You."

Saturday, March 30, 2013

People Tune Out Network Television

Jeffrey M. McCall, a communications professor at DePauw University, pens an excellent article about the dramatic decline in network television viewing:
Network broadcast television has been in a downward spiral for years, but the recent disastrous ratings from the sweeps period had to shock even the most hopeful executives of the big four networks. Networks ratings dropped 23 percent compared to a year ago, and all four broadcast networks experienced losses.

Viewers are ditching ABC, NBC, CBS and Fox in droves, giving their eyeballs to cable shows, DVDs, video games and the Internet. Traditional broadcast television just isn’t relevant for most Americans any more.

Cable channels that used to cater to narrow audiences are grabbing for a mass audience. A formerly niche channel, History, is stealing more than 10 million viewers a week with “The Bible.” A&E’s third season debut of “Duck Dynasty” reached almost 9 million, way more than most network fare.

NBC’s ratings drop is the most dramatic, finishing the sweeps in fifth place, even behind the Spanish-language Univision. No NBC show rated in the top 25. No NBC show during February came within a million viewers of PBS’ “Downton Abbey.” NBC’s highest-rated show that month was “Saturday Night Live.” Really weak.
Let's restate that number.  Network television viewing, in one year's time, dropped 23%.

McCall proceeds to write at length about how network television producers have been tone deaf to what people want to watch.  While I think that is undoubtedly true, I believe the bigger factor is the numerous options people have for entertainment when they want that entertainment.  People no longer have to retire to their living rooms from 8 pm to 10 pm to watch network fare. They have other options.

Last year, I got tired of paying $100 plus for satellite television.  I cancelled it and got Hulu at $7.99 a month instead.  While I still have some very basic cable, that's only because I get a cheaper rate on my Internet by doing that.  Meanwhile I watch a lot of shows on my computer, including documentaries and the NCAA tournament.  The only thing I've missed so far are the news networks (CNN, FOXNews, MSNBC, etc.) when trying to follow current news events like election results.  Is that worth $100 a month?  No.

We are quite possibly witnessing the death throes of the major television networks.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Federalism and Constitutional Jurisprudence: Where Mark Small Goes Wrong

If you're around Mark Small very long, you'll hear tales of his wild life as a college student - so wild was one of those years, 1975, that he wrote a two volume book on the subject.  Although the counter culture movement which began in the mid-1960s was fading quickly when he entered college in the 1970s, Mark struggled mightily to keep the movement alive all by himself at DePauw University.   Skipping class and recreational drug use was Mark's way of fighting the Mean Old Establishment.

Mark was a first year student, when I was a third year student.  The final year of law school, I was then President of the Student Bar Association.  I, along with other SBA members, gave a presentation to the incoming class.  In the audience was none other than the infamous Mark Small. 

I got to know Mark during that final year. One of my final acts on behalf of the student body was talking him into taking over as Editor of the Dictum, the law school newspaper. H e still holds a grudge about my getting him involved in the newspaper which did consume a lot of time while offering few rewards.

Mark Small (appropriately to the left) on Civil Discourse Now
One thing I learned about Mark is that he will say the most bizarre things when discussing politics and the legal system in particular..  I can't tell if he simply skipped too many government and law classes or whether there just aren't enough brain cells still functioning.  No better example exists than yesterday when Mark began talking about our Constitution and Federalism on the Gary Snyder show yesterday.

I taught introductory classes at the University of Indianapolis and IUPUI for over 20 years.  One of the things I taught was the basic structure of federalism.  Basically it works like this.  The Constitution contains a listing of powers that Congress has in Article I, Section 8.  In order for the national government to pass a law, it has to be tied specifically to a power listed in Article I, Section 8.  States on the other hand operate in the exact opposite way.  States do not have specific delegations of power, but can pass laws unless there is a specific prohibition in the Constitution prohibiting states from passing those laws.  These powers exercised by states are often called reserve powers.

Both the national government and state government have autonomy in their respective areas.  But if you draw a chart of the power of the national government and of the state, you will note there is an area of overlapping powers.  In that area, when both the state and national government can legislate and choose to do so, the national law wins out due to Article VI's Supremacy Clause.

For over 220 years our federal structure has remained the same.  The only major change came with the ratification of the 14th Amendment in 1868 that was interpreted, on a case-by-case basis, as applying the protections in the Bill of Rights to the States.

The concept of Federalism is actually quite simple.  But for Mark Small, whose brain synapses have been firing only sporadically since that fateful year of 1975, Federalism exists no longer.

First, Mark does not believe there are any limits whatsoever on the power of the national government under our Constitution.  Let's forget the specific listing of national power in Article I, Section 8, Mark doesn't care if something Congress wants to do is not on that list.  Mark believes Congress' power is limitless as long as it doesn't violate someone constitutional right as interpreted by the Court.  (More on his view of the "evolving" Constitution later.)

When it comes to States, Mark does not believe states have independent power in the Constitution.  Rather he believes States are merely subunits of the Federal Government, purely administrative bodies with no actual independent legal authority beyond what the national government allows states to do. 

Our government began as a confederation under our first constitution, the Articles of Confederation, and became a federal one under our current constitution.  Since our current Constitution has barely changed since it was adopted in 1789, how then does Mark conclude that our government has made a dramatic shift from being federal in nature to being a unitary system?

It's hard to tell given when you talk to Mark about the Constitution you get a sense of a man trying to clear a room of fog by waving a broom around wildly.  The fog goes where it wants to go despite the best efforts of the man.  But as best I can tell Mark believes the 14th Amendment's Due Process Clause and the already existing Supremacy Clause combined somehow to create a magic potion that transformed our federal system to being unitary in nature.  Of course there are no actual court decisions that repealed our federal system and to this day Congress is still required to specify its authority to pass laws when it does act. Mark doesn't let facts get in the way of his view of how the state and national governments relate.

When you move away from the topic of Federalism to the more general topic of how to interpret the Constitution in general, Mark's views get even more wacky.  The actual words of the Constitution and history behind it have no meaning, according to Mark, because the document "evolves" over time.  Take the 8th Amendment's prohibition on "cruel and unusual punishment" for example.  In three places, the Constitution mentions "capital punishment," i.e. the death penalty.  It is obvious that the Founding Fathers, who Mark likes to call the "Framers," did not intend to do away with the death penalty.  Mark though doesn't care about the actual words of the Constitution or the history behind those words.  To Mark, society has "evolved" and therefore the interpretation of the 8th Amendment should be changed by judges to ban the death penalty.

Of course state legislatures already have the power to ban the death penalty and several have.   Eighteen states don't have the death penalty, with Maryland being the most recent to prohibit capital punishment this year/   The elected legislators in those states apparently concluded that the death penalty is barbaric, not a deterrent, and/or is too expensive, and decided not to have it in their states.  Bully for them.

But for Mark leaving the decision of when society has "evolved" and the law should be changed in the hands of elected representatives of the people is wrong.  Mark believes that judges are not only to interpret the constitution and laws, they should be free to enact policies that are good, even if it means twisting and ignoring the actual words of the Constitution.  In Mark's world of jurisprudence, the actual words of the Constitution and its history are meaningless.  Judges can enact whatever polices they feel is best with the only check being a higher court that might disagree on what those policies should be.

With all due respect to my misguided friend, Mark Small, his view is elitist.  He looks down on the notion of people governing themselves by electing representatives.  He views elected legislators as not being very bright and the voters who put them in office as even dumber.  Federal judges...now they are smart ones.  Let them enact the laws, Mark says.  Okay, he doesn't say that directly, but that is exactly the result of his philosophy of jurisprudence.

In response to his view of the Constitution as "evolving" Mark will undoubtedly point to the change in technology which our Founding Fathers could never have envisioned.  He will also point to the very difficult process of amending the Constitution to effect the changes that judges can make more easily by twisting words and ignoring history.  But the problem with this argument is that it seeks to prove too much.  By suggesting that the Constitution "evolves" and the document is "living" to be changed at a whim by judges, the position renders the document meaningless...a mere tool to be manipulated by smart judges who want the cloak of legitimacy when they by judicial fiat adopt "good" policies that the elected representatives are just too stupid to enact.

Yeah, I don't buy that is the way our system works or should work.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Supreme Court's DOMA Ruling Likely to Support State Power Against Encroachment by the Federal Government

The last couple days legal and lay observers were watching the events at the United States Supreme Court where legal arguments were being made as to the constitutionality of state prohibitions on same sex marriage and the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).

To recap, DOMA is an act passed by Congress in 1996, and signed into law by President Bill Clinton, which said that states did not have to recognize and give effect to legal same sex marriages that take place in other states despite the Full Faith and Credit Clause which would normally mandate that states recognize marriages legal in another state as being valid.  But DOMA did more than that.   It provided a federal definition of marriage as being between a man and a woman and tied some 1,000 plus federal benefits associated with marriage to that definition.  Thus, even if a same sex couple were legally married in a state that allowed such marriages, DOMA says they are penalized by denying substantial federal benefits that would normally accrue as a result of those benefits.  It is this latter section of DOMA that is under attack.

If same sex marriage advocates are expecting a sweeping ruling in which the Supreme Court declares the Equal Protection Clause prohibits state bans on same sex marriage, they are going to be sorely disappointed.    That would constitute Roe v. Wade II, a situation in which the Supreme Court decided to write into the Constitution rights never before previously associated with that document.  (Admittedly the argument for same sex marriage pursuant to the Equal Protection Clause is much, much better than the tortured legal reasoning in Roe that resulted in the "discovery" somewhere in the Constitution of a right to abortion on demand.)   Roe short-circuited political compromises that would have eventually been made should the subject had been left to the state legislature.  Roe left this country bitterly divided over the issue of abortion forty years later.  Even Ruth Bader Ginsburg, one of the most liberal members of the Court, recognizes that Roe was a mistake...that the Court should have left abortion issue to be sorted out through the political process. 

Almost certainly a majority of the Court is going to look at the political battles taking place in state capitols over same sex marriage, including that same sex marriage advocates are now winning, and conclude they should not take over the issue by judicial fiat.

Having said that, if same sex marriage advocates set their expectations a little lower, they are quite likely to be pleased by the Court's ruling.  Accounts of the oral arguments suggest that a majority of the Court will vote to strike down DOMA's provision defining marriage as being between a man and a woman and the federal government awarding benefits of marriage based on that national, rather than a state, definition.  While that won't give the same sex marriage advocates the sweeping national victory they want with a Roe type decision, it will strike down a major impediment to the effect of states allowing same sex marriage.

Ironically that should also make conservatives very pleased.  DOMA's provision defining marriage and awarding benefits associated with that legal definition was an intrusion by Congress on the power of state governments to define marriage.  We conservatives need to be consistent in opposing federal encroachment into a state's policy arena, regardless of whether that policy is one we support or oppose.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

U.S. Supreme Court Finds Warantless Dog Sniff of Home to Be Unreasonable Search

While everyone focuses on the same sex marriage case, Jonathan Turley discusses an interesting 4th Amendment Search and Seizure case written by Justice Antonin Scalia:
While much of the attention this week is on the two same-sex marriage cases, an important ruling was handed down on Tuesday that constituted an increasingly rare victory for the Fourth Amendment under search and seizure law. In Florida v. Jardines, the Court ruled 5-4 that police needs a warrant to use a drug-sniffing dog on the exterior of a home....

The case presented a potential disaster for privacy law. Miami police received a tip that a house of Joelis Jardines was the location for a marijuana grow operation. The police only took 15 minutes before calling in a K-9 unit. There was no criminal activity noted, but they later said that they were suspicious that an air conditioner was kept running for the 15 minutes . . . in Miami.

When Franky the dog arrived he alerted his handler on the presence of pot and that was the basis for the warrant used to raid the house.

Jardines was arrested and charged with illegally growing marijuana.

The Florida Supreme Court found the search to violated the Constitution. Scalia and four justices agreed. He was joined by Associate Justice Clarence Thomas — not someone viewed as a defender of privacy principles. They relied on the principle of curtilage, an area outside of the house viewed as protected. They were joined by Justice Elena Kagan (with a concurrence) and Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor.

In a statement that distinguished the other recent dog sniff case (Florida v. Harris) where the court allowed the use of a police dog with regard to a stopped truck, Scalia emphasized “[w]hen it comes to the Fourth Amendment, the home is first among equals,” he wrote. The right to be free of unreasonable governmental intrusion inside the home “would be of little practical value if the state’s agents could stand in a home’s porch or side garden and trawl for evidence with impunity.” Scalia’s reliance on the 2013 United States v. Jones decision (barring the use of a GPS tracking device on a car) reinforced his property approach to such questions (a problematic rationale as I previously discussed). Indeed, it was that property emphasis that promptly the concurrence from Kagan. Scalia returns to the notion of trespass as defining the fourth amendment protections — a position once rejected with the infamous trespass doctrine before Katz.
To see the rest of Turley's article, click here.
The case created very interesting coalitions on the Court.  On the side finding a 4th Amendment violation were conservatives justices Scalia and Thomas and liberals Kagan, Ginsburg and Sotomayor.  On the side finding the search to not violate the 4th Amendment  were conservatives justices Roberts and Alito, swing vote Kennedy and liberal Breyer.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Republican Councilor Expresses Opposition to Senate Bill 621 Increasing Power of the Indianapolis Mayor's at Expense of Council

I have to hand it to Christine Scales who is not shy about standing up for what she thinks is right, even if it steps on her own party's toes.  This letter sent to Senator Michael Young was also released to various media outlets:
 
Senator Young:

Councilor Christine Scales
Democrats-councillors, residents, and other elected officials have voiced loud opposition to Senate Bill 621 to all who would listen.  If you haven’t heard, there are Republicans serving on Council who also do not support major portions of SB 621.

There was agreement amongst our caucus members to move forward as a group, and with an attitude of respect, approach you privately to share our objections to SB621.  For whatever reason, there has been no word as to whether discussions with you have been attempted or have taken place, and if they have, what the results of such discussions were.

Today it appears that with Speaker Bosma’s blessing, your bill greatly altering the participation and authority of elected councillors in the governance of our city, is moving forward. I take it upon myself then, to voice this Republican Councillor’s opposition to SB 621.

If SB 621 passes in its current form, the fundamental commitment to a system of governmental checks and balances will be severely eroded.  The Council’s oversight and advisement of budgets and departmental appointments and other policy decisions is already compromised by politics. There always exists a tension between what’s good for a political party and what comprises good governance. Votes for desired initiatives can be bartered for with promises of political perks or threats of punishment.  This sort of vote kowtowing already offers undue leverage and control to an executive branch of government- a tighter grip on power does not favor the public that is served. Extra care must be taken to ensure that processes providing accountability and transparency in government are not trampled on.

If there is a determined desire to reset the equation of county governance, then let there be a commitment to more time and input as to what a new city-county government model would look like and what weight voices of elected officials would carry. It is imperative that crafting of new policies doesn't conflict with traditional tenets of a democratic republic, which I fear SB621 does.

I ask that at the very least, you would discuss your bill with the Council legislative body before advancing it forward.

Respectfully,

Christine Scales
City County Councillor, District 4

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Heads I'm Right, Tails I'm Right - Everything Proves Global Warming

Last summer I had to listen to global warming alarmists point to the unusually hot weather and drought as conclusive evidence of global warming.  (Forget for a second that global warming theory is that we get more rain, not less.)  We must take action now!   Eugene Robinson among others penned columns as to that effect.  The worst though was my left-wing friends who gloated with the belief that they were seeing proof of their theory.

This morning we stand only a day away from a major snowstorm hitting Indianapolis.  Funny thing is...we are several days into Spring.  Yep, so far this year the weather has been the opposite of last year.  The temperature on St. Patrick's Day was in fact some 50 degrees cooler than it was last year.

Of course the alarmists now admit they are wrong, right?  Not a chance.  Now we are told this colder than average weather and spring snowstorm is just "weather" and it has no meaning. Climate change refers to long-term changes after all.  So why wasn't it "weather" last summer?  Facts are inconvenient things for the alarmist crowd.

Of course, you also have those who actually try to incorporate the colder, more snowy weather into their global warming theory.  Better yet, they just start calling it "climate change" and that way they don't have to exert any effort explaining how global warming can make the planet cooler.

Of course it's all nonsense.  Last summer's very hot temperature and drought was weather. Tomorrow's snowstorm will be weather.  The climate changes - and it always changes - happen over very long periods.  You have warming and cooling periods that last hundreds of years, often millions.  A 140 year snapshot of weather records - which is how long we've been officially keeping such records - is nothing.   For humans to try to gauge the direction of the climate by their own lifetime experience on this 4.5 billion year old planet is like picking up a tiny grain of sand on a beach and concluding the chemical composition of the entire beach based on analyzing that one grain.

It is entertaining though when cold weather and snowstorms cancel global warming hearings in Congress.  Earlier this March was not the first time that happened.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Report Shows Indianapolis is One of the Least Dense Cities in the Country

In 2011, the Trust for Public Land, which is aimed at creating urban parkland, did a report on density of the 100 largest cities in the United States.   The cities were classified according to density into the following categories:  High, Intermediate-High, Intermediate-Low, Low.

Indianapolis fell into the "Low" category, ranking 81st out of 100, with 3.5 persons per acre.  New York City has 43.0 while Chicago has 19.6.  The city we are most often compared to, Columbus, OH, has 5.7.

For mass transit to be financially viable, you have to have density.  Indianapolis just does not have density.  Even after building this system, not enough riders are going to use it to make it financially viable.  The "build it and they will come" approach has never worked as a strategy to develop mass transit.  Because in most places in Indianapolis it is very easy to travel by car, people are going to choose that mode of transportation over mass transit.

With rail also in the mix, Indianapolis is building a white elephant that will hang as an albatross around the city's neck for decades.  The only one who will benefit from this huge tax increase to fund this project will be the pay-to-play crowd that dominates Indianapolis politics.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Is the Chamber of Commerce in Danger of Losing Its Pro-Business Reputation?

Yesterday, I wrote a column suggesting that the Indiana Chamber of Commerce was pursuing a poor political strategy in aggressively ridiculing opponents of Common Core.  Many of those opponents are people who strongly believe in education reform but simply disagree with the Chamber on Common Core.   Even if the Chamber didn't want to remain neutral on this issue, firing shots at long-time political allies did not seem like good politics to me.  I doubt that those hit by the Chambers' bullets are going to want to forgive the Chamber any time soon as the education reform debate moves on to other issues.
Kevin Brinegar, President, Indiana Chamber of Commerce

But the Chamber seems to have more problems than that. There was a time when Chambers of Commerce promoted low taxes and limited government.  That time is no more.  The Indiana Chamber of Commerce opposes the proposed Pence 10% income tax cut.  The Chamber also supports mass transit expansion in Indianapolis which will raise local income taxes by 20% (after already being raised by 65% in 2007), not to mention also requiring the infusion of a massive amount of state and federal taxes to subsidize the system. 

The Chamber's opposition to the Pence tax cut and support of a local tax increase unfortunately isn't a recent development.

In 2009, when the Capitol Improvement Board came calling to the Indiana General Assembly wanting to raise local taxes, including the tax on hotels, for a bailout, the Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce gleefully supported the tax increases,   In 2013, when the Indianapolis City-County Council was considering maxing out the admissions and local car rental tax to give more money to the CIB, which tax increases would make Indianapolis the third highest city in the country for "visitor taxes," the Indianapolis Chamber once again enthusiastically supported the increases.

It is undisputed that most jobs are created by small businesses, not the large corporations that get the most of the attention and most of the corporate welfare.  Governor Pence argues that the state (and local) income tax hits those small businesses the hardest because most are set up to pass income through to individual returns.  He is exactly right about that.  That's why his 10% tax cut proposal is very pro-business and should be supported by the Chamber.

It is hard to see how the Chamber can continue to claim to be pro-business while consistently supporting tax increases and the increased government spending that drives those tax increases.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Governor Pence Finds Few Fiscal Conservatives Among State's Mayors

Jim Shella of WISH-TV reports on his blog that Governor Pence's pitch for his income tax cut today was poorly received by Indiana's mayors:
Gov. Mike Pence
Governor Mike Pence tried to sell his tax cut idea to a group of mayors today and got a chilly reception.  Pence spoke to a meeting of the Indiana Association of Cities and Towns inside the Statehouse.

When he made a call for the income tax cut he campaigned on, only one person applauded.  “And that’s why I’m advocating that we lower the income tax across the board by 10-percent for every Hoosier in the city and on the farm on a permanent basis,” the governor told the crowd.  He waited for applause and when there was none, said, “and I know we may have some disagreement about that.”
Pence began his political career as a talk show host advocating conservative principles.  When he went to Congress, he continued to champion fiscal and social conservative views.  In those two political arenas, political philosophy mattered a great deal.

As Governor, Pence finds himself facing an entirely new political landscape.  While most of the mayors at today's event are Republican, Pence found that they had little interest in his fiscally conservative message of cutting taxes and spending.

I can't say that I'm surprised.  One thing Governor Pence may learn if he hasn't already is that an entire constituency for taxpayer money has developed over the past few decades in local government.  You have the profiteers - developers, contractors, architects, law firms and others who have become wealthy feeding at the local taxpayer trough.  Municipal politicians have a symbiotic relationship with these profiteers that involve advocating for more spending in exchange for more campaign contributions, which money of course originates with taxpayers.  It's a vicious cycle.

The Republican mayors who advocate for more taxes and more spending are only able to do so because the local political system is isolated from being competitive battles based on political philosophy.  In so many localities, there is no philosophical difference between the major parties' candidates. No better example of that exists than Indianapolis where Republicans have actually led the push for increasing taxes and spending.

Pence would make a mistake to think that those fiscally-liberal mayors actually reflect the wishes of Hoosiers.  Those mayors' constituents are the profiteers in their communities.  Governor Pence's constituents have to be the taxpayers who continue to be victims of the ever increasing state and local tax increases.

Indiana Chamber and Education Reform Group Make Poor Political Decision to Turn on Friends in Common Core Battle

Over on Facebook, where I spend entirely too much time, I consistently see Derek Redelman, Vice President of Education and Workforce Development Policy for the Indiana State Chamber of Commerce, writing in support of Common Core.  But he goes even beyond straight advocacy and often writes comments suggesting those people who oppose Common Core in favor of Indiana's education standards as just being right-wing zealots.
Derek Redelman, Indiana Chamber of Commerce

Derek's a good guy and has been a loyal soldier in the fight for education reform.  But his message is flat out wrong. There are moderates in both parties who are against Common Core.  Andrea Neal, a teacher and an adjunct scholar with the Indiana Policy Review, penned an excellent article about why Indiana should drop out of Common Core and retain the state's own standards which even most Common Core supporters admit are superior.  Neal is hardly a right-wing zealot.  What's more even Glenda Ritz, the Democratic Superintendent of Public Instruction is lukewarm on Common Core, wanting to study it more.

Meanwhile Stand for Children, an organization which advocates education reform including charter schools, and the right of those schools to experiment and make decisions without national and state mandates hanging over their heads, has received grants to run ads in favor of Common Core.

Both the Redelman, on behalf of the Chamber, and Stand for Children, are making extremely poor political choices in waging this political battle.  Many of their opponents in this battle are their friends, education reformers who feel passionately that we shouldn't toss away our well-regarded education standards for national standards mandated through the carrot and stick of federal money.  Whether one agrees with them or not, those opponents have legitimate arguments on their side.  In the next battle, will those education reformers trust the Chamber or Stand for Children?  Many will certainly not.  The Chamber and Stand for Children might well win the battle for Common Core, but the political price they will pay in going against their education reform friends will be permanent.   You know, sometime it's better to remain neutral than to turn your political guns on your friends.

I leave with some comments from Neal's excellent column on the subject:
Plenty of good reasons exist for Indiana to drop out of the Common Core, the national initiative to standardize what is taught in all public schools throughout the country.

It takes away local control. It reduces teacher flexibility. It substitutes the judgment of anonymous educrats for that of expert math and English teachers. It’s too focused on career readiness at the expense of learning for learning’s sake.

But the biggest reason to oppose Common Core has nothing to do with policy considerations and everything to do with quality. The standards are inferior to what Indiana already had in place. They are hard to understand. Yet teacher training, course materials and student testing must all be based on them.

 ...


One need only read the new standards to spot some glaring problems. They’re wordy, redundant and poorly organized. Some of the language leaves your head spinning. For example, Grade 6 students are to “write arguments to support claims with clear reasons and relevant evidence” by using “words, phrases and clauses to clarify the relationships among claim(s) and reasons.”

Compare that with the clarity and specificity of the old Massachusetts state standards, which were considered the nation’s best: “Write brief research reports with clear focus and supporting detail” or “write a short explanation of a process that includes a topic statement, supporting details and a conclusion.”

Or Indiana’s: “Write informational pieces of several paragraphs that: engage the interest of the reader; state a clear purpose; develop the topic with supporting details and precise language; conclude with a detailed summary linked to the purpose of the composition.”
Advocates say national standards are necessary to ensure students have the same foundation of skills to compete in a global economy. If this is true, don’t we want national standards that are clear, concise and easy for teachers to implement?

Sandra Stotsky, professor emerita at the University of Arkansas 
and national guru in academic standards, gives the Common Core a C- or D+. Stotsky testified Jan. 16 before the Senate Committee on Education and Career Development in favor of withdrawing from Common Core.

Her biggest complaint? The standards expect English teachers to spend half their reading time on informational text rather than literature. In other words, instead of reading Shakespeare’s Hamlet, a class might read an article about Shakespeare’s life.

This is a mistake, Stotsky says, because critical thinking skills are developed by reading, analyzing and discussing complex literature. “When you learned how to read The Scarlet Letter you were ready for college level material,” she explains.

...

Monday, March 18, 2013

Marion County Prosecutor Terry Curry Issues Bizzare Statement in Support of Mass Transit

One wouldn't think that a criminal prosecutor would delve into an issue like mass transit. But this is Indianapolis where the entrenched pay-to-play system has all the politicians singing from the same song book.  Enter Marion County Prosecutor Terry Curry who today issued a bizarre statement in support of the mass transit boondoggle and proposed 20% local tax increase:
The Marion County Prosecutor's Office fully supports the need for a functional urban transit system, not just for the economic development benefits but for the tangible public safety advantages,” Prosecutor Curry said. “Safe, affordable transportation is part of a strategic infrastructure that naturally combats crime through visibility, activity and community engagement.
If that wasn't bizarre enough, the statement gets even more weird: 
Further, the built environment and multimodal transportation options can serve to deter criminal behavior and reduce criminal activity using a "Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design" approach....
Huh? That does not make any sense.

Let me clarify what Prosecutor Curry is saying.
I get political contributions from various business interests which are set to profit from mass transit. Therefore, I support mass transit.
Okay, now that makes sense.

Governor Pence Makes Case for Income Tax Cut

Mike Pence: Why Indiana needs a tax cut Indianapolis Star
March 18, 2013


On March 10, The Indianapolis Star published an editorial, “Pence tax cut not prudent;” and while I disagree with the paper’s conclusion, its praise of fiscal discipline is a testament to the kind of state Indiana has become.
Governor Mike Pence

Our administration’s budget is balanced and responsible. While designing our budget, I made it clear that Indiana’s fiscal health was a top priority. I wanted a budget that increased our reserves from the current level of $2 billion. I committed to hold the line on spending while prioritizing key investments in education, workforce, and infrastructure. And I wanted a budget that let hardworking Hoosiers keep more of what they earn.

Thanks to the fiscal stewardship of the Daniels administration and the leadership of the Indiana General Assembly, today our state government is able to fund our priorities, protect our reserves and still have more than enough room to enact the across-the-board income tax relief that Hoosiers deserve.

With the state reporting the largest budget surplus in history, people should be able to keep more of what they earn. As governor, I am just as concerned about the family budget of every Hoosier household as I am about the state government’s budget. When it comes to excess government revenues, it’s not a question of whether the money will be spent, it’s who is best-suited to spend it. I will always believe that the people of Indiana will spend their own hard-earned dollars more productively than any agency of government.

Lowering the income tax is the best way to help the most people. While corporate tax relief would benefit 17 percent of our businesses and estate tax relief would benefit 5,000 estates, 83 percent of businesses and 4.4 million middle-class taxpayers would benefit under my tax plan.

Most of the things written about my proposal to reduce income taxes by 10 percent have focused on whether our state government can “afford” to cut taxes for Hoosiers. My budget clearly shows that we can afford it. Given the daily competition among states for jobs, the real question is whether we can afford not to cut taxes.

Indiana’s economy is still struggling. Unemployment is stubbornly above 8 percent and our economy needs a boost. We need a competitive edge against other states and nations. My tax cut is part of a comprehensive plan to accomplish both.

Despite this newspaper’s assertion that income tax relief is unnecessary for economic growth, the evidence suggests otherwise. Lower taxes will mean more jobs, and 27 states already have a lighter tax burden than Indiana. States with tax climates more favorable than ours are experiencing GDP growth well above the national average. They disproportionately lead the nation in population growth as they scoop up talent and investment that should be moving to Indiana — but isn’t.

Our tax cut is fiscally prudent. Our budget looks beyond the state’s two-year budget cycle and is based on the idea that spending should be sustainable and protect our reserves. In my budget, spending is more than a full point below inflation and reserves increase to $2.3 billion — even while giving millions of Hoosiers a tax break. By way of comparison, the recently passed House budget would reduce our reserves to $1.85 billion at the end of fiscal year 2014 and grow them back to more than $2 billion in fiscal year 2015 — with no new tax relief for Hoosiers.

The reserves in my budget are greater than the entire revenue decline we suffered in 2008-2009 when Indiana weathered the worst recession since the 1930s. Our goal must be to protect Hoosiers against future downturns while giving them the break they need now. The feast-or-famine problem the editors highlighted is not an unavoidable economic cycle. It is an outcome we can prevent by continuing to practice the fiscal discipline the editors praise.

In accepting this job, I promised to be the governor of all the people of Indiana. Across-the-board income tax relief is the best way to lessen the burden of taxes on all Hoosiers, strengthen our economy and protect our state’s fiscal health.

As the debate over our budget continues, I look forward to working with Senate President Pro Tem David Long, House Speaker Brian Bosma, and all the good men and women of the Indiana General Assembly. I am confident that together we will produce a fiscally sound budget that funds our priorities and offers the kind of tax relief that Hoosiers need and deserve.

Indiana’s economy is still struggling. Unemployment is stubbornly above 8 percent and our economy needs a boost. We need a competitive edge against other states and nations. My tax cut is part of a comprehensive plan to accomplish both.

Despite this newspaper’s assertion that income tax relief is unnecessary for economic growth, the evidence suggests otherwise. Lower taxes will mean more jobs, and 27 states already have a lighter tax burden than Indiana. States with tax climates more favorable than ours are experiencing GDP growth well above the national average. They disproportionately lead the nation in population growth as they scoop up talent and investment that should be moving to Indiana — but isn’t.

Our tax cut is fiscally prudent. Our budget looks beyond the state’s two-year budget cycle and is based on the idea that spending should be sustainable and protect our reserves. In my budget, spending is more than a full point below inflation and reserves increase to $2.3 billion — even while giving millions of Hoosiers a tax break. By way of comparison, the recently passed House budget would reduce our reserves to $1.85 billion at the end of fiscal year 2014 and grow them back to more than $2 billion in fiscal year 2015 — with no new tax relief for Hoosiers.

The reserves in my budget are greater than the entire revenue decline we suffered in 2008-2009 when Indiana weathered the worst recession since the 1930s. Our goal must be to protect Hoosiers against future downturns while giving them the break they need now. The feast-or-famine problem the editors highlighted is not an unavoidable economic cycle. It is an outcome we can prevent by continuing to practice the fiscal discipline the editors praise.

In accepting this job, I promised to be the governor of all the people of Indiana. Across-the-board income tax relief is the best way to lessen the burden of taxes on all Hoosiers, strengthen our economy and protect our state’s fiscal health.

As the debate over our budget continues, I look forward to working with Senate President Pro Tem David Long, House Speaker Brian Bosma, and all the good men and women of the Indiana General Assembly. I am confident that together we will produce a fiscally sound budget that funds our priorities and offers the kind of tax relief that Hoosiers need and deserve.

##

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Why Are Tax Dollars Being Used to Promote Mass Transit?

Although the IBJ article is not available on-line without a subscription, the summary should outrage people:
The campaign to expand public transit in the region has generated a busload of money for some media and marketing outlets, thanks to $1 million in federal grants to advertise the benefits of mass transit. 
The article is a piece talking about how great it is that federal tax dollars are getting pumped into the local economy to promote mass transit.  Mentioned prominently are TV stations WTHR and WISH that combined have received nearly $100,000 of those tax dollars for pro-mass transit advertising.  I guess we won't see any critical pieces about mass transit on those stations.

Doesn't anyone see anything wrong with taxpayer dollars being used to lobby for a project that will require taxpayers to pay yet more.  It even more egregious that one side in this contentious public issue can tap into taxpayer money while the other side can't.

What happened to the sequester?  Apparently there is enough money left over to spend $1 million to promote mass transit in Indianapolis.

Indiana Pacers Wonder Why Public the Organization Fleeced Won't Support the Team

George Hill, star player for the Pacers, recently spoke to Mike Wells writer for the Indianapolis Star regarding the lack of public support for the Pacers.  Wells published the comments in a story on his blog:
“It sucks. It was 70 (Lakers fans) – 30 (Pacers fans) out there. These are the same people that wants autographs after the game. We’re out there in the community. We’re doing our job, doing what we’re supposed to do on and off the court. Something has to change. I tip my hat to this team. We’ve been trouble free. Been out in the community shaking hands, we’re winning. It shouldn’t feel like an away game, especially with an important like this. Tonight, that’s what it felt like.”

“They always say your fans are your sixth man and you feed off that energy. Energy is down and we turn the ball over and we’re hearing cheers. We’re missing shots and we’re hearing cheers. That kind of brings your head down cause you know you’re at home. It shouldn’t be like that. Now we see how it is. We have to move forward, don’t worry about. Stay focus on what’s in this locker room and don’t worry about the rest.”

“(We’re) not a team that’s in the bottom in the East. We’re one of the top three teams in the East. We’re winning the Central Division and it should show. Right now it’s not and it’s been all season long where it’s not showing and I don’t think there’s nothing else we can do as an organization and as players. Now it’s up to the community.”
Bankers Life Fieldhouse
This morning Wells reports that coach Frank Vogel supports those comments.

Here is my message to the Pacers' organization:  You reap what you sow.   In 2009, the Indiana Pacers had a chance to help out this community when we asked for a mere $5 million contribution to help avoid tax increases for the bailout of the Capital Improvement Board.  The Pacers (and the Colts) refused to contribute $5 million.

A few years later, the Pacers demanded that we taxpayers pay the organization to run Conseco Fieldhouse (now Bankers Life Fieldhouse), a publicly-owned facility at which the Pacers play for free.  Part of the original deal was that we would let the Pacers keep 100% of the basketball and non-basketball revenue from the facility if the organization ran the building. That wasn't good enough for the Pacers though.  They wanted us to pay to run the place while the team continues to derive 100% of the revenue from the building.  Of course the City's "negotiators" gave in.  Thus far, we taxpayers in the last three years have paid the Pacers $43.5 million.

Now the Pacers are complaining that the Indianapolis residents who they gave the back of their hand to aren't buying their very expensive tickets as people struggle to recover from the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression.  Too bad.  The Pacers are lucky anyone goes to their games after how they've treated this community the past several years.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Indianapolis' Leaders Put Aiding Professional Sports Owners and Developers Ahead of Public Safety

This morning the Indianapolis Star has a lengthy article on the City's recent spike in homicides.  It includes discussion of a "new approach" to crime fighting.  I've heard that before...every few years.  While I do have more confidence in Public Safety Director Troy Riggs than his predecessor Frank Straub, at the end of the day he's limited by resources and priorities.

In 2007, Indianapolis raised local income taxes 65% to hire 100 new officers.  Instead of a 100 new officers, today we have 300 less.

Instead of just looking at crime fighting techniques, perhaps we should look at the City's priorities.  Over the past three years we have given the Pacers $43.5 million dollars.  We subsidize every politically-connected developer with our tax dollars. We are constantly creating new and expanded tax increment financing districts which take money away law enforcement and diverts that money to the pockets of developers, contractors, attorneys, architects and other professionals. We are making poor "investment" decisions, like handing a company $6.35 million to build a parking garage/commercial building in Broad Ripple and letting that company have 100% ownership and all the parking revenue and commercial rents derived from that building.  We spend millions of dollars creating poorly designed bike lanes that bikers rightfully won't use because they're not safe.

At the end of the day though people won't want to live in Indianapolis if they don't feel safe.  Public safety needs to be a priority in Indianapolis.  The word "priority" means a ranking.  Public safety should rank at the top of this City's list of priorities.  Right now it does not.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Celebrating the Success of Federalism as Maryland's Legislature Votes to End Death Penalty

CNN reports:
By a 82-56 margin, the Maryland House of Delegates voted Friday to ban the death penalty in that state. The bill now goes to Gov. Martin O'Malley's desk.

"To govern is to choose, and at a time where we understand the things that actually work to reduce violent crime, when we understand how lives can be saved, we have a moral responsibility to do more of the things that work to save lives," O'Malley said at a news conference.

"We also have a moral responsibility to stop doing the things that are wasteful, and that are expensive, and do not work, and do not save lives, and that I would argue run contrary to the deeper principles that unite us as Marylanders, as Americans, and as human beings," O'Malley added.

...

Maryland will become the sixth state in as many years to replace capital punishment with life in prison without parole. Currently, 33 states, plus the federal government and the U.S. military, have the legal option of imposing the death penalty, while 17 plus District of Columbia do not.
As much as I support the death penalty for particularly heinous murders, what happened in Maryland to me represents a success, a success of federalism.  That and abortion should be a lesson to same sex marriage advocates.  Instead of nationalizing the contentious issue such as was done with abortion in Roe v. Wade and leave a country bitterly divided on the issue of abortion, let the states decide the same sex marriage issue through the legislative process.  We as a country will be much more united in the end and be more accepted with the issue being decided on a state-by-state basis by elected representatives than being a decision handed down by unelected federal judges

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Indiana Attorneys and Free Speech

I received notice today that the Disciplinary Commission has filed a complaint against me based on two allegations.

The first deals with a million dollar plus estate case out of Hendricks County. I represented one of the heirs, one of four children of the decedent. The executor was the one adult child who had been excluded from sharing in the large residual part of the estate.   I filed motions relating to what I believed what had been the improper handling of the case.  When the trial judge failed to rule on one within 30 days, I filed a notice under Rule 53.1 to have the Supreme Court remove the trial judge.  A new judge was appointed.

Several months later, I wrote emails complaining about the handling of the case by the original judge, in particular the failure to follow probate rules and also repeated my client’s assertion the judge knew the executor and had been a family friend. (My client reaffirmed this in an affidavit.) These private emails, which started with the attorney for the estate, were later taken by the mother of the executor to the trial judge who demanded I apologize. I refused and outlined the probate rules he had failed to follow. The emails and the letter where I refused to apologize were forwarded to the Commission.

The second allegation deals with a letter I sent to several Marion County civil court judges regarding the statutory procedure for dividing civil forfeiture proceeds as well as pointing out the comments by the Indiana Supreme Court in a footnote in the State v. Serrano case. I had no civil forfeiture cases before any of the judges I had sent the letter to and I copied the Marion County Prosecutor Terry Curry, Attorney General Greg Zoeller and the Marion County Public Safety Director Frank Straub on the correspondence.

Regarding, the first allegation, it is not a violation of the rule to criticize a judge. It is a violation of the rule, in particular Rule 8.2(a) for an attorney to criticize a judge with information he knows to be false or with reckless disregard as to whether it is false. There has not been any information provided to me showing this standard has been met.

Regarding the second allegation, the Commission claims I engaged in ex parte communication to try to influence a judge.  First, it is not an ex parte communication as I sent a copies of the correspondence to the Marion County Prosecutor and the Attorney General.  Both represent the State and law enforcement agencies that are the Plaintiffs in civil forfeiture actions.  The former provides representation at trial, the latter on appeal.

Second, not only did I not have any cases before the judges I sent the letter to, the issue had to do with a matter when the case is over and issues relating to the civil forfeiture defendant have been decided, namely how the proceeds from civil forfeiture are to be divided between the governmental entities.  As I pointed out, the statute requires that judges make determinations as to "law enforcement costs" on a case-by-case basis with those costs going to law enforcement and the balance going to the Common School Fund.  As media accounts have pointed out, this is not being done in Marion County (law enforcement has been keeping 100% of the money for years) and in most of the counties in Indiana.

As a side note, I would add that several years ago, I do believe Judge Jim Payne who headed DCS until recently sent out communications to trial judges about what he believed was the improper handling of DCS cases and I am not aware he faced any disciplinary charges.

I believe strongly in free speech and that we attorneys don’t lose our free speech rights when we get sworn in.  In my blog, I have been critical of the operation of the Disciplinary Commission, in particular the apparent focus on small law firm attorneys while attorneys at the big firms rarely ever seem the subject of disciplinary action.  (That big firm-small firm dichotomy emphasizes a common criticism regarding the apparent unevenness in how various matters are treated by the Disciplinary Commission.)  I believed it was, and still is, my right to criticize the Disciplinary Commission as well as it is my right, within the rules regarding false information, to criticize judges. I have also publicly advocated for reforming the selection process for Marion County judges, which also is part of my free speech rights.

While I do respect the Disciplinary Commission and especially the Indiana Supreme Court, I have long believed that the attorney disciplinary process in Indiana is in dire need of reform. This new, very personal, experience with the Commission reinforces that belief.

Paul K. Ogden

See also: 

Friday, January 7, 2011, Did Former Attorney Disciplinary Chief Protect Big Law Firm Attorneys?

Friday, May 4, 2012, Did Marion County Slated Candidates Violate Code of Judicial Conduct by Paying $12,000 for Endorsement?: Judicial Qualifications Commission Updates Its 1992 Opinion on Paying Slating Fees

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Governor Pence Seeks to Stop Gambling Expansion; Private Marketing Firm for Lottery Uses Questionable Tactics to Lure More Players

A couple noteworthy stories on gambling in Indiana.

WTHR reports that Governor Mike Pence is lobbying lawmakers to not approve an expansion of gambling despite competitive pressure from other states:
[Gov. Mike] Pence told reporters Tuesday that he has concerns about the industry's effort to bring the state's riverboat casinos on land, add live table games at the two horse racing tracks and approve portable gambling devices.

Supporters of the new measures sought by Indiana's casino industry say they're necessary to keep pace with new competition from states including Ohio and Illinois. They also say the proposals don't constitute an expansion of gambling.

...

Gam[bl]ing in Indiana is big business. It may have dropped from third to fourth in the nation in 2012, but it still touts staggering numbers: $500 million in charitable gaming and $2.6 billion in casino gam[bl]ing.

Neighboring states are now threatening those numbers. Legislation before the Indiana General Assembly is an attempt to curb the threat. It is asking lawmakers to allow the state's two racinos in Anderson and Shelbyville to introduce live tables.
Gov. Pence's hopes of holding the line on the ever-expanding reach of the gambling, and its corrosive influence,, is a commendable goal.  However, it is also an ambitious one.   Over the past decade, the gambling industry has flooded the Indiana General Assembly with campaign contributions.  The gambling industry has maybe the most clout of any industry in the State. Gov. Pence may find that achieving the status quo on gambling is far more difficult than getting his proposed 10% tax cut passed.

Meanwhile, the private firm, GTECH, hired late last year to promote the Indiana Lottery has decided to engage in some misleading advertising to lure more people to play.  Indianapolis Star columnist Matt Tully pens a column rightfully criticizing the new advertising tactics:
[W]hile most of us tend to view all over-the-top ad campaigns with a healthy amount of skepticism, there is something uniquely disturbing about the one the lottery’s ad agency is now unveiling. Why? Because in this case it’s our own state that is trying to mislead everyone, and that is guiding at least some Hoosiers into a behavior that isn’t good for them.

The ads also are preying on emotions in a downright despicable way.

The new ad campaign jumps on an innocent tradition: people sitting around with friends or family and talking about what they’d do if they struck it rich with a lottery ticket. Hey, those conversations are fun -- I’ve had plenty of them, most of which center on buying an island and making major investments in the search for a cure for baldness.

But the new lottery ads use those big-dream conversations as the basis of a campaign that tells people the opposite of the longshot truth and essentially encourages them to foolishly consider the lottery as an investment tool. Few people, of course, will ever make serious money playing the lottery; the odds guarantee that most of us will emerge from a lottery transaction as a loser. You just wouldn’t know that based on the new ads, which make the ridiculous case that spending money on gambling is a secure path to financial freedom.

One ad features a man saying he’d use the money to save for his kid’s college education.  Another says he’d use it to fund arts programs. Yet another preys on a deeply painful aspect of many people’s lives by featuring a woman who says she’d use the money for fertilization treatments.

In a press release, the lottery says, “None of the dreams we've heard would be possible without purchasing a ticket from one of our valued retailers.”

Really? Is that the message we’re hearing from the state? The only way to send your kid to college, or to have a baby, or to have a bit of financial security, or to support nonprofit programs, is by playing the lottery? That message is as reckless as it is untrue.

It’s baloney. It’s actually something worse and smellier. But let’s keep it clean here.

The bottom-line goal of the campaign, of course, is to convince more people to play the lottery, which pours hundreds of millions of dollars into state coffers. Too many people choose not to gamble, and that bugs the state employees who run the lottery and the state leaders who rely on the revenue it provides. But isn’t it worth stepping back and asking whether the state-owned lottery must be an entity where profit is fully maximized, where every potential customer is lured in, and where everything is done to make sure every dollar is grabbed?
...
I would encourage people to read the Tully column in full as he proceeds to slice and dice up even more these questionable tactics.  It's the best thing he's written in years.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

That "Scientific Consensus" About Global Warming?; It Doesn't Exist

Over at Sheila Kennedy's blog she posts again on global warming and chides anyone who doesn't believe the "scientific consensus" that man is causing dangerous global warming is embracing "ignorance" and engaging in a "[r]ejection of reality."

At the outset, I have to applaud her for not trying to recast the issue as "climate change."  The climate on this planet has been changing since it first came into being some 4.5 billion years ago and it will be changing for the next 4.5 billion years.  Using "climate change" as the barometer of whether there is the need for drastic remedial action is more than a little disingenuous.

Kennedy's post starts out with a quote from Noam Chomsky:

"There is indeed a controversy: on one side, the overwhelming majority of  scientists, all of the world’s major National Academies of Science, the professional  science journals, the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) : all agree that global warming is taking place, that there is a substantial human  component, and that the situation is serious and perhaps dire, and that very soon,  maybe within decades, the world might reach a tipping point where the process  will escalate sharply and will be irreversible, with very severe effects on the   possibility of decent human survival.

It is rare to find such consensus on complex  scientific issues."

First of all, Noam Chomsky is a professor in the Department of Linguistics and Philosophy at MIT.  He has written books on war, politics, the mass media, and, of course, linguistics which is where Chomsky's true expertise.  But Chomsky's background is not in the hard sciences. His statement above isn't about expressing a scientific view, it's about expressing a political agenda.  Dressing up political comments as scientific truth does not advance the intellectual ball.

What's more, Chomskey is flat out wrong about the "scientific consensus" on global warming.  Forbes Magazine recently reported on a survey of scientists on the subject of global warming:
It is becoming clear that not only do many scientists dispute the asserted global warming crisis, but these skeptical scientists may indeed form a scientific consensus.
 
Don’t look now, but maybe a scientific consensus exists concerning global warming after all. Only 36 percent of geoscientists and engineers believe that humans are creating a global warming crisis, according to a survey reported in the peer-reviewed Organization Studies. By contrast, a strong majority of the 1,077 respondents believe that nature is the primary cause of recent global warming and/or that future global warming will not be a very serious problem.

The survey results show geoscientists (also known as earth scientists) and engineers hold similar views as meteorologists. Two recent surveys of meteorologists (summarized here and here) revealed similar skepticism of alarmist global warming claims.

According to the newly published survey of geoscientists and engineers, merely 36 percent of respondents fit the “Comply with Kyoto” model. The scientists in this group “express the strong belief that climate change is happening, that it is not a normal cycle of nature, and humans are the main or central cause.”
The article proceeds to, in detail, break down the various categories of scientists in terms of what they believe.  Again, only 36% of scientists, who unlike Chomsky, have an expertise in the hard sciences, think that humans are creating a global warming crisis.  The article also links to two surveys of meterologists - an often overlooked group of scientists with pertient knowledge of the subject of global warming - who don't buy the man is causing dangerous global warming theory.

The American Meteorologists Society survey of television weather forecasters who are also meteorologists found that:
  • Only 24 percent of the survey respondents agree with United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) assertion, “Most of the warming since 1950 is very likely human-induced.”
  • Only 19 percent agree with the claim, “Global climate models are reliable in their projection for a warming of the planet.”
  • Only 19 percent agree with the assertion, “Global climate models are reliable in their projections for precipitation and drought.”
  • Only 45 percent disagree with Weather Channel cofounder John Coleman’s strongly worded statement, “Global warming is a scam.”
They origin of the myth of the "scientific consensus" behind man-made, dangerous global warming is explained in a 2012 Forbes article:
So where did that famous “consensus” claim that “98% of all scientists believe in global warming” come from? It originated from an endlessly reported 2009 American Geophysical Union (AGU) survey consisting of an intentionally brief two-minute, two question online survey sent to 10,257 earth scientists by two researchers at the University of Illinois. Of the about 3.000 who responded, 82% answered “yes” to the second question, which like the first, most people I know would also have agreed with.

Then of those, only a small subset, just 77 who had been successful in getting more than half of their papers recently accepted by peer-reviewed climate science journals, were considered in their survey statistic. That “98% all scientists” referred to a laughably puny number of 75 of those 77 who answered “yes”.

That anything-but-scientific survey asked two questions. The first: “When compared with pre-1800s levels, do you think that mean global temperatures have generally risen, fallen, or remained relatively constant?”  Few would be expected to dispute this…the planet began thawing out of the “Little Ice Age” in the middle 19th century, predating the Industrial Revolution. (That was the coldest period since the last real Ice Age ended roughly 10,000 years ago.)

The second question asked: “Do you think human activity is a significant contributing factor in changing mean global temperatures?” So what constitutes “significant”? Does “changing” include both cooling and warming… and for both “better” and “worse”? And which contributions…does this include land use changes, such as agriculture and deforestation?

No one has ever been able to measure human contributions to climate. Don’t even think about buying a used car from anyone who claims they can.As Senator James Inhofe, Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works has observed: “The notion of a ‘consensus’ is carefully manufactured for political and ideological purposes. Its proponents never explain what ‘consensus’ they are referring to. Is it a ‘consensus’ that future computer models will turn out correct? Is it a ‘consensus’ that the Earth has warmed? Proving that parts of the Earth have warmed does not prove that humans are responsible.”

Senator Inhofe also points out, “While it may appear to the casual observer that scientists promoting climate fears are in the majority, the evidence continues to reveal that this is an illusion. Climate skeptics…receive much smaller shares of university research funds, foundation funds and government grants and they are not plugged into the well-heeled environmental special interest lobby.” Accordingly, those who do receive support typically get more time free of teaching responsibilities, providing more time available for publishing activities.
Sheila Kennedy's claim that the science is "settled" simply isn't true.   It never was. The whole notion of a "scientific consensus" is simply a political tool to attempt to cut off debate.  Academics, especially scientists who are honest about their craft, do not try to cut off debate. They welcome challenge to their conclusions.   As I have long said, the politicization of our science is a tragedy.