Old Guard GOP May Hand Ohio to Obama

As brutal election results reflected, the Ohio Republican Party (ORP) was a scandal-plagued outfit circa 2006. I don’t relish the current ORP leadership fight, but if we don’t want second terms for President Obama and Senator Sherrod Brown we must avoid repeating our mistakes. Party chairman Kevin DeWine’s old-guard ways – combined with his public betrayal of Governor Kasich – make it hard to believe ORP can be effective with DeWine in charge.

Quick hits: this fall, a consultant with ties to Chairman DeWine produced $179,000 in advertising for one of the Big Labor fronts smearing Kasich’s union reform bill. A glance at last year’s ORP campaign expenditures reveals –

  • $753,680 spent in the incredibly close Kasich-Strickland race
  • $1.3 million spent in the secretary of state race, for DeWine ally Jon Husted – including $375,245 in the GOP primary
  • $1.5 million spent in the attorney general race, for Kevin DeWine’s cousin Mike DeWine

If those figures don’t raise your eyebrows, there’s more. In the early aughts, Brett Buerck was a recognized name in Ohio Republican circles. Then, suddenly, he was known more widely… and not for a good reason.

Brett Buerck (BYOO-rik) is president of Florida-based Majority Strategies. In 2004, he was fired as an aide to former House Speaker Larry Householder after a federal grand jury began subpoenaing records on Householder’s fundraising practices. The U.S. Justice Department later declined to prosecute Buerck.

“Team Householder,” renowned/reviled as brass-knuckle politicos, became synonymous with “corruption” in 2004. Buerck joined Rep. Bob Ney, Governor Bob Taft, and Tom Noe on the list of Ohio GOP persona non grata (or at least persona not-terribly-grata) and by all assumptions that was the end of that.

Though Buerck was never prosecuted, seeing money funneled from ORP to his Florida firm – $1.8 million in 2008, $1.7 million in 2010 – sets off alarm bells. Couldn’t ORP find a vendor with a less clouded history? Maybe the party could even spend its money in Ohio, if DeWine contracted with people not banished from the state!

I volunteered briefly for Ken Blackwell’s 2006 gubernatorial campaign, so there are familiar tones in the current fight with Governor Kasich:

“The speaker talks to me through his lawyers,” said [Secretary of State] Blackwell, the darling of anti-tax conservatives and the state’s highest ranking black elected official.

“We now stand in a Statehouse awash in scandal, a scandal that was born under loose rules and grew under blind eyes,” Blackwell said recently.

Householder calls Blackwell a “Rodney Dangerfield of Ohio politics” trying unsuccessfully to get respect.

It seems clear that Brett Buerck’s ORP money stream would run dry without DeWine & Co. manning the pumps. After all, it’s a simple task to pull the gory Cleveland Plain Dealer and Toledo Blade coverage from Team Householder’s heyday, and the Ohio Democratic Party’s affinity for ORP leadership will last only as long as DeWine is arguing with the governor.

DeWine’s public complaints of victimhood, in addition to feeding the leftist narrative about Mean King Kasich, are downright ironic in light of his relationship with Buerck. Ken Blackwell had the right idea in 2004, per this Washington Post account:

Ohioans have been treated to regular servings of leaked strategy memos and e-mails written by Buerck, Sisk and others in Householder’s camp. With a swaggering tone, the documents suggest an approach to politics that borrows equally from H.R. Haldeman and Barney Fife.

[…]

“People have gotten caught up in having power for power’s sake,” said J. Kenneth Blackwell, the Republican secretary of state, who has clashed bitterly with Householder and is investigating the consultants’ dealings. “When people don’t feel passionate that Republicans can and will make a difference, that makes the president’s job that much more difficult.”

Without a break from the people and practices who helped sink Republicans here in 2006, 2012 could be ugly for conservatives in Ohio and across the nation. The question now is whether Kevin DeWine wants the upcoming election to be about him.

Cross-posted at RedState and Big Government.

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Is Ohio Less Democratic Than Russia?

Last week The Columbus Dispatch reported on what has been a recurring theme all year: Ohio conservatives are evil extremists!

Richard Gunther today called the new congressional map signed into law last week by Gov. John Kasich “stunning” for its representational unfairness, saying it is twice as unfair as the next-worst democratic systems in the world.

“This is a very, very bad map,” said Gunther, a scholar of world democracies. “This is extremely unfair to the citizens of Ohio.”

Emphasis mine. Humorous background: in 2009 Secretary of State Husted, then a member of the state senate, proposed a plan to replace Ohio’s partisan redistricting process… and Democrats killed it.

The Dispatch story doesn’t provide this context, nor does it mention that world democracies scholar Richard Gunther is a registered Democrat who has given $950 to Democrat candidates and causes since 2005.

Based on Gunther’s unbiased calculations, the elected Republicans who drew districts according to the standards of the Ohio Constitution are turning us into Russia!

Even the Duma, the lower house of parliament in Russia – a questionable democracy – earns a score of 7 against Ohio’s 24 on the scale. [Higher numbers are worse]

Gunther said any fair congressional district map should include three principles: competitiveness, compactness and keeping intact communities of interest.

“This map brutally violates all three of those principles,” Gunther said.

Gunther is clearly exercised that Republicans haven’t drawn a map beneficial to Democrats. Let’s hear a competing opinion:

Referring to Ohio’s new congressional districts, Tokaji said, “This is the worst example of elected officials serving their own craven partisan interests of anywhere in the country.”

The Dispatch fails to note that election law professor Daniel Tokaji is a registered Democrat who has contributed $350 to Democrats since 2005. Leftist college faculty hate it when Republicans win elections? Stop the presses! Here’s a snapshot of the new map:

No, wait – that’s Chicago, the most democratic place on earth! Compare this to Ohio’s new map and see which looks more Russian (consider also Maryland districts 2, 3, and 4).

Like much of the Midwest, Ohio’s electoral landscape is dotted with several big, blue cities surrounded by red-voting yokels. Whether you want the Democrat voters split into as few or as many districts as possible depends on whether you’re hawking unicorn rides.

What do Gunther and Tokaji recommend? A citizens’ commission for drawing legislative districts, like the one recently gamed by Democrats in California:

The citizens’ commission had pledged to create districts based on testimony from the communities themselves, not from parties or statewide political players. To get around that, Democrats surreptitiously enlisted local voters, elected officials, labor unions and community groups to testify in support of configurations that coincided with the party’s interests.

Neither party likes to lose, and both complain as loudly as practicable when at a disadvantage. Crying about cheating is a glass house proposition for the average Democrat, but look for the Ohio Democratic Party to add this to their 2012 violin concerto just the same!

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J Street’s Favorite Senator

Sherrod Brown (D-OH) is the favorite senator of “pro-Israel, pro-peace” lobbying group J Street. Submitted into evidence: Sherrod is the only senator endorsed by J Street for 2012. Skim J Street’s list of House endorsements and you’ll find Democrat dignitaries such as John Conyers, Charlie Rangel, and Keith Ellison.

For the group funded by George Soros and founded as a Progressive counter to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the nation’s most Progressive senator is a perfect fit. Curious about the policies promoted at the 2011 J Street conference, where Sherrod Brown was one of just three senators in attendance? Hear from several of the event’s participants in this video:

Where would these folks get the idea J Street welcomes their radically anti-Israel beliefs? From a J Street founder, for one:

If we’re all wrong, if we’re all wrong and a collective Jewish presence in the Middle East can only survive by the sword, it cannot be accepted, it’s not about what we do. Sound familiar? They hate us for what we are, not what we do. If that’s true, then Israel really ain’t a very good idea.

Emphasis mine. That obscure quote suggesting Israel shouldn’t exist if she has to defend herself is from… the 2011 J Street conference.

J Street is a vehicle for every leftist argument against Israel, routinely pushing moral equivalence between Israel and the enemies eager to push Israel into the sea. In less than 4 years, J Street has lobbied for a UN judge who libeled the Israel Defense Forces as war criminals, hosted a speaker best known for suggesting Israel may have caused 9/11, and lied extensively about the sources of their funding.

Jennifer Rubin reports that Sherrod has already received more than $86,000 from J Street in a summary at her Washington Post blog:

This is the outfit that called on President Obama not to veto a U.N. Security Council resolution condemning Israel, organized 54 of the most virulently anti-Israel House members to sign the “Gaza 54” letter urging a lifting of the Gaza blockade, provided assistance to Richard Goldstone (and opposition to a congressional resolution condemning the Goldstone Report) and voiced support for continued funding of UNESCO despite its admission of “Palestine” as a member state.

If President Obama’s Israel policies aren’t far enough left for you, J Street’s endorsement and fundraising are great reasons to support Sherrod Brown next November. Otherwise, add this to the list of reasons Sherrod’s got to go.

Cross-posted from Big Government.

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ORP Chair Attacks Governor Kasich’s Staff

For America to have any hope of averting fiscal collapse, the GOP presidential nominee will need to win Ohio in less than 11 months. Each day of Ohio Republican Party (ORP) infighting improves the odds for President Obama and Senator Sherrod Brown, redistributionist extraordinaire.

I’ve already given my two cents on the conflict between ORP chair Kevin DeWine and Governor Kasich, so I won’t belabor this point: DeWine should step down. I do not assume Kasich’s team is blameless, but the criticisms Ohio House Speaker Batchelder shared earlier this month cannot be discounted. Whoever threw the first stone, a public disagreement of this scope between a governor and a party chairman doesn’t leave many options.

My position was affirmed by an Ohio News Network (ONN) interview airing yesterday and covered in Friday’s Columbus Dispatch. The Dispatch story ran under the headline “Kasich’s staff used in effort to oust DeWine,” which says everything you need to know about how destructive a prolonged fight would be:

In an exclusive interview, Ohio Republican Party Chairman Kevin DeWine revealed that members of Gov. John Kasich’s staff were used in an ongoing effort to oust DeWine as head of the party.

So now Ohio’s Republican chairman is conducting opposition research against the sitting Republican governor and using it to criticize the governor’s staff on television. This makes a great headline and terrific fodder for leftists dying to smear Governor Kasich, even though the political activity in question was conducted on the staffers’ time off.

From the ONN segment:

Jim Heath, ONN: Even if Kasich’s team receives a majority of the seats in the central committee next March, DeWine says he will not step down.

DeWine: I’m going to be the chairman of the party through January 2013.

With three years remaining in his first term, Governor Kasich has already balanced a miserable state budget without raising taxes and shown a keen ability to make Ohio more employer-friendly. Another year with Chairman DeWine is a less exciting prospect for anyone interested in showing Sherrod Brown and Barack Obama the door.

Cross-posted at RedState and Big Government.

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Big Labor’s Big Campaign Spending

Boiled down to the essentials, union backing of leftist politicians is good business: Democrats push policies that benefit union bosses at the expense of employers, customers, and often the unions’ own members. This is doubly true of public unions; of course someone who gets rich taking money from government workers wants bigger government!

The case for union reform is tough to make due to Big Labor’s dishonestly political nature. Claiming to speak for all teachers/mechanics/factory workers/Middle Class Americans, unions have a rhetorical curtain thick enough to hide tens of millions in partisan spending. Democrats gain loyal constituents, union bosses get to make unsustainable promises, and corporations take the blame when jobs are cut or shipped overseas.

Take a look at this Center for Responsive Politics chart of top campaign contributors (view PDF screencap):

When Progressives respond to union reform with cries of “racist!” and every victim card in the book, keep this in mind: 3 of the 11 biggest political donors in the nation are public unions.

  • AFSCME – 3rd overall, with 94% going to Democrats
  • NEA – 6th overall, with 82% going to Democrats
  • AFT – 11th overall, with 90% going to Democrats

They’re in good Big Labor company, with 76% of SEIU (5) donations given to Democrats and each of these unions giving more than 85% of their contributions to Democrats: IBEW (9), Laborers Union (10), Teamsters (12), Carpenters & Joiners (13), CWA (14), UFCW (17), UAW (18), IAMAW (20).

Union bosses outspend by millions the corporations whose political influence they get rich demonizing. Democrats are expected to toe the union line as a matter of principle, while any Republican attempt at reform is framed as political payback. When GOP leaders are cowed into silence by this ridiculous double standard, union bosses win – and everyone else loses.

In Ohio, voters recently demonstrated their willingness to buy union talking points. This is why conservatives must work to inform our fellow citizens, and why 2012 is an awful time to push a state Right to Work amendment.

The chart above is one angle of what the GOP presidential candidate will be up against next year. Whenever you hear a Democrat complain about the corrupting influence of money in politics, agree with them – and then present this chart.

Cross-posted at Big Government.

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Sherrod Touts Ted Kennedy’s Morals

Left-of-everyone Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) has a leg up on the layman in matters of faith: Sherrod labored alongside Ted Kennedy for a government big enough to drown us all in its generosity. Sherrod is so charitable with your money, he fought for a “public option” in Obamacare!

At a September 2009 Organizing for America rally in Columbus, Ohio, Sherrod promised to pass a health care bill with a public option — because Saint Teddy knew it was good for us:

When discussing the late Ted Kennedy, “He easily could have walked away” is an unfortunate choice of words.

As we saw last week, Sherrod Brown’s take on Christianity features a central government equal parts asphyxiating and unaffordable. If citing Ted Kennedy is Sherrod’s idea of bolstering a faith-based argument, Sherrod is not a person we should defer to on “moral issues.”

Aside from the implication that Jesus hates limited government, why should we resent the Ted Kennedy standard for socialist healthcare? Teddy himself said it best after the 1969 drowning of Mary Jo Kopechne: “I regard as indefensible the fact that I did not report the accident to the police immediately.”

Ted Kennedy was a contemptible man whose name yielded Progressive victories logic and basic mathematics should have rendered impossible. Whether his failings are glossed over by the likes of Sherrod Brown out of Christian forgiveness or partisan convenience, Kennedy should serve as a moral gauge for no one.

OFA rally footage from YouTube user jmknapp. Clip transcript:

SENATOR SHERROD BROWN: But, what struck me is the kind of life that Ted Kennedy could live and was living… and he didn’t need to stay in public service for 47 years. He easily could have walked away. But, you know, like Pastor [??], Ted Kennedy understands that Progressive government and social justice and economic issues and health care are moral issues.

And as Pastor [??] hap– he and I happen to same, uh, share the same faith, as Lutherans – Pastor [??] talked about, Senator Kennedy understood that part of his faith was the question, the moral questions, and the issue of equal justice, and the issue of health care for all. That’s why he never quit, that’s why nobody in this crowd is quitting, that’s why we’re gonna get health care with a strong public option.

Cross-posted from Big Government.

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Ruckus in the Ohio Republican Party

A month after an election with mixed results for the small-government cause, Ohio conservatives are suffering through a very public GOP power struggle. Governor Kasich’s push to replace Ohio Republican Party (ORP) chairman Kevin DeWine has national implications: the Issue 2 campaign proved how low Democrats, Progressives, and unions (but I repeat myself) are willing to go to win the Buckeye state.

Sherrod Brown and Barack Obama would love nothing more than an Ohio divided, so let’s get this over with.

Even without the laundry list of inside-baseball complaints cited by House Speaker Bill Batchelder, it makes more sense than you might expect to oust DeWine despite ORP’s success riding the 2010 tea party wave.

Too many ORP leaders from the Taft era (concluded in 2007 amid scandal, scandal, scandal, and more scandal) were unprincipled go-along-to-get-along “moderates,” and signs abound that Kevin DeWine falls into that category. How could DeWine expect to chair an effective party in 2012 – to say nothing of 2014 – given his fracas with Governor Kasich? Why should anyone in the POTUS field trust that campaign stops with DeWine will reach the voters they need to reach?

Case in point, Romney and DeWine’s botched October visit to a Cincinnati call center, where Romney failed to endorse either of the issues volunteers were working to pass. Commentators speculated that Romney was being used as part of an ongoing DeWine/Kasich feud – not exactly the press coverage you want in a key swing state.

In early 2010, solid conservative candidates lined up for the attorney general and auditor races. ORP had other plans: enter Mike DeWine, Chairman DeWine’s cousin and a former US senator (lifetime ACU rating: 79.8) unseated by Sherrod Brown in a 2006 election fraught with Iraq war fatigue and aforementioned Taft-era scandals.

ORP nudged Dave Yost into running for auditor instead of attorney general, bumping Seth Morgan out of the picture to make room for Attorney General DeWine. DeWine narrowly defeated Richard Cordray – now President Obama’s Vital Bureaucrat of the Week – but DeWine family maneuvering contributed to lingering distrust between ORP and Ohio conservatives.

Chairman DeWine has also taken heat for his allegiance to Jon Husted. Husted, a former speaker of the Ohio House, positioned himself as a conservative during the 2010 secretary of state campaign only to kneecap election reform a year later. When the House tried to pass a photo-ID voting requirement, Secretary Husted opposed the measure, handing a rhetorical victory to the Ohio Democratic Party’s race-baiters and class-warriors.

Whatever DeWine’s merits or Kasich’s mistakes, Ohio needs Republican leaders on the same page going into 2012. DeWine should step down, Kasich should offer a replacement conservatives can rally behind, and we should all get back to work against Sherrod Brown and Barack Obama.

Follow me on Twitter: @jasonahart

Cross-posted from Big Government.

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Union Bosses Win, Ohio Workers Get Fired

One month ago Ohio voted with its heart against reforms portrayed as an attack on public workers. Ohio, DC, and New York union bosses spent more than $30 million drenching the airwaves in images of sad firefighters, sad police officers, and evil Republicans, convincing voters to overlook a broken status quo.

A month later, how are local governments celebrating the union victory on Issue 2?

Middletown is laying off 9 firefighters, despite the city’s police and fire budgets both increasing by nearly 1/3 in the past decade. In Hamilton, a $5.9 million death tax haul will delay the inevitable:

Inflation coupled with new technology costs and the significant rises in health care costs have contributed to the rise in safety services budgets […]

The Hamilton fire union contract contains a minimum staffing clause, which means overtime if people are out sick or on vacation. When staffing dipped to 106 between 2008 and 2010, overtime was a significant factor in the fire budget increase, city officials have said.

Emphasis mine. Cleveland City School District is eliminating preschool, high school busing, and 75 security positions:

With labor costs making up the majority of school budgets, the district has sought to make up much of that ground through negotiations with unions representing Cleveland school employees. Negotiations with the teachers union have continued since March, with the district seeking significant pay concessions.

Westerville City School District is firing 62 support staff, cutting busing, and eliminating all sports:

Officials from the teachers union have said the plan also would cut about 175 teaching positions.

The proposed cuts follow a Nov. 8 levy defeat in which 61 percent of voters rejected a combined income-tax and property-tax request.

In Lancaster, where income- and property-tax issues also failed:

One of Lancaster’s three city firehouses was closed last month after the mayor laid off 13 firefighters to help balance the budget. The 68 firefighters remaining have predicted response times will increase in the city of about 37,000, but they could not say by how much.

In Trumbull County:

The state Controlling Board has approved an advance payment of more than $1.9 million to help the Liberty Township school district pay its bills.

The reforms in Issue 2 would’ve helped localities control health & pension costs, ended last-in-first-out layoffs, instituted merit pay, and equipped elected leaders with some flexibility at the expense of union bosses. Good thing we avoided that miserable fate!

The unions made this bed, and Ohio voters were gullible enough to climb into it. Or, as Obama confidante and millionaire AFL-CIO kingpin Richard Trumka boasted after the election:

Go in and make war on your employees rather than make jobs with your employees, and you do so at your own peril.

True to form, Trumka insists the problem is Governor Kasich’s refusal to embrace failed “stimulus” spending. Pay no attention to the dishonest class-warriors siphoning millions from government workers behind the curtain.

The sun will keep rising in the east, and union apologists will continue blaming local budget troubles on reduced state spending. It’s true that Governor Kasich cut spending to cover a deficit estimated at $8 billion when Governor Strickland left office. It’s also true that the Progressive solution is Obamanomics at the state level: out-of-control unions, bigger government, and higher taxes to pay for both.

Which has worked brilliantly to date.

Cross-posted at Big Government and Third Base Politics.

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According to Sherrod, Union Reform is Unchristian

Sherrod Brown (D-OH) isn’t merely the most extreme Progressive in the U.S. Senate, he’s also a religious scholar. Week in and week out, Sherrod preaches the Gospel of Progressivism: Greater love hath no man than he who gives generously from his neighbor’s purse.

Sherrod delivered a stirring speech on the Senate floor during the smear campaign against public union reform in Ohio:

In order to meet the week’s quota, Sherrod was obligated to say government union reform goes “against workers on behalf of the richest people in our country.” Too invested to stop at his usual class warfare, Sherrod had the audacity to attack Governor Kasich, Governor Walker, and Governor Christie for failing to meet what he claims as a Catholic standard.

Not to put too fine a point on it, Sherrod’s sermon about “fairness, and equality, and egalitarianism” has nothing to do with any of these things – and everything to do with union power.

This clip only gets more outrageous with additional context: Sherrod Brown is an ardent supporter of government-funded abortion. Paraphrasing Sherrod, I’m not gonna judge his faith – but I’m appalled at my senator’s willingness to cite Catholic literature for a partisan attack on conservatives. A certain carpenter would have something to say about the blameless guy throwing the first stone.

I don’t recall adherence to the AFL-CIO line as part of my Methodist confirmation. My maternal grandparents’ Lutheran church has never mentioned unsustainable government spending as a moral obligation (though in fairness I’ve only been there for Christmas Eve services).

Help me out, Catholic readers: Does Sherrod have a point, or is this just another low in a career of union pandering?

Transcript of the above C-SPAN 2 clip:

SHERROD BROWN: The Bible talks a lot about poverty, and a lot about fairness, and equality, and egalitarianism, if you will, and for them to go against workers on behalf of the richest people in our country – and that’s really what they’re doing in the governor’s office in Columbus, in Madison, in, in Trenton and other places. It runs counter, at least to my faith; I’m not gonna judge their faith, they can – they worship what god they worship, and they read what scripture they read – but, when you look at what, what my faith means, and whether – I’m, I’m, as I say, I’m a Lutheran, I’m not a Catholic, but you look at Leo the 13th and, and, and what he said about what Catholicism means for workers and fairness, uh, you know it’s, it’s, it’s uh, point, match, whatever – point, set, match.

Cross-posted from Big Government.

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Global Warming Alarmism on Thin Ice?

The Register reports on a study from the December issue of Science:

By analysing ancient algae found in deep-sea core samples, Professor Matthew Huber and his colleagues determined that the mile-thick ice which now covers the south polar continent formed around 34 million years ago. At that stage the atmosphere held much more CO2 than it does now, some 600 parts per million (ppm) as opposed to today’s level of 390 ppm.

Although the Antarctic ice sheet formed while CO2 levels were more than 33% higher than today, Washington spends heaps of cash on CO2-reduction boondoggles each year. Antarctica isn’t the only icy show in town, but Prof. Huber described the threat of CO2 melting an ice sheet in terms that would make Al Gore spew brimstone:

“If we continue on our current path of warming we will eventually reach that tipping point,” he says. “Of course after we cross that threshold it will still take many thousands of years to melt an ice sheet.”

Evidence or not, President Obama, the EPA, and congressional Democrats know their priorities: We have seen the enemy, and his name is Carbon Dioxide. Evil activities like “producing energy,” “building things,” and “going places” need to be taxed and regulated further, or Carbon Dioxide wins! If this means the sort of government control Progressives wanted anyway, well, shucks, we’ll just have to make government bigger.

How well are “deniers” countering the decades-long drumbeat from global warming alarmists? A 12/01 Pew Research Center report tells the sad story:

The science isn’t nearly settled enough to slaughter thousands of jobs and billions of dollars on the enviro-altar, as Climategate 2.0 should prove (again). For more, refer to the work of Anthony Watts, Steven Hayward, Jeff Id, and Dr. Tim Ball, who makes the following point:

Few, including skeptics, want to confront the problem that temperature increase precedes CO2 increase in absolute contradiction to the major assumption of the AGW hypothesis. […] Science must be about skepticism, otherwise the science is settled, but then it isn’t science.

Cross-posted from Big Government.

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