Saturday, June 30, 2012

Environmentalists Peddle Scientific Illiteracy

Powerline has this story:

the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s “Carbon Program.” whose web site says:

Since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, the pH of surface ocean waters has fallen by 0.1 pH units. Since the pH scale, like the Richter scale, is logarithmic, this change represents approximately a 30 percent increase in acidity.

Except that the true percentage is 0.7% for a 0.1 unit change in pH.  If the people ever learn how pathetically bad the science is, they'd stop  paying even a nickel of tax money for it.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Your ignorance is not a license to defame

Just lost one of my best friends from college over a political argument.  He's an ardent Democrat.  Not even so much a flaming liberal as a devoutly loyal team player who was raised a Democrat and has never wavered.  He was a good athlete growing up and a loyal basketball teammate.  As an alum, he continues to be a strong, loyal supporter of his alma mater and its sports programs.  It's just the way he's wired.  And he's the same way about his political team.  As a high schooler, his parents were struggling about whether they could vote for McGovern in 1972.  His impassioned arguments about the need to support their team convinced them to stay loyal.

I prefer to be loyal to principles rather than politicians.  But I can respect his decisions.  I know him to be a person of integrity and honesty in his personal dealings.  So how did we lose this friendship?  I have an idea and I'm sure I will develop it more fully as I think about it, but I think it comes down to media bias and the liberal cocoon.

He gets his news from the mainstream media and the DNC.  He simply is ignorant of most of the revelations about the president, his dishonesty, his corruption and his incompetence.  So when he reads something I have written which points out that Obama has set up his credit card system deliberately to make it easier to accept illegal and fraudulent campaign contributions, he thinks it must be a lie.  Because he's never heard or read the first word in support of such a charge.  And he certainly doesn't want to believe it.  Or that the budget scoring for Obamacare was a fraud that the CBO, by law, had no choice but to swallow.  He just knows cannot be true.  Not about his leader.  Not about his team. He pays attention to the news and he's never heard anything about such claims.

He's also convinced, because it is an article of faith among his liberal friends and political allies, that Fox News and Rush Limbaugh concoct lies every day to arouse anger and indignation among ignorant Tea Party types.  I can only assume that he believes that I have foolishly believed a bunch of lies.  His team and his leader have had a really bad month.  I'm sure he's likely a little frustrated (although he'd never admit anything but confidence about the November election).  And no one likes to see their leader and teammate disparaged.

But I don't get my news from Fox News and Rush.  [And Fox and Rush have a track record of integrity that's better than the mainstream media, anyway.]  I get my news from a very wide range of sources with a track record of integrity -- law professors, lawyers, scholars, et al.  Many of them aren't Republicans.  Some were once left-wingers, even radicals.  They are often people who have undertaken the long and arduous task of examining their cherished political beliefs in light of the evidence and realized that they were wrong.  They tend not to be focused on support for parties or politicians because they've developed a healthy disdain for both.  Some voted for Obama.  Invariably they provide source material to allow the reader to evaluate their claims regarding facts.  And every single one has demonstrated a willingness to bend over backward to publish corrections if something needs to be corrected.  They even go to great lengths to identify any edits made of posts to insure that readers understand what has been changed and how. 

My friends don't think I am a liar.  And my friends don't think I am a fool.  So anyone who disparages me with a long string of nasty adjectives which in summary make me out to be either a fool or a liar is not my friend.  It is sad that someone who once knew me well would think that I would carelessly make claims of corruption or dishonesty against the president without sufficient evidence to support the charge.  I can only hope that he did so because of the liberal cocoon he inhabits and his passionate desire to be loyal to his team.  But ...

Your ignorance is not a license to defame.

Roberts joins Obama in defrauding citizens of their most basic right

Justice Roberts and the SCOTUS have violated the US Constitution today.  Justice Douglas instructed us that there are basic rights protected by the Constitution which are penumbras emanating from the nature of the rights enumerated.  I assert that the citizens have a right to be protected from a Federal government which lies to them repeatedly and extensively about legislation that is being passed.

If the Constitution does not protect us from devious fraud by our president and elected representatives, then it doesn't protect us from anything.  Obamacare was sold as something vastly different from what Roberts told us it is.  The public was deceived.  Without the fraud and deception, the bill would not have passed.  By endorsing this despicable behavior, Roberts has robbed the people of the most basic of rights.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Roberts and SCOTUS credibility

An e-mail I just sent to Sean Trende at


I haven't read this anywhere else, so I though I'd point out a factor that should go into Roberts thinking (assuming that he actually worries about the credibility of the court in deciding how to vote on Obamacare).  Everyone seems to think that he should worry that Democrats would view the court as lacking credibility if Obama loses.  I think that's focusing on the reaction of the wrong group.

If Obamacare stands, Roberts will have completely lost conservatives forever.  No possible chance of reconciliation.  And on the flip side, liberals aren't going to trust him anyway regardless of the outcome of this case.  If he actually worries that the outcome of the case is going to cost the institution credibility, the loss will be far greater for a much larger group of citizens if the law stands.  For conservatives, this case is about whether the US has a constitution any more.  Is the federal govt limited or not?  If this type calculation really went into Robers' vote, his focus should have been on worrying that the conservative half of the electorate would revolt.

Obama doubles down on stupid

 Even after the Romney campaign put Obama on notice that there is a difference between outsourcing and off-shoring, Obama put both feet in his mouth with a stunning display of ignorance:

Obama responded thus: “Yesterday, his advisers tried to clear this up by telling us that there was a difference between ‘outsourcing’ and ‘offshoring.’ Seriously. You can’t make that up.”
Stupid is as stupid does.  Maybe BO should have asked the Miami Heats.

Shocker -- Antarctic ice shelves not melting at all

I'm shocked, shocked!
Twenty-year-old models which have suggested serious ice loss in the eastern Antarctic have been compared with reality for the first time - and found to be wrong, so much so that it now appears that no ice is being lost at all.
"Previous ocean models ... have predicted temperatures and melt rates that are too high, suggesting a significant mass loss in this region that is actually not taking place," says Tore Hattermann of the Norwegian Polar Institute, member of a team which has obtained two years' worth of direct measurements below the massive Fimbul Ice Shelf in eastern Antarctica - the first ever to be taken.
According to a statement from the American Geophysical Union, announcing the new research:
It turns out that past studies, which were based on computer models without any direct data for comparison or guidance, overestimate the water temperatures and extent of melting beneath the Fimbul Ice Shelf. This has led to the misconception, Hattermann said, that the ice shelf is losing mass at a faster rate than it is gaining mass, leading to an overall loss of mass.
The team’s results show that water temperatures are far lower than computer models predicted ...

Wow.  The computer models had no basis in reality.  Who'd a thunk it?

hat tip --

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Americans as allies

“The real problem of having the Americans as your ally is you never know when they will turn around and stab themselves in the back.” A Turkish general offers a bit of wisdom.

Duke Physicist unloads on alarmist

Dr. Robert G. Brown takes Paul Bain out behind the woodshed:

The tragic thing about the thoughtless use of a stereotype (denier) is that it reveals that you really think of people in terms of its projected meaning. In particular, even in your response you seem to equate the term “skeptic” with “denier of AGW”.
This is silly. On WUWT most of the skeptics do not “deny” AGW, certainly not the scientists or professional weather people (I myself am a physicist) and honestly, most of the non-scientist skeptics have learned better than that. What they challenge is the catastrophic label and the alleged magnitude of the projected warming on a doubling of CO_2. They challenge this on rather solid empirical grounds and with physical arguments and data analysis that is every bit as scientifically valid as that used to support larger estimates, often obtaining numbers that are in better agreement with observation. For this honest doubt and skepticism that the highly complex global climate models are correct you have the temerity to socially stigmatize them in a scientific journal with a catch-all term that implies that they are as morally reprehensible as those that “deny” that the Nazi Holocaust of genocide against the Jews?
For shame.
Lots of good stuff to read, but moving on to the science:

The Earth’s climate is manifestly, empirically bistable, with a warm phase and cold phase, and the cold phase is both more likely and more stable. As a physicist who has extensively studied bistable open systems, this empirical result clearly visible in the data has profound implications. The fact that the LIA was the coldest point in the entire Holocene (which has been systematically cooling from the Holocene Optimum on) is also worrisome.
  There is absolutely no evidence in this historical record of a third stable warm phase that might be associated with a “tipping point” and hence “catastrophe” (in the specific mathematical sense of catastrophe, a first order phase transition to a new stable phase). It has been far warmer in the past without tipping into this phase. If anything, we are geologically approaching the point where the Earth is likely to tip the other way, into the phase that we know is there — the cold phase. A cold phase transition, which the historical record indicates can occur quite rapidly with large secular temperature changes on a decadal time scale, would truly be a catastrophe. Even if “catastrophic” AGW is correct and we do warm another 3 C over the next century, if it stabilized the Earth in warm phase and prevented or delayed the Earth’s transition into cold phase it would be worth it because the cold phase transition would kill billions of people, quite rapidly, as crops failed throughout the temperate breadbasket of the world.

Now let us try to analyze the modern era bearing in mind the evidence of an utterly unremarkable present. To begin with, we need a model that predicts the swings of glaciation and interglacials. Lacking this, we cannot predict the temperature that we should have outside for any given baseline concentration of CO_2, nor can we resolve variations in this baseline due to things other than CO_2 from that due to CO_2. We don’t have any such thing. We don’t have anything close to this. We cannot predict, or explain after the fact, the huge (by comparison with the present) secular variations in temperature observed over the last 20,000 years, let alone the last 5 million or 25 million or billion. We do not understand the forces that set the baseline “thermostat” for the Earth before any modulation due to anthropogenic CO_2, and hence we have no idea if those forces are naturally warming or cooling the Earth as a trend that has to be accounted for before assigning the “anthropogenic” component of any warming.
This is a hard problem. Not settled science, not well understood, not understood.

 One part of the difficulty is that the Earth is a highly multivariate and chaotic driven/open system with complex nonlinear coupling between all of its many drivers, and with anything but a regular surface. If one tried to actually write “the” partial differential equation for the global climate system, it would be a set of coupled Navier-Stokes equations with unbelievably nasty nonlinear coupling terms — if one can actually include the physics of the water and carbon cycles in the N-S equations at all. It is, quite literally, the most difficult problem in mathematical physics we have ever attempted to solve or understand! Global Climate Models are children’s toys in comparison to the actual underlying complexity, especially when (as noted) the major drivers setting the baseline behavior are not well understood or quantitatively available.

And later he sums it up:
 Why am I a skeptic? Because I recognize the true degree of our ignorance in addressing this supremely difficult problem, while at the same time as a mere citizen I weigh civilization and its benefits against draconian energy austerity on the basis of no actual evidence that global climate is in any way behaving unusually on a geological time scale.

More Cashill on Maraniss

Cashill notes that the truth about Obama is more carefully hidden than revealed by Maraniss.

Maraniss is less an historian than a predictably liberal Beltway journalist, one whose own ideology consistently subverts the truth.  The distortions are many and significant.  In his account of each phase of Obama's early life -- Hawaii, Los Angeles, New York, and Chicago -- Maraniss repeatedly conceals the evidence of Obama's socialist roots to make him appear more of a centrist than he actually was or is.
There are more ways to tell a lie than tell the truth.

 For those interested in "history," I would recommend Robert Caro's recently released fourth volume in his biography of LBJ.  For those wanting to be reassured that, regardless of the evidence, the young Obama was just another dope-smoking, basketball-playing, all-American pragmatist like you and I, then Maraniss is your guy.

Monday, June 25, 2012

What he said

Thomas Sowell 's latest random thoughts.  Good stuff.

Democrats and Euro Politicians

Via Meadia , writing about the mess in Europe:

We’ve been tracking the slow-motion car crash that is the European Union for a while here at Via Meadia, and it gets to feel like we’re writing the same post over and over again. The buck-passing, the institutional paralysis and the general denial that anything is systemically wrong seems to be so ingrained in European politicians that their wrong-headed policy responses have become depressingly predictable.

With Stockton, California about to go bankrupt and various other cities and US States that have been dominated by Democrats facing the same problems, we could write the same thing about the Democrats and liberal pundits.  Or fools like Paul Krugman.  To wit:

The buck-passing, the institutional paralysis and the general denial that anything is systemically wrong seems to be so ingrained in liberals that their wrong-headed policy responses have become depressingly predictable.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Scientists think we're stupid

Willis, writing a guest post at WUWT, points out that the National Academy of Sciences is a joke (note fig. 2 in his post):

people are always saying to me things like “Willis, why don’t you believe in catastrophic anthropogenic global warming? After all, the National Academy of Sciences says it is real and about to happen.”
And indeed, there is a whole cottage industry these days dedicated to figuring out why the American public doesn’t believe what the climate scientists and people like the NAS folks are saying. Some people studying the question say it’s because the scientists aren’t getting the message across. Others say it’s because the public doesn’t understand science. Another group ascribes it to political affiliation. And there’s even a group that says it is a psychological pathology.
I hold a different view. I say that both I and a large sample of the American public doesn’t believe what the folks in the white lab coats at the National Academy of Science are saying because far too often it is a joke. Not only is it a joke, it’s a joke that doesn’t pass the laugh test. It is risible, unbelievable, way outside the boundaries of the historical record, beyond anything that common sense would say is possible, ludicrous, out of this world. I mean seriously, folks … is there anyone out there who actually believes that the sea level rise shown in Figure 2 will actually happen by 2030? Well, they believe it over at the National Academy of Sciences.
So the next time someone trots out the pathetic claim that catastrophic AGW must be real because the most prestigious and highly respected National Academy of Sciences says so … point them to this post.

James Fallows: Blatant liar, deranged lunatic, or both?

Fallows serves up some bizarre crap that the US is undergoing a coup:

  • First, a presidential election is decided by five people, who don't even try to explain their choice in normal legal terms.
  • Then the beneficiary of that decision appoints the next two members of the court, who present themselves for consideration as restrained, humble figures who care only about law rather than ideology.
  • Once on the bench, for life, those two actively second-guess and re-do existing law, to advance the interests of the party that appointed them.
  • Meanwhile their party's representatives in the Senate abuse procedural rules to an extent never previously seen to block legislation -- and appointments, especially to the courts.
  • And, when a major piece of legislation gets through, the party's majority on the Supreme Court prepares to negate it -- even though the details of the plan were originally Republican proposals and even though the party's presidential nominee endorsed these concepts only a few years ago.

Give him credit for one thing -- it's hard to pack so many lies into so few words.

I'm not even going to bother with a full bore fisking of this garbage.  Life is too short.  But Bush v. Gore was decided 7-2.  Only a complete dumbass or a paid liar would fail to mention that bit of reality.  And even the consortium of left-wing journalists that examined every hanging chad in a light most favorable to Gore concluded that Bush had more votes.  Had the liberals running the networks not showed their bias by calling Florida for Gore before the polls closed in the panhandle, the thousands of Bush voters who left voting lines in disappointment would have voted and we would have been spared the circus Gore put the nation through for the next month.  And had the Gore camp not engaged in flagrant election fraud by instructing all the Democrats in charge of County election commissions to discard legal absentee ballots cast by overseas military personnel (in direct contravention of a Federal court order), Bush would have won by a comfortable margin.

As for his following serial defamations of every Republican in DC, he's just as full of it as he was in his first point.  The only coup to speak of appears to be the one that stupidity, insanity, and dishonesty have staged in his brain (giving him the benefit of the doubt that they haven't always reigned supreme therein).

Missed it by that much

Ann Althouse's wikipedia entry ends:

Althouse voted for Barack Obama for President in the 2008 election, and she remarked in January 2009: "he really is a solid, normal person who remained grounded in the middle of all this craziness. And I like to think that, now that he's President, with his steely nerve, his intelligence, and his groundedness, he'll do the job that must be done. The trickery is over."[10]

Missed it by that much.

I check her blog fairly often (Glenn Reynolds, the blogfather at Instapundit, links to her frequently).  I suspect she now regrets both her vote and her judgment of Obama.  He's clearly not a normal, solid person and he sorely lacks steely nerve, intelligence or groundedness.

The interesting question is not so much how she and others could be fooled.  For me, the question is how much blame the news media bears for her ignorance about Obama.  Had the news media not completely abdicated its duty to vet presidential candidates, how much more of his bizarre fictionalized life story would have come to light?  How much more pressure would he have felt and how would he have reacted to that pressure?

We are already seeing signs that he doesn't handle stress well at all and that he seems incapable of leadership.  Isn't it very likely that the same flaws would have come to the surface, if the news media had done its job during the campaign?

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Former SCOTUS law clerks -- mandate toast

A poll of former law clerks and attorneys shows a majority think the Court will overturn the Obamacare mandate. Poll here.

One curiosity in the comments about the meaning of collegiality in recent opinions:

“From what I read of the initial survey results, compared to the surveyed group as a whole I was more bullish before oral argument that the justices would strike the individual mandate as an unconstitutional exercise of the Interstate Commerce Clause power. I was less surprised by the tenor of the oral arguments than others. But: although the usual caveats apply, the collegiality and tone the Court as a whole has shown since then makes me less bullish than I was. If you look at other terms where the "conservative" majority prevailed on divisive issues like this one (see for a very specific example OT2006), well before this time in the term calendar the "liberal" justices often show significant frustration with forthcoming conservative decisions by issuing stinging dissents or oral argument lines of questioning in what would otherwise be less divisive cases. For example, I wonder whether we would have seen the gentle tone we saw in the AZ immigration case from Justice Sotomayor if a decision was forthcoming that will strike down a central feature of President Obama's signature bill. Probably reading too much into it but the Court's tenor lately gives me pause.”

Obama the first Invented-American president

Mark Steyn.  Good stuff:

 Fake memoirs have won the Nobel Peace Prize and are taught at Ivy League schools to the scions of middle-class families who take on six-figure debts for the privilege ("I, Rigoberta Menchu"). They're handed out by the Pentagon to senior officers embarking on a tour of Afghanistan (Greg Mortenson's "Three Cups of Tea") on the entirely reasonable grounds that a complete fantasy could hardly be less credible than current NATO strategy. In such a world, it was surely only a matter of time before a fake memoirist got elected as president of the United States. Indeed, the aforementioned Rigoberta Menchu ran as a candidate in the 2007 and 2011 presidential elections in Guatemala, although she got knocked out in the first round – Guatemalans evidently being disinclined to elect someone to the highest office in the land with no accomplishment whatsoever apart from a lousy fake memoir. Which just goes to show what a bunch of unsophisticated rubes they are.

Wall Street's Bid Rigging Scandal

Three Wall Street bankers have been found guilty in a trial which exposed how Wall Street banks collude to screw municipalities out of vast amounts of money.  And the scandal may grow to show that Wall Street is screwing them coming and going.

I have a small bone to pick with Matt Taibbi's characterization that Wall Street learned this from the Mafia.  Back in 1776, Adam Smith wrote in the Wealth of Nations:

People of the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public, or in some contrivance to raise prices.

Cashill calls out Maraniss

Jack Cashill has been pointing out the inadequacies of David Maraniss' writing about Barack Obama.  It would appear Maraniss has yet to learn the lessons of the Army of Davids:
When David Weigel of Slate posed my suspicion to Maraniss, he responded with the contempt he has lately been showering on us "strange armies of ideological pseudo-historians [that] roam the biographical fields in search of stray information."  Wrote Maraniss, "It is preposterous on its face, utterly made of whole cloth."

I suspect that Maraniss will regret those words.

Cashill now points out that it appears that Maraniss has edited one of Obama's early pathetic pieces of writing in an effort to make the president's prose appear a bit better.  Fraud?

Friday, June 22, 2012

Vaguely familiar

Diana West:
Are we watching the meltdown of Barack Obama, soon to become a radioactive pile from which voters will run come November?

Hmmm.  Sounds familiar.  Will Obama Meltdown?

Only you can prevent climate stupidity

Steve Goddard :

During the 1940s, clever humans came up with the idea that we can stop forest fires by putting a bear in trousers.
 The combination of fire suppression and clever people building houses right next to stands of trees waiting to burn, now costs taxpayers huge amounts of money. Instead of blaming decades of human interference with the fire cycle and the stupidity of home owners, they blame climate change. A key factor in the belief in catastrophic global warming is a total lack of understanding about how nature works.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Bill Ayers and Obama

Jack Cashill  has been on the story of Ayers writing Obama's autobiography for years.  I was tickled by this part of his latest article:
As I came to believe early on, whoever guided Obama steered him towards a grievance narrative like Ali's, if not quite as obvious or extravagant. Even on my first reading in July 2008, I could see that Obama's muse proved particularly eloquent on the subject of the angry black male. 
Phrases like "full of inarticulate resentments," "knotted, howling assertion of self," "unruly maleness," "unadorned insistence on respect" and "withdrawal into a smaller and smaller coil of rage" lace the book.  Yet in the several spontaneous interviews Obama had given on the subject of race, I had not seen a glimpse of this eloquence or of this anger.
The evidence eventually led me towards an odd conclusion: The man who lent Obama his voice on the subject of blackness gave all appearances of being white.  The more I researched Bill Ayers' background, the less unlikely this seemed.  Skin color aside, Ayers and Obama had much in common.  Both grew up in comfortable white households, attended idyllic, largely white prep schools, and have struggled to find an identity as righteous black men ever since.

Death Panels

Thank goodness, the USA could never have something like death panels.

That’s what we’ve been assured would never exist if government is in charge of your health care and paying all costs.
That, of course, in the face of a promise to lower health care costs as well as the fact that the vast majority of health care spending takes place at the end of life.  Forget those conflicting points, death panels will never happen because, well because the left says so. 
Incentive?  Well that’s sort of a foreign word to the left so forgive them if they don’t understand that those two dueling points above provide incentive to end lives whether or not they’re willing to call it the result of death panels or not.
The example?
Well the good old British NHS of course
Shocking news from England today has top NHS officials indicating doctors acting in the UK government-run health program annually kill as many as 130,000 patients prematurely because of overcrowding at hospitals, medical clinics and nursing homes.
In fact they even have a name for doing that – the Liverpool Care Pathway.
Sounds so … benign.
Of course.

Climate Science -- Amateurs vs Pros

Steve McIntyre comments on the new report out of Britain which seems to indicate that the science community may finally be coming to terms with the idea that alleged scientific findings ought to be checked and that checking is a bit difficult, if no one can look at the data or methodology.  He responds to one erroneous claim ("there is a small, but increasingly numerous body of engaged “citizen scientists” that wish to dig deeply into the scientific data relating to a particular issue. They are developing an increasingly powerful “digital voice,” though many lack formal training in their area of interest") by pointing out:

The term “citizen scientist” is not a term that I use nor one that I like. In addition, most of the core Climate Audit commenters not only have formal training in statistics, but their formal training in statistics generally substantially exceeds that of the authors being criticized. The dispute is between formally trained statisticians and statistically-amateur and sometimes incompetent real_climate_scientists.

It is good to see that the institutions are beginning to notice that they are getting their butts kicked by an Army of Davids.  It would be nice if they would acknowledge that the Davids are often smarter and better trained.  But of course, if they figured that out, they wouldn't keep making the screwups which necessitate the butt-kickings in the first place.

Nancy Pelosi's Planet

Nancy Pelosi has completely lost her mind.

WASHINGTON (AP) — A Republican-run House committee's vote to hold the attorney general in contempt of Congress is part of GOP efforts to suppress votes in the upcoming elections, the top House Democrat said Thursday.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said the contempt vote against Attorney General Eric Holder was "a shameful display of an abuse of power" by House Republicans. She said it was not a coincidence that Holder is the government official in charge of preventing voter suppression and enforcing civil liberties.
"These very same people who are holding him in contempt are part of a nationwide scheme to suppress the vote" that also involves big donors who are anonymously contributing large sums of money to GOP candidates and causes, she said.

Does she really think that doubling down on slander with such a bizarre linkage is a winning strategy?  The smell of desperation here is overwhelming.  Or has she just lost her mind on Pluto?

Given her Obamacare explanations, I think Pluto may be the best explanation.  Steve Hayward writes:

Now, I know that Pelosi is among the most incoherent and inarticulate Speakers of the House ever, but this is beyond comically unpersuasive.  Really–it took her two years to come up with this?  It is beyond unpersuasive—it is unserious.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The free man

“The free man owns himself. He can damage himself with either eating or drinking; he can ruin himself with gambling. If he does he is certainly a damn fool, and he might possibly be a damned soul; but if he may not, he is not a free man any more than a dog.”

~G.K. Chesterton

Obama -- "utter incoherence and illogic"

Victor Davis Hanson:

 One of the strangest aspects of Obama’s rationalizations is their utter incoherence and illogic: He brags that America pumped more oil and gas under his watch, even as he did his best to stop just that on public lands; he brags that he put in fewer regulations than did Bush, even as he boasts that he reined in business; he brags that he had to borrow $5 trillion to grow government in order to save the country, even as he claims he reduced the size of government. Why does Obama try to take credit for things on Tuesday that he damned on Monday?

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

"This was their finest hour" -- June 18, 1940

I expect that the Battle of Britain is about to begin. Upon this battle depends the survival of Christian civilization. Upon it depends our own British life, and the long continuity of our institutions and our Empire. The whole fury and might of the enemy must very soon be turned on us.

Hitler knows that he will have to break us in this Island or lose the war. If we can stand up to him, all Europe may be free and the life of the world may move forward into broad, sunlit uplands. But if we fail, then the whole world, including the United States, including all that we have known and cared for, will sink into the abyss of a new Dark Age made more sinister, and perhaps more protracted, by the lights of perverted science.

Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duties, and so bear ourselves that if the British Empire and its Commonwealth last for a thousand years, men will still say, 'This was their finest hour.'

Winston Churchill

Rubio on CNBC this morning

Senator Rubio is on CNBC this morning.  Joe Kirnan just remarked that he can't wait to see Rubio debate Biden (if Rubio is tabbed by Romney for the VP slot).  It would be a 1st round knockout.  Joe's right, but I don't see any way that Obama's campaign would allow Biden to debate on tv against someone who would so clearly destroy him and expose him as a fool.

Six Economic Myths

Xavier Sala-I-Martin explains some key myths about global economic growth and the alleviation of poverty in a short TED lecture from November.  The most interesting are the fifth and sixth.  The fifth begins around the 7 minute mark.  Essentially, we misunderstand the source of economic innovation and growth.  Therefore, we misallocate government resources into technological R and D. 

Monday, June 18, 2012

Global warming: second thoughts of an environmentalist

German environmentalist, Professor Fritz Vahrenholt says:

For many years, I was an active supporter of the IPCC and its CO2 theory. Recent experience with the UN's climate panel, however, forced me to reassess my position. In February 2010, I was invited as a reviewer for the IPCC report on renewable energy. I realised that the drafting of the report was done in anything but a scientific manner. The report was littered with errors and a member of Greenpeace edited the final version. These developments shocked me. I thought, if such things can happen in this report, then they might happen in other IPCC reports too.
Good practice requires double-checking the facts.
 He should have known that climate scientists don't believe in fact checking, audits or replication.  Nobody checks anyone else's work.  Ever.

 the IPCC's current climate models cannot explain the climate history of the past 10,000 years. But if these models fail so dramatically in the past, how can they help to predict the future? Furthermore, what is little known is that CO2 also requires a strong amplifier if it were to aggressively shape future climate as envisaged by the IPCC. CO2 alone, without so-called feedbacks, would only generate a moderate warming of 1.1°C per CO2 doubling. The IPCC assume in their models that there are strong amplification processes, including water vapour and cloud effects which, however, are also still poorly understood, like solar amplification.
  Rather than being largely settled, there are more and more open climate questions which need to be addressed in an impartial and open-minded way. ... we need comprehensive research on the underestimated role of natural climate drivers.

Watermelons, Pickups and Volts

In May, Ford F series trucks, Chevy Silverados, and Dodge Ram trucks accounted for over 115,000 sales.  In addition, there are a variety of other makes and models of pickup trucks which were purchased by American consumers last month.  Sales of the Chevy Volt reached a total of 1680 cars.  We could post the names of the Volt purchasers, but for our finely-honed appreciation for the importance of privacy and the fact that the poor schmucks have probably suffered enough already.  Envious environmental wackos are turning green and seeing red over the disparity (although that's not why they are called watermelons).  But it shouldn't be hard to understand why consumers are revolted by the Volt.

Pickup trucks are useful for doing work and other important things that people need to get done.  Volts are incredibly expensive golf carts that aren't even allowed on the golf course.  In the inimitable words of Junie B. Jones -- "Boom, do the math!"

The Peter Principle President

Fred Barnes, in a blurb on Hugh Hewitt's new book, The Brief Against Obama, describes BO as the Peter Principle President.  I'm not sure that I agree.  The concept behind the Peter Principle is that people get promoted because they are competent at their old jobs and only languish without promotion when they reach a position for which they are incompetent.  I don't see any evidence that Obama has ever been competent at anything he's ever done.

I agree with Hewitt:

that Obama's has been a disastrous presidency, a fiasco in fact, and reveals the president to be a wholly unprepared and incapable-of-learning ideologue whose nearly every move has been wrong, and whose almost every decision has been ill-conceived and poorly executed. But for the SEALs' dispatch of bin Laden and the military's removal of al-Awalki and other terrorists---whom the president still seeks to remove from Gitmo to domestic courts in the United States---Obama would be wholly without anything to claim as an achievement of his time in the Oval Office.

In addition to the monumental failures of Obamacare, the soaring unemployment rate, the 2009 "stimulus" and the massive debt, Hugh Hewitt examines the scores and scores of broken promises and fraudulent forecasts, dozens of dodges and hundreds of disastrous innovations that President Obama has inflicted on America. It has been a reign of incompetency not before seen in the country---ever. According to Hewitt, President Obama is not just a failed president, but the most spectacularly failed president of modern times

Robert Samuelson on Obamacare

Ouch. That'll leave a mark.

We pay our presidents for judgment, and President Obama committed a colossal error of judgment in making health-care "reform" a centerpiece of his first term. 

Tiger Woods -- missing the C and L

I know Tiger Woods is always under a tremendous amount of scrutiny and he is struggling to come to grips with his golf game and his personal past.  But sometimes, he seems to make great effort to show a lack of class.  This past Friday, after the 2d round of the US Open, Tiger was tied for the lead and many observers thought he was likely to get his first major since "the troubles".  During his press conference after his round, a reporter asked him for his thoughts on the young high school student, Beau Hossler age 17, and the fact that he had been leading the Open for a short time late in his round.

This question is the easiest softball imaginable.  Tiger simply says something nice, something complimentary about a youngster and he makes everybody look good and everybody feel good.  Something as simple as "Yeah, how about that?!  I'm sure it was exciting for Beau.  I haven't seen him, but he must be a heckuva golfer.  I'm sure he's thrilled to have made the cut and to still be in contention."

Instead, Tiger dismisses the feat, remarks that there are a lot of holes left in the tournament, and talks about himself and his record as a young amateur.  No class.  We all know he's self-centered (I'm sure he sees it as 'focused'), but this was a really silly fumble.  Say something nice about someone else.  Even if you don't mean it.  How hard can it be?

Friday, June 15, 2012

Through the looking glass and Inside the liberal cocoon

Jay Cost discusses the myth of GOP intransigence.  He documents how Obama made no effort to reach out to Congressional Republicans and refused to make any compromises.  He simply jammed through all his disastrous legislation on purely partisan, straight party votes.  Now he wants to blame the GOP because they won't agree to more of his madness. The news media naturally loves to point the finger at the GOP and call them irresponsible and extreme. 

My comment -- The utter ridiculousness of the Democratic talking points of extremism or intransigence can be seen by their reaction to the debate over raising the debt limit. The GOP made a simple request for basic responsibility -- before we increase the credit limit on the credit card let's have a conversation about how we intend to pay off some of this debt. The liberals howled that this was extreme and irresponsible.

That's where how bizarre it is inside the liberal cocoon -- a plan to pay off debt is irresponsible. 'Responsible' means running up the credit card without a plan to pay it off.  Curiouser and curiouser.

Obama's biggest problem

The more Obama is Obama the worse he does.  Unless he finds a way to reinvent himself, he is in bad shape for November. Worse for him, he's got nothing on his resume to indicate that he has what it takes to make the necessary changes or to sell such changes to the public. As we saw from his disastrous economic speech yesterday, he seems intent on trying to run the same failed plays over and over.  It's likely that he can't think of anything else to try.  And it isn't just his failed policy plays.  It's the way he executes his fundamental techniques.

BO has a track record of falsehoods, slander and dirty tricks.  When he was the media darling, it didn't matter.  But the tingle is long gone.  The news media will certainly continue to work for him, but the work has become drudgery.  His opponents sense it is now socially acceptable to point out his flaws and sometimes even his supporters are joining in.  Lefty cheerleader, Dana Milbank, has a column today entitled "Skip the falsehoods, Mr President, and give us a plan" in which he chastises Obama for his "falsehood wrapped in a fallacy".

But Obama was just being Obama.  He routinely mis-characterizes his opponents' proposals, sets up false choices, claims unrealistic benefits from his proposals, and slanders anyone who disagrees with him.  He's fundamentally an unserious person with a penchant for pointing the finger of blame at everyone but himself.  These aren't attractive qualities.  As voters pay more attention, they will become increasingly unattractive.

Like a football coach who thinks his brilliant coaching is the reason for his previous success against weak opponents, BO's instinct now that he finds his standard plays aren't working will be to get back to basics, focus on fundamentals, and work harder at doing the things that have been successful for him in the past.  It's unlikely he will realize that those very things are the things the voters find unattractive.

And even if he should realize this, it seems unlikely that he will be able to come up with new plays and a new way to execute them.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

FDR couldn’t make it in today’s Democratic Party!

Heh.  Glenn

It would be reductive and predictable for me to point out that all three of these Obama-era problems have a single cause: public employee unions, which helped delay the stimulus, which protect non-essential jobs along with essential jobs, and which negotiate unsustainable layoff-inducing benefits packages (because it’s easier to win a union leadership election if you increase the benefits of 90% of your members while laying off 10% than if you lower the benefits of 100% of your workers by 10%–and piss them all off).
So I won’t do that. …
I also won’t point out that FDR didn’t have to deal with public employee unions. And when his WPA faced a strike by traditional unions, he broke it.
FDR couldn’t make it in today’s Democratic Party.

I know I just reproduced his entire post.  I just like it that much.  And I don't think he minds.

What you can get for $2900

Housing. In Detroit, it will buy you a 4 bedroom house.  In North Dakota, it will rent you a 3 bedroom house for a month.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Does Obama listen?

Michael Barone writes that Obama doesn't listen to Republicans or Democrats in Congress and doesn't seem to listen to ordinary people at all.  He argues that he does listen to rich liberals, especially since, with all the fundraisers he does, they are the only people who spends time with.  The evidence certainly seems to support the idea that he is listening to these rich liberals and making policy moves they approve of.

But I'm not sure Barone has made the case that Obama is listening to them either.  I think that Obama's policy moves are perfectly consistent with his own thinking.  And given the enormous size of his ego and all the evidence of the last four years, I have serious doubt that he ever listens to anyone.

"The more we attempt to know ourselves, the less we actually understand."

New bias studies show that more intelligent people are more likely to suffer bias and mental mistakes:

Perhaps our most dangerous bias is that we naturally assume that everyone else is more susceptible to thinking errors, a tendency known as the “bias blind spot.” This “meta-bias” is rooted in our ability to spot systematic mistakes in the decisions of others—we excel at noticing the flaws of friends—and inability to spot those same mistakes in ourselves. Although the bias blind spot itself isn’t a new concept, West’s latest paper demonstrates that it applies to every single bias under consideration, from anchoring to so-called “framing effects.” In each instance, we readily forgive our own minds but look harshly upon the minds of other people.
And here’s the upsetting punch line: intelligence seems to make things worse. The scientists gave the students four measures of “cognitive sophistication.” As they report in the paper, all four of the measures showed positive correlations, “indicating that more cognitively sophisticated participants showed larger bias blind spots.” This trend held for many of the specific biases, indicating that smarter people (at least as measured by S.A.T. scores) and those more likely to engage in deliberation were slightly more vulnerable to common mental mistakes.

Obama losing his turns

Neoneocon says Obama seems to be losing his turns (a ballet term).  I think this is in keeping with the theme I laid out wondering if he'd have a meltdown.

Senator Corker

Senator Bob Corker is questioning Jamie Dimon right now during a Senate hearing.  CNBC has it live.  Corker is one of the very few politicians I can even bear to listen to on television.  He's great.  He gets it.  He's smart.  He understands the problems and works for solutions instead of sound bites.  We need a few hundred more like him.

"If we only do what we can do forever, we won't do very much."

Herbert Stein

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Observations on TOA Forcing vs Temperature

Willis Eschenbach has some interesting thoughts about ways to estimate climate sensitivity.  [Important in arguments re: tipping points, global warming, etc.]

Note -- Robert Brown (3d commenter) is a physics professor at Duke who has written some interesting observations regarding the methodological shortcomings of current climate science.

Keep him explaining

Obama's apologists keep saying that his comment that 'the private sector is fine' was merely a poor choice of words taken out of context (although a reading of the transcript very clearly shows it wasn't taken out of context at all).  But every time Obama or his syncophants try to explain what he meant, they just drive the point home even more. 

I wonder if the lefties will ever understand that the issue is not that the public didn't understand what BO meant.  We understand very well what he meant.  That's what has people so exercised. Keep the explanations coming.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Charities funded by govt which lobby govt for political purposes

In the UK, 27,000 charities get most of their funding from government and spend their money lobbying and propagandizing to the general public for government to spend more on politicians' pet causes.  I wonder how bad the scandal is in the US.

Chinese Kleptocracy

Whoa.  I have no idea what to think about this story The Chinese Kleptocracy Is Like Nothing Ever Seen In Human History, And This Is How It Works .  Interesting, though.  Very interesting.

Telling us what to think

This story by Major Garrett is ridiculous.  The purpose of the story is tell us what the Obama campaign wants us to think about his claim, which he made repeatedly Friday, that the private sector was fine and that the public sector needed more funding.  It might as well be a reprint of a press release.  No balance.  No pushback.   

All spin, all the time.

When neither husband nor wife can write

Jack Cashill has written extensively on the president's inadequacy as a writer and his fraudulent claim to have written his autobiography (i.e. his fictional account of how he wrote the fictional account of his life).  Michelle Obama suffers from the same problems:
Unaided, Obama tends to the awkward, passive, and verbose.  The phrase "our concern in this area is most appropriately directed at any employer" would more profitably read, "we should focus on the employer." "Concern" is simply the wrong word.

Scarier than Obama's style, however, is his thinking.  A neophyte race-hustler after his three years in Chicago, Obama is keen to browbeat those who would "even insinuate" that affirmative action rewards the undeserving, results in inappropriate job placements, or stigmatizes its presumed beneficiaries.

In the case of Michelle Obama, affirmative action did all three.  The partners at Sidley Austin learned this the hard way.  In 1988, they hired her out of Harvard Law under the impression that the degree meant something.  It did not.  By 1991, Michelle was working in the public sector as an assistant to the mayor.  By 1993, she had given up her law license.

Had the partners investigated Michelle's background, they would have foreseen the disaster to come.  Sympathetic biographer Liza Mundy writes, "Michelle frequently deplores the modern reliance on test scores, describing herself as a person who did not test well."

She did not write well, either.  Mundy charitably describes her senior thesis at Princeton as "dense and turgid."  The less charitable Christopher Hitchens observes, "To describe [the thesis] as hard to read would be a mistake; the thesis cannot be 'read' at all, in the strict sense of the verb.  This is because it wasn't written in any known language." 

Why so many Economists remain Clueless

From a good summary of what ails Detroit:
The third lesson is moral. Detroit’s institutions have long been marked by corruption, venality, and self-serving. Healthy societies have high levels of trust. Who trusts Detroit? This is not angels-dancing-on-the-head-of-a-pin stuff. People do not invest in firms, industries, cities, or countries they do not trust. Corruption makes people poor.
(emphasis added)

Let's highlight that a little more -- People do not invest in firms, industries, cities, or countries they do not trust. Corruption makes people poor.

We have a tendency sometimes to view corruption too narrowly.  We see it as nearly synonymous with criminality.  It doesn't have to be.  A journalist who proclaims he is non-partisan is corrupt if he actually works to advance a political party or cause.  A politician is corrupt, not just when he takes bribes or sells government action in exchange for political power, but when he lies to the voters and misleads them as to his intentions or the impacts of his policies. That kind of corruption also makes us poor.

Note further, it doesn't even require corruption to create a loss of trust.  Investors will not invest and customers will not buy if they do not trust a company to produce safe products, even when the company is honestly trying to do its best.  Incompetence can also produce a loss of trust.  Of course, corruption and incompetence is the ultimate double whammy.

And this brings us to the United States in 2012 -- at least half the country has lost trust in the government and the leadership thereof.  Some are convinced that Obama is corrupt.  Others are convinced he's incompetent.  Some, both.  Either way, large numbers of investors, businesses, customers, and citizens have lost trust.  They don't feel that the nation is on the right track and they don't believe that it can get back on the right track as long as Obama is president.  People do not invest in ... countries they do not trust.

This is why the economic models don't work.  A fundamental assumption that underlies all the econometrics is that people will use available cash in a normal fashion, invest in a normal fashion, hire workers in a normal fashion, respond to incentives in a normal fashion.  But normal, in America, implies a certain level of trust that our government leaders aren't going to screw up so badly that they bankrupts us, our business, our government.  We no longer have that 'normal' trust.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Only in America

This comes from James Delingpole:

1) Only in America could the President talk
about the greed of the rich at a $35,000 a plate campaign fund-raising  event.
2) Only in America could people claim that  the government still
discriminates against black Americans when we have a black President, a
black Attorney General, and roughly 18% of the federal work force  is black
while 12% of the population is black.
3) Only in America could we have had the two  people most responsible
for our tax code, Timothy Geithner, the head of the  Treasury Department
and Charles Rangel who once ran the Ways and Means  Committee, BOTH turn out
to be tax cheats who are in favor of higher  taxes.
4) Only in America can we have terrorists  kill people in the name of
Allah and have the President and the media react by  fretting that Muslims might be harmed by the backlash.
5) Only in America would we make people who  want to legally become American citizens wait for years in their home countries  and pay tens of
thousands of dollars for the privilege while we discuss letting  anyone who
sneaks into the country illegally just become American  citizens. 6) Only in America could the people who  believe in balancing the
budget and sticking by the country's Constitution be  mocked by the President
and labeled "extremists" by the media.
7) Only in America are you required to  present a driver's license to
cash a check or buy alcohol, but not to  vote.
8) Only in America could the President and  the media blame oil
companies for gouging the public because the price of gas  went up when the return
on equity invested in a most major oil companies is less  than half that of
a company making tennis shoes (Nike).
9) Only in America could the government  collect more tax dollars from
the people than any nation in recorded history,  but still spend over a
trillion dollars more than it has per year while the  President complain that
there is not nearly enough money to do what he  wants.
10) Only in America could the people who pay  86% of all income taxes
be accused by the President of not paying their "fair  share" on
behalf of the people who don't pay any income taxes at  all.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

If Hollywood had an action movie political throwdown

Suppose Republicans and Democrats had an action movie throwdown.  GOP team's lineup features Arnold Schwarzenegger, Chuck Norris, Clint Eastwood, Sylvester Stallone, Bruce Willis, Mel Gibson, and Hulk Hogan.  Hey Democrats -- who ya got?

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Strange happenin's in baseball

Quick check of the Major League Baseball standings.  Okay, show of hands.  We are now past the one-third mark for the year.  How many of the millions and millions of fans and pundits had the Orioles in first and the Red Sox last in the AL East?  And Washington leading the NL East with Philly in last?  [Really?!  I think both of you are lying.]

And we should note that the AL Central continues to have the bizarre situation where every single team in the division has a better record on the road than at home.  Crazy.

What she said

Ann Coulter.  Read it.  The whole thing. 

She shoots.  She scores.

Union argument rejected by Wisconsin voters

The American left as we have come to know it suffered a devastating blow in Wisconsin last night. The organized heart of the left gave everything it had to the fight against Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker: heart, shoe leather, wallet and soul. The left picked this fight, on the issue and in the place of its choice; it chose to recall Walker because it believed it could win a showcase victory. That judgement was fatally flawed; it is part of a larger failure to grasp the nature of American politics and the times in which we live.

The left gave this fight everything it had. It called all the troops it could find; it raised all the money it could; it summoned the passion of its grassroots supporters, all the moral weight and momentum remaining to the American labor movement and every ounce of its strength and its will.

And it failed.
My emphasis.  This point hasn't received sufficient notice.  The Democrats picked this fight.  In fact, the last two years in Wisconsin have been one long, bizarre temper tantrum.

 For labor, this was a key test of strength and clout. Scott Walker attacked the American labor movement where it lives: the public sector unions are the only bright spot in the dismal world of modern American unions.
The public sector unions are critical to what remains of the American left. The power of the public service unions in Democratic politics pulls the entire party to the left and gives ideas that are important to the left an access to power that they would otherwise lack. But more important than that, they provide a kind of center to a movement that otherwise threatens to fragment into antagonistic cliques.
 This is one reason the Wisconsin reforms stimulated such a powerful and united emotional wave of push back from virtually every section of the left. The threat to the public unions isn’t just a threat to a powerful source of funding for left-liberal candidates and to strong organizations with political experience and muscle; it’s a threat to the heart of the left coalition and to the structures that give the left much of its power in Democratic and therefore in national politics.

Democrats didn't lose last night because they had less in the way of money and resources (they had plenty).  They lost because a voting public that had been hearing the union's arguments non-stop for 2 years didn't buy what they were selling.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Why tuition keeps going up

Stupid college tricks:
Not only have diversity sinecures been protected from budget cuts, their numbers are actually growing. The University of California at San Diego, for example, is creating a new full-time “vice chancellor for equity, diversity, and inclusion.” This position would augment UC San Diego’s already massive diversity apparatus, which includes the Chancellor’s Diversity Office, the associate vice chancellor for faculty equity, the assistant vice chancellor for diversity, the faculty equity advisors, the graduate diversity coordinators, the staff diversity liaison, the undergraduate student diversity liaison, the graduate student diversity liaison, the chief diversity officer, the director of development for diversity initiatives, the Office of Academic Diversity and Equal Opportunity, the Committee on Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation Issues, the Committee on the Status of Women, the Campus Council on Climate, Culture and Inclusion, the Diversity Council, and the directors of the Cross-Cultural Center, the Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Resource Center, and the Women’s Center.

hat tip


Democrats keep stooping lower:
A Democratic super-PAC is running an ad in the special election race to replace Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) that features the Republican nominee calling Giffords "a hero of nothing."
The remarks by Republian candidate Jesse Kelly were made in August 2010 — about five months before the shooting spree in Giffords's district that killed six, critically wounded the three-term congresswoman and led to her resignation from the House. Kelly ran against Giffords in 2010 and lost by less than 2 points.
"And now she stands there with that smile and pretends to be some type of hometown hero," Kelly says in the ad. "She's a hero of nothing."

This is just lying.  

Demonizing Science

Those whose science disagrees with us are shills for industry :
Proponents of the eat-less-salt campaign tend to deal with this contradictory evidence by implying that anyone raising it is a shill for the food industry and doesn’t care about saving lives. An N.I.H. administrator told me back in 1998 that to publicly question the science on salt was to play into the hands of the industry. “As long as there are things in the media that say the salt controversy continues,” he said, “they win.”
When several agencies, including the Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration, held a hearing last November to discuss how to go about getting Americans to eat less salt (as opposed to whether or not we should eat less salt), these proponents argued that the latest reports suggesting damage from lower-salt diets should simply be ignored.

Gotta love the Huxley quote:

 “My business,” he wrote, “is to teach my aspirations to conform themselves to fact, not to try and make facts harmonize with my aspirations.”

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Will Obama meltdown?

I'm beginning to think that there is a distinct possibility that Obama completely loses it at some point in this campaign.  I wouldn't put it as likely, but definitely possible.  Why?  He's a dishonest, thin-skinned, immature, boastful, narcissistic ego-maniac with a track record of failure and incompetence who is facing the first real opposition of his life after getting a free ride to the White House. Some news lately increased the odds that he loses it at some point.  I'm guessing around the time he debates Romney.

The other day BO boasted to Jewish leaders that he knew more about Judaism than any president ever.  Who says stuff like that?!  It's the kind of empty, foolish, puffed up boast we expect of a little boy.  But it is standard Obama boasting:
"I think I'm a better speech writer than my speech writers," he reportedly told an aide in 2008. "I know more about policies on any particular issue than my policy directors. And I'll tell you right now that I'm . . . a better political director than my political director.
Boasting like this demonstrates the kind of immaturity one would expect from a young teen who thinks it cool to give his opponent the finger on the sly to the delight of his fans.  It fits the same pattern as a president who inserts himself in the official biographies of lots of other presidents. 

I'm not a psychologist, psychiatrist or even a psychic, but I think all the boasting covers up a deep insecurity of a man who knows he's not very bright and has never done much.  It's a pretty safe bet Barack's academic record is poor.  As boastful as he is, if he'd done anything worthwhile in school, he'd have bragged about it already.  Instead, he's made sure his records are sealed up tight.  Bill Clinton nailed it when he said Obama is incompetent.  As Bret Stephens wrote last year:
Then there is Mr. Obama as political tactician. He makes predictions that prove false. He makes promises he cannot honor. He raises expectations he cannot meet. He reneges on commitments made in private. He surrenders positions staked in public. He is absent from issues in which he has a duty to be involved. He is overbearing when he ought to be absent.
For four years he's blamed Bush and cried about racism, while producing a record of staggering ineptitude.  The only achievements are his record for numerous lavish vacations and the regularity of his golf outings.  But this is what we should have expected from a man who thought himself worthy of an autobiography before he'd ever done anything, was unable to write it, used a ghost writer, and palmed off a work of fiction populated by imaginary characters.  Obama is Gertrude Stein's Oakland.  There's no there there.

However, incompetence, immaturity and a massive ego don't have to result in a meltdown.  Neither does the fact that he's never been held accountable in the past.  To increase the odds of him losing it at some point, add his thin skin and the Romney crucible.  His thin skin is obvious.  In addition to his constant blame-shifting, we can see that the president seems incapable of laughing at himself.  His annual performances for the press dinner have lacked the self-deprecating humor we typically see from presidents.  He simply isn't comfortable enough in his own skin. 

Add the crucible of accountability.   For the first time ever, Obama has had a job that comes with expectations and accountability.  And despite the wet kisses the news media has given him for the last 6 years (and will undoubtedly deliver throughout the election season), he's finally going to get a legitimate accounting.  Mitt Romney gave strong indications this week that he is going to force Barack to face his record and take responsibility for it on a daily basis until November.  Romney appears to be an adept counter-puncher with the stomach to keep fighting in what will likely be an ugly, nasty campaign.  I suspect it is going to be a new and painful experience for Barack.  The pressure is going to be heavy and relentless.  Some pundits already see signs of panic. It will only get worse.  Especially if the president trails in the polls throughout the summer and fall.

My best guess is that if the gaffe-prone president loses it, it will come during a debate with Romney.  A compliant news media and the cocoon created by White House aides may well insulate Obama from much of the sting as Mitt lays out the record for the voters.  But there won't be any place to hide when the lights come on and millions tune in.  And I suspect that the GOP challenger will press home his case thoroughly and doggedly.  Facile efforts to wave away the record by blaming others won't work.  It wouldn't surprise me to see a moment where BO will be forced to confront the staggering reality of his ineptitude in the starkest terms with nowhere to run or hide and no one to cover for him while the whole world watches.  And when that moment comes, I wouldn't be at all surprised if he snarled, snapped and lashed out in his pain.

Of course, a more likely scenario would be that the 'meltdown' consists of his campaign resorting to ever more desperate attacks on the challenger during the final days.  But that wouldn't be as riveting to watch.

Friday, June 1, 2012

We have met the sucker and he is us.

With apologies to Pogo.

Alan Blinder  wrote in the Wall Street Journal last week:

Right now, the U.S. government can borrow for 10 years at under 2% per annum. At these super-low interest rates, you don't have to be a genius to find many public infrastructure projects with strongly positive net present values. Borrowing to make such investments will enhance long-run growth, not retard it. And I can't, for the life of me, understand why we are not doing more of it.
Similar sentiments have been expressed recently by other credentialed luminaries in the economic firmament.  Perhaps I can explain to the former vice chair of the Federal Reserve, in terms even he can understand, why it would be brain dead stupid to pursue his idea.  Of course, given that the idiotic cash-for-clunkers disaster was his brain child, I'm not sure my powers of explication are up to the task.

Let's start with the end in mind and proceed.  Blinder's argument simply boils down to Pogo's admonition as edited by me -- we have met the sucker and he is us.  He says that the US government should borrow lots more money because we have found a sucker willing to lend to us at really low rates.  The problem with that is the identity of the sucker.  He's the US government.

As Blinder knows full well, the Fed is bidding down interest rates on Treasury debt by bidding on it with massive quantities of printed money.  That is, not money that has been raised by taxes and not money that has been borrowed from actual lenders, but rather money simply created from thin air by strokes on a computer keyboard.  In the old days, it would have been wheelbarrows full of printed green paper.  Currently, most of the debt sold by the Treasury is being purchased by the Federal Reserve.  The government is lending to itself.  In essence, it is paying its bills by simply printing more and more new dollars.  The fact that Ben Bernanke has chosen to bid rates under 2% has no particular significance.  He could just as easily bid them down to zero, if he chose.  Doing so would clue in more people that the current market is a scam, so he doesn't.  But he could.  He simply prints all the money that he needs to buy up all the debt the Treasury cannot sell.

Blinder knows this.  He has to.  So why does he think it is such a great idea for the govt to spend lots and lots of monopoly money?  He knows that such a policy will produce very high inflation.  He knows that if the US ever gets back to a normal market for Treasury debt, all that added debt will require extremely high interest rates to find genuine buyers.

I can only think that he is trying to fool the American public with an argument he knows is utter crap.  Either that, or he's an idiot.

UPDATE -- reading this post this morning, I think I could have made the point a little more clearly by simply saying this -- the government isn't actually borrowing money at these low rates.  It can't. That's why the Fed has to print money to take care of the increasing Treasury debt. 

United Nations

How stupid does one have to be to regard the UN as a serious institution?  Add one more miserable joke to the record -- Robert Mugabe as UN ambassador:

Feckless UN bureaucrats have tried to ban Dante and give Mt. Rushmore back to the Native Americans. Now comes news that serial human rights violator and war criminal Robert Mugabe has been appointed as an International Envoy for Tourism. The Guardian reports this development with wry understatement:
Improbable as it seems, the man widely accused of ethnic cleansing, rigging elections, terrorising opposition, controlling media and presiding over a collapsed economy has been endorsed as a champion of efforts to boost global holidaymaking.
Improbable, perhaps, only to those unacquainted with the United Nations.

BO shuns Poles then insults them

Obama's stupid "Polish death camps" remark has gotten some attention.  What hasn't gotten as much attention is that Obama refused the request of Polish officials that Lech Welesa receive the Medal of Freedom on behalf of Jan Karski.  The reason?  Welesa is 'too political'.

At the same ceremony, Obama gave a Medal of Freedom to a Socialist.:

Administration officials told the Journal that Walesa is too “political.” A man who was arrested by Soviet officials for dissenting against the government for being “political” is being shunned by the United States of America for the same reason 30 years later.

Meanwhile, one of the recipients of the Medal was Dolores Huerta, the honorary chair of the Democratic Socialists of America. So socialist politics are acceptable, but not the politics of a man who stood up and fought socialism.