Saturday, July 12, 2008

The New Failure, Same As The Old Failures

Want a worst case scenario? The government takes over Fannie and Freddie. The
immense increase in the national debt causes the bond rating agencies to cut
their rating of Treasury securities from their traditional AAA. Along with other
economic problems (whether its mostly whining
or not), this spooks investors, especially foreign investors. Foreigners abandon
the dollar for the euro, dumping treasuries. The collapse of foreign investment
in Treasuries makes our massive current account deficit unsustainable.

Washington failed on a bipartisan basis to address the problems at Fannie and
Freddie. Why didn;t they do something? Because Fannie and Freddie bribed them
and because they’re petrified of being painted as anti-consumer, as even the
Times finally noticed:

The companies, Wall Street, mortgage bankers, real estate agents and
Washington lawmakers have built up an unusual and mutually beneficial
co-dependency, helped along by robust lobbying efforts and campaign

Idiot Windbags Of Corruption

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Much of the dissatisfaction with Congress is due to its unwillingness to do
anything about the soaring price of gasoline. "Right now, our strategy on gas
prices is 'Drive small cars and wait for the wind,'•" a Democratic congressional
aide told The Hill newspaper.

"So why are the Republicans running scared, and why aren't they going after
the 'new Democratic Congress' hammer and tongs?" wondered Web logger Glenn
Reynolds at Instapundit. "Beats me. Because they're idiots, I guess."

I disagree. Some Republicans in Congress are crooks, and many are cowards.
But few are idiots. For idiocy, you have to look to the campaign of Sen. John

Ouch. But, yeah.

News And Political Poverty

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This paper produces a wide variety of niche products. The figure that they
reach about 80% of their region with one of their products. The products are
focused on parenting, retirees, entertainment, etc, as well as online and print
versions of the daily paper. They are making money.

One of the explanations for the demise of the print edition of the
traditional newspaper that they gave him was the change in the demographics of
the community. They told him that increasingly people move there, spend a few
years, and move elsewhere. They don’t move into town and take up an intimate
concern for the community. They find that the percentage of the local population
that is engaged in local issues is shrinking, and therefore the numbers of
people who are interested in a newspaper is shrinking. As a result, the problems
of local newspapers are the connected to the problems of local communities. May
explain why the quality of people who run for local public office is so

Zero Time

At 140 pounds, the American-made, $7450 Zero X weighs in about 100 pounds
lighter than a typical 250 cc dirt bike. The weight savings come from the green
wheelie machine’s diminutive size and 6061-T6 aluminum frame, which tips the
scales at a feathery 18 pounds.

those rails sits the easily removable, 40-pound, lithium-manganese spinal
battery pack. “That’s our secret sauce,” Zero’s Saiki says of the power source,
which he says can recharge in 2 hours for 2 hours of driving or a 40-mile range,
depending on conditions. The unit is fully recyclable and can be swapped for
another one in a mere 30 seconds.
It might be the future of on-road riding, too. Zero gave us an exclusive first
look at their new 2009 street-legal Supermoto bike. The Supermoto will have a
larger 3 kwh battery for a range of 60 miles and a top speed of 65 mph. Zero is
also planning a commuter bike for the future. We can’t wait to try either one of
those clean machines.

Out Of Oil? Really?

This chart by the Institute for Energy Research shows graphically how America's shale oil reserves compare to other countries' petroleum reserves. Click to enlarge:

Can shale oil be developed economically? At today's prices, of course. A few years ago it was estimated that shale oil development would be competitive at around $40 a barrel. That figure may have risen a bit, but with world oil prices over $140 a barrel, shale oil development is a no-brainer.

Republicans in Congress like Utah's Orrin Hatch have been pushing for shale oil development for years. But, like drilling in the outer continental shelf and in ANWR, shale oil development is being blocked by Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid and the Democrats in Congress. The future of America's economy is at risk as a result.

Campaign Econ 101

Consider what happened this week. While speaking with the Washington Times, Gramm said that the country was not in a true
recession but a "mental recession." He also said, "We have sort of become a
nation of whiners" and "You just hear this constant whining, complaining about a
loss of competitiveness, America in decline."

Gramm was right about the recession and stood by his recession comments on
Thursday. A recession is two consecutive quarters in which the economy shrinks,
and last quarter it grew. But no matter. Voters feel they are in a recession,
and so they are, at least according to Campaign Econ.

The way to strengthen the economy right now is to elect leaders who dare to talk about problems in precise and even technical terms -- and then act on them. McCain has that capacity, but only if he can transcend Campaign Econ.

Friday, July 11, 2008

The Not So Big Melt

Antarctic sea ice extent is actually at the highest levels observed since we
started watching it via satellite around 1979.  Ice may be shrinking around
the Peninsula, but is net growing over the whole continent

We have no clue how ice shelves behave over time spans longer than the 100
years we have watched them.  It may well be they go through long-term
natural growth and collapse cycles.


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But deep down inside, even the most credulous may be feeling an unease; because like Robert Mugabe’s government, those who print credits can print more of them for themselves, whether it is to fly to exotic locales to attend conferences or to serve themselves eight course meals at global summits on the Food Crisis. And the heretical thought might occur to us that we’re being had.

Today what passes for revolution is often just despotism tricked out as a
campaign to fight some supposedly great evil; for final victory against the
White Farmers, Hate Speech, Global Warming or something else. But suppose it
were really about money?
“I want to tell you about the FARC … They say that they want equality; they say
that they just want to make Colombia a better place. But that’s all a lie. It’s
a cover story and they hide behind it and they use it to justify their criminal
activity.” Say on Marc, but there are none so deaf as they who will not hear.

Obama Now Himself Under Bus -- Reaches Mars Orbit Insertion

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While the Obama campaign says that Obama speaks a little bit of Indonesian,
Obama himself admits that he isn’t bilingual.

“I know because I don’t speak a foreign language. It’s embarrassing!” he

So now Barack Obama has managed the impossible — he’s thrown himself
under his own bus!

And if Obama was speaking about education policy, he’d still be wrong. Most
school districts require a second language in high school, although they don’t
require it to be Spanish. Spanish wouldn’t help much in France or
Germany anyway.

To no one’s great surprise, Obama tried spinning his way out of his elitist,
snobby remarks by essentially lying about their context. He then contradicted
repeated assertions during the campaign that he spoke Spanish (he did an ad in
Spanish during the primaries). He’s flip-flopped on his own bilingual status and
called himself an embarrassment as a defense.

What a week!

The Weeds Of Change

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However, Obama’s direction of the state funds to one of his campaign workers
gives him additional responsibility to make sure that the funds got used
properly and that the work got performed, neither of which appears to be the
case at Englewood.   Besides a plywood gazebo, the only evidence of a
botanical garden is a large variety of wild weeds indigenous to Chicago.

Once again, one of the problems of constantly moving on to the next promotion
is that you never get to see the consequences and ramifications of past

For a man with such a thin track record, the number of failures is rather
shocking — but that’s not the most significant part of this story.  It’s
quite obvious that Obama has a pattern of talking about hope and
, and caring less about it when it doesn’t boost him
politically.  As soon as Englewood stopped being significant to his
electoral hopes, he turned his back on the neighborhood.  That speaks to
character more than competence.

Paradise Value Optimization

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In a dynamic marketplace characterized by rapid change and unexpected
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rumors they read on unreliable infidel blogs and websites like "F*cked
Insurgency" and "Jihad Deadpool."  With Vistas, you will learn the real
story -- of how we are attacking the competitive casualty gap with a
paradigm-changing tactical adaptive strategy focused on paradise value

 blog it

Mayor ODaley With Lipstick And A Che T-Shirt

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Change. Hope. Corruption.

Whiners, Etc.

Anyway, this is just another example of why I've always wanted Phil Gramm to
be president of the United States and why that can never, ever,

Because it's a peeve of mine, my ears always seem to be catching people
talking about how much we need straight talkers in this country who won't cave
to their handlers, won't spin, won't poll-test their views. And yet, whenever
somebody speaks honestly, down comes the thunder. I think this is a bipartisan
phenomenon, by the way. 

Anyway, I think Gramm's comments were politically dumb but substantially

Actually, to be more precise we're a nation of puerile Gramscian fascifists. If he would have been really honest and said that then there wouldn't have been the reaction there was since nobody would have had the foggiest notion of what he said.

Because it was so much to the point of course.

You Couldn't Tell It

Optimal tax theory pretty much hates capital gains taxes because they, as their
very name suggests, impede capital formation. Also, capital is much more
mobile than labor, which is why countries like Sweden focus their taxation on
incomes. In fact, when I look at the graph he posts, it seems to tell me a very
different story than it is telling him.

By 2007, capital gains revenues had nearly returned to their 2000 highs in real dollars, even though the indexes hadn't regained their previous (real and/or nominal) heights. When you consider that the capital gains revenues in 2000 were coming off nearly 20 years of uninterrupted growth, this in fact suggests that the capital gains tax raised revenues. Moreover, the inflection point is at the time of the cut to 15%, with revenues marching steadily upward thereafter.

Now, I'd be the last person to suggest that correlation is causation--I'm only
pointing out that if they didn't raise revenues, you couldn't prove it by this

Professionals Think Logistics

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This is the kind of information that policy makers usually get
before formulating policy.  We can rotate troops out of Iraq on
the kind of timetable Obama suggests, but we’d have to leave all of our heavy
equipment in Iraq.  Unless Obama plans some kind of nationwide garage sale,
that would be a rather large loss for the American military in materiel as well
as making our exit look more like Dunkirk.

Obviously, Obama didn’t have any awareness of logistics when he made this
proposal — and that’s the point.  His lack of experience, combined with a
hubris that he has consistently shown on the campaign trail, makes clear that he
is in way over his head at this point of his career.  He has no sense of
military policy at all, and got the biggest call of the war — the surge —
completely wrong.  Yet he insists that he’s ready to lead this nation’s
military during a time of war as Commander in Chief?

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Welcome To Chinafornia

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Cross over San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge, head north for half an hour, and you'll reach Mount Tamalpais State Park, home to redwood groves and, a little ways up, panoramic views of the bay. As it turns out, though, the park is also home to large amounts of pollution from Asia--dust, sulfur, trace metals--blowing in from across the Pacific. "We call it the persistent Asian plume," says Steven Cliff, an atmospheric scientist currently working with the California Air Resources Board. On some days, one-third of the state's background air pollution can be traced to Asia, and researchers are now looking into whether the plume could be disrupting cloud formation and rainfall in water-starved California.

And China, which is building coal plants at a shocking rate of two per week, is
now the world's largest source of greenhouse gases, emitting 14 percent more
carbon dioxide than the United States in 2007.


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Non-existant Yellowcake Finally Removed

July 9, 2008: In a secret operation, Canada completed the movement of 550 tons Iraqi uranium oxide, from Iraq to Canada. The Canadians will process the uranium oxide into fuel for nuclear power plants. The U.S. did most of the work to transport the 3,500 barrels of uranium oxide from Iraq, to Diego Garcia island in the Indian Ocean, and then, via a U.S. merchant ship, to Montreal, Canada.
The uranium oxide was what remained of Saddam's original 1980s nuclear
program, the one that was halted by an Israeli air raid in 1981, which destroyed
the Iraqi nuclear reactor. The uranium oxide has been in storage ever since, and
was checked by UN inspectors after the 1991 war. If further refined, the Iraqi
uranium oxide could produce enough weapons grade uranium for over 100 nuclear
Saddam never developed the engineering capability to build the plants to refine yellowcake into Uranium 238. He would have done so eventually, just as the Iranians are doing right now.
Move along now. Nothing to see here...

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Dangerous Ditherers

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Something had to be done about Iraq and our government was all for attacking
it too. So let’s not blame G.W. for the war.

And when things did go wrong in Iraq, and there were calls to pull out, Mr
Bush just followed his own counsel and doubled his bet with the

And he was right because Iraq is in a relatively better shape today than it
ever was and Al Qa'eda is a shadow of its former self in that country.

This is a man who has the courage of his convictions.

Let’s not forget how Europe does wars.

Usually we wait and wait until the enemy starts attacking, then we let them
win a bit, then we fight until we are tired, then we just call the US to come
over to clean our mess.

That is what happened in WWI, WWII, and the Balkans.

Bush is just showing us what a bunch of dangerous ditherers we are and we
hate him for it. Naturally.