Saturday, June 13, 2009

Fool In Chief

On Friday, President Obama had this to say about the election in Iran:

We are excited to see what appears to be a robust debate taking place in Iran. Whoever ends up winning the election in Iran, the fact there has been a robust debate hopefully will advance our ability to engage them in new ways.

A day later, it seems clear that the election was fraudulent. U.S. officials have said as much off-the-record. They find it "not credible" that Mousavi would have lost the balloting in his hometown or that a third candidate, Mehdi Karoubi, would have received less than 1 percent of the total vote.

So Obama has praised an election that appears to have been a travesty. It's difficult to see how either Iran's rulers or its dissidents can view him as other than a fool -- usefully so in the case of the rulers; criminally so in the case of the dissidents.

I Feel Like I Went To Sleep In One Country, And Woke Up In Another

What A Real Protest Looks Like

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According to the comments, they’re chanting “Death to this liar government.” Works for me!

ANOTHER UPDATE: Some Tehran street photos on Flickr, via reader Nathan Branch.

Nothing left to lose.

Freaking Flint's Faux Forest

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I don’t know, the meadows line is certainly terrific, but I liked: “Decline is a fact of life in Flint. Resisting it is like resisting gravity.”

That line just absolutely captures the ‘can do’ spirit which exemplifies the American spirit - well, the heavily unionized and “what will the government do for us” version of it, not that ‘old-fashioned’ kind which built Flint in the first place…

Hope and change!

If Only That D*mn W Would Stop Provoking The NorKorComs ... O Wait ...

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North Korea declared it would turn its plutonium stocks into weapons material and threatened military action against the US and its allies after the UN security council imposed new sanctions to punish Pyongyang for last month's underground nuclear test.

The country's foreign ministry today acknowledged for the first time that North Korea was developing a uranium enrichment programme and said it would be "impossible" to abandon its nuclear ambitions.

In a defiant statement, it said that "the whole amount of the newly extracted plutonium [in the country] will be weaponised" and that "more than one-third of the spent fuel rods has been reprocessed to date".

And a big shout out to BJ for stocking them up with plutonium!

Jim Rogers: The Worst Is Yet To Come

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Another WTWT.

The Greenspan Letters

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The video equivalent of RTWT is WTWT. Fascinating.

Swirling Around The Drain

The long-running Delphi bankruptcy is now entangled with the saga of GM. This week the Delphi bankruptcy provided a useful contrast to the trampling of creditors' rights in the GM and Chrysyler restructuring. A bankruptcy judge with the Dickensian name of Robert Drain pricks the balloon sent up by the government in the Delphi bankruptcy:

U.S. bankruptcy court Wednesday sided with a group of Delphi Corp. lenders who said a government-led plan to sell the auto-parts maker's operations to a private-equity fund trampled on their rights.

Judge Robert Drain ordered Delphi to hold an auction and allow bids to challenge the government-brokered sale to Platinum Equity. "What's so special about Platinum?" asked Judge Drain. "They're just guys in suits. Why can't the other guys in suits just pay more?"

A Familiar Ring

Ahmadinejad is believed to have won the second round because of his populist views, specially those regarding the poor and their economic status.

His reelection is largely believed to be the result of his anti-corruption agenda, his fight for justice, his courage in the international arena and Iran's advancement in different scientific fields, including the nuclear technology, during his first term in office.

That description has, somehow, a familiar ring.

The O Duce Way

Walpin, who by statute is supposed to be independent of White House control, ran afoul of Obama because he investigated a charity operated by former pro basketball player Kevin Johnson, a prominent Obama supporter.
Apparently in retaliation for having put the heat on an Obama supporter, the President had Norman Eisen, a Special Counsel to the President, telephone Walpin and demand that he resign within an hour. Walpin, pointing out that he is not a political appointee and does not serve at the President's pleasure, declined to do so. So Obama fired him. By statute, Obama is required to give Congress 30 days written notice of his intention to fire an inspector general and set forth his reasons for doing so. Obama failed to comply with that aspect of the statute, merely saying that Walpin no longer has the President's "fullest confidence." That would be sufficient reason to replace a political appointee, but not to fire an inspector general.

The Answer Would Be Yes

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Now, all of a sudden, Mrs. Mousavi becomes a national political figure.   Other women have emerged from time to time to play public roles in political melodramas, but nothing like this has happened in the history of the Islamic Republic.  The very fact of her political role is explosive.  In many ways, it threatens the foundations of the system, for if women are granted equality with men (and this is one very clear message of the Mousavi campaign, it is demonstrated by her presence, by the words she uses, and by the enthusiasm she has inspired), the whole structure of the Khomeinist regime can be called into doubt.

Everybody in Iran recognizes this.  The mystery is why she has been permitted to do it.

Is this some diabolical trick, to once again lure the dissidents into the streets so that they can be crushed yet again by a crafty, murderous regime?

COTD: Who Counts The Votes

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A long forgotten saying from my student days — it does not matter who votes; what matters is who counts the votes.

Wonder if ACORN has the contract for counting votes in the Iranian election? They surely seem to have the contract for the next US election.

So And Not So

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Conservatives are often far less sophisticated in their argumentation and more simple-minded in their thinking than the Left. This has made many conservatives child-like in their sincerity, something which people in the arts never cease to parody. No subtlety, they say; people living in a world of black and white. The kind of people who say grace at a Burger King. But sometimes that kind of clarity is necessary. After decades of listening to the Left I have yet to hear them say the word “freedom” with sincerity. It has always been spelled P-O-W-E-R. Consequently their servings of freedom come in the form of huge, eyeless institutional bureaucracies; a vast list of do’s and don’ts; and the proliferation of a commissariate. I know it isn’t ‘cool’ to listen to people who believe things because the Bible told them so; but for my part that’s infinitely cooler than listening to people so practiced in sophistry that their Bible tells them so and not so at one and the same time.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Closing Bell

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“Crony capitalism” is a term often applied to foreign nations where government interference circumvents market forces. The practice is widely associated with tin-pot dictators and second-rate economies. In such a system, support for the ruling regime is the best and only path to economic success. Who you know supersedes what you know, and favoritism trumps the rule of law. Unfortunately, this week's events demonstrate that the phrase now more aptly describes our own country.

On Monday, the Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal from Chrysler's secured creditors based on the government's argument that the needs of other stakeholders outweighed those of a few creditors. In this case, the Administration concluded the interests of the United Auto Workers outweighed the interests of the Indiana teachers and firemen whose pension fund sued to block the restructuring. Given the enormous financial support that the UAW poured into the Obama campaign, such partiality is hardly surprising.

Of Rubes And Throats: The It's OK Now To Be A Muslim Edition

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Fundamental right to marry that includes same-sex couples? Nonsense under the narrowest approach to such rights, as articulated by Chief Justice Rehnquist in Washington v. Glucksberg, who wrote that in evaluating a fundamental-rights claim a federal court must follow tradition and tradition is to be understood as narrowly as possible.

The Loving analogy? Rejected. Strict scrutiny for laws discriminating against gays and lesbians? Unprecedented. Sex discrimination? Meritless. Romer v. Evans? That dealt with a comprehensive denial of rights, unlike DOMA. Lawrence v. Texas? That was a privacy case.

Ninth Amendment rights? No such thing.

Essentially, the Obama Administration’s justice department filed a brief that attempts to gut practically every constitutional gay rights argument you can think of. 

the DoJ went for the throats of gay marriage advocates.

I really do wonder why.

Who Would The Chinese Go After?

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That Obama guy really knows what he’s doing! Yessir – we’re in good hands. And he’s sure making our friends in the world like us more than when that evil Bush was in the White House. Umm hmm:

The British Government responded with ill-disguised fury tonight to the news that four Chinese Uighurs freed from Guantanamo Bay had been flown for resettlement on the Atlantic tourist paradise of Bermuda.

In a highly unusual move, a senior US official said Washington opted to keep details of the deal from London until the last minute to enable Britain to deny all knowledge of the deal and thus avoid China’s anger, says the BBC’s Washington correspondent Kim Ghattas.

The official said they expected London to be upset but added he felt the deal was made on solid ground, in direct talks with the Bermuda government, who accepted the men as part of guest worker programme.

Yeah — no arrogance there, huh? Kind of like the UK doing the same thing on Puerto Rico.

The Bite Of The Toothless

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China warned about the dangers
involved in inspecting North Korean cargo under United Nations
Security Council sanctions approved yesterday, saying countries
intercepting vessels should avoid armed action.

“Under no circumstance should there be the use of force or
the threat of use of force” in implementing the sanctions in
Resolution 1874, Chinese Ambassador Zhang Yesui said in New
York. Inspecting vessels carrying North Korean cargo is
“complicated” and “sensitive,” he said.

U.S. Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice said at a White House
briefing that the sanctions have “teeth that will bite.” She
pointed out that the resolution doesn’t authorize the use of
military force.

America Dozing

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The government looking at expanding a pioneering scheme in Flint, one of the poorest US cities, which involves razing entire districts and returning the land to nature.

Local politicians believe the city must contract by as much as 40 per cent, concentrating the dwindling population and local services into a more viable area.

The radical experiment is the brainchild of Dan Kildee, treasurer of Genesee County, which includes Flint.

Having outlined his strategy to Barack Obama during the election campaign, Mr Kildee has now been approached by the US government and a group of charities who want him to apply what he has learnt to the rest of the country.

Embracing The Guilty

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I’m also told that a number of inspectors general around the government have been expressing concerns to Congress recently about threats to their independence. . . . Bottom line: The AmeriCorps IG accuses prominent Obama supporter of misusing AmeriCorps grant money. Prominent Obama supporter has to pay back more than $400,000 of that grant money. Obama fires AmeriCorps IG.

Under a Republican President, this would be a huge scandal.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

The Car Accident

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"The American ambassadors used to be very outspoken about their opinions," said Medet Sadyrkulov, a former head of Mr. Bakiyev's administration. "Now they have gone quiet."

The U.S. ambassador, Tatiana C. Gfoeller, declined to be interviewed for this article. State Department officials in Washington likewise declined to comment.

Days after Mr. Sadyrkulov shared his views in an interview with The Wall Street Journal in March, his body was found in his burned-out car outside Bishkek. Colleagues call his death a political killing. The government says he died in a car accident.

In the interview, he said he quit his job in the presidential administration largely because he worried that Mr. Bakiyev was taking the country too close to the Kremlin.

Mr. Bakiyev then flew to Moscow, where the deal was signed, and the Kyrgyz president announced at a Kremlin press conference that he was kicking the American forces out of the country. U.S. officials were stunned.

It Will Be Good For You This Time

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OIL PRICES SURGE, Media Yawns. If gas gets up to five dollars a gallon again, we’ll get stories on how that’s good because it forces us to conserve.

Stopped Clock Watch: Jon Stewart Edition

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Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Blown Narrative Watch

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That kind of blows the narrative. Plus, The Mudville Gazette notes some media-stretching in an effort to bail out Janet Napolitano’s deranged-vet claims.

But did he like anybody? Holocaust Museum Killer “Despised JEWS-NEOCONS-BILL O’REILLY.” Funny, O’Reilly doesn’t look neoish.

The Joke's On Us: Mohammed The "Cab Driver" Is Laughing Anyway

A Washington Post blog noted this at the time, but offered only a few quotes. The Obama campaign posted the larger exchange at YouTube. Skip ahead to about 1:55, where Obama picks up this argument.

He brings up a GOP Convention line about Miranda warnings ... but simply responds with a theatrical smirk.

From there, he proceeds to mock the federal government for failing to catch Bin Laden (not that that's on Obama's front burner anymore), and then discusses the need for terrorist detainees to be allowed to file habeas petitions in federal courts. The Miranda issue, however, is simply laughed aside, as if it was preposterous to even raise the subject.

And two months after his Inauguration, President Obama reiterated, "Now, do these folks deserve miranda rights? Do they deserve to be treated like a shoplifter down the block? Of course not."

So much for the smirk and sarcasm. I guess the joke's on us.

Wrong Day

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I quite agree, but this is the wrong day for a lecture, champ.

I am shocked and saddened by today’s shooting at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. This outrageous act reminds us that we must remain vigilant against anti-Semitism and prejudice in all its forms. No American institution is more important to this effort than the Holocaust Museum, and no act of violence will diminish our determination to honor those who were lost by building a more peaceful and tolerant world.

Today, we have lost a courageous security guard who stood watch at this place of solemn remembrance. My thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends in this painful time.

“Remaining vigilant” evidently doesn’t include periodically checking your church bulletin for Hamas screeds or challenging the right of Holocaust-deniers who pine publicly for Israel to be wiped off the map to possess nuclear power.


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“Anyone who is going to run for president has to be weird,” says Larry Sabato of the University of Virginia.

I think there’s something to this, and here’s an excerpt from a post on the subject that I made back in September of 2001:

But if Kaus is right, our system actually selects for people who love the job. And since, as most people (perhaps even Kaus) would agree, being President is a job no sane person could really love for eight years then what does that say about our Presidential selection system? Is it selecting for kooks? Certainly a lot of our Presidents have been, er, mentally less than admirable: Kennedy, with his risk-taking and narcissism, LBJ with his megalomania, bullying and, well, LBJ-ness, Nixon with his paranoia, depression and obsessive-compulsiveness, Clinton with his narcissism, sexual compulsiveness, and compulsive lying.

Just another angle on: Anyone smart enough to be President is smart enough not to be President.

Any more questions about the (in)sanity of the electorate for not figuring this out? Yes that's right, President's ARE representative after all.

Just Watch

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Modern China cares about as much about “anthropogenic global warming” as Chairman Mao did about providing his population with five-course steak dinners. AGW’s only use, as far as the Chinese are concerned, is as an ingenious device to suck up money and power from the gullible west.

There is the truth that “must not be spoken”. That is the bottom line and anyone who has followed this “debate” and hasn’t been able to discern precisely what Delingpole states as the truth hasn’t been paying attention.

China is not, let me repeat that - not - going to jeopardize its economic growth over something it flat doesn’t believe to be a problem. But it will seize every opportunity to “negotiate” free money and technology from the west - if we’ll pay for it, they’ll take it.

And the naive bunch we have running the show now, despite unheard of deficit spending, are more than willing to do precisely that - just watch.

COTD: Give It An F

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Let’s see, Wretchard: this new policy — is it part of the hope or part of the change?

Before Jamie Gorelick became a multi-millionaire by overseeing the destruction of Fannie Mae she was in the Clinton Justice Department, where she wrote the so-called “firewall” preventing the FBI from talking to the CIA. That lead ultimately to one intelligence agency NOT telling the other they suspected something was up with Saudis taking flight training. That was before 9/11.

Now the Gorelick wall has apparently been turned inside out: the CIA must act like the FBI before taking prisoners or asking them questions.

The circus must envy the way this administration has hired so many clowns.

I think LOTM has it right: fewer live prisoners. That means less actionable intelligence and a lot of gritted teeth on the part of JAG lawyers. F

What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

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Asked if the Obama administration had ordered that Miranda rights be read to certain detainees, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said, “I have no reason to disbelieve a member of Congress. But I don’t know any of the circumstances that are involved around it.” But Gibbs acknowledged that it wouldn’t be a surprise to find out that it was happening.

This is the logical conclusion to Obama administration’s approach to combating terrorism. Actually scratch that. America is no longer fighting terrorists, just investigating alleged crimes. The US only has a crime problem, nothing more. If that is so, it would be interesting to know whether we have actually ‘won’ the war against terrorists or whether there never ought to have been a war in the first place. The other question is whether these ’suspects’ are now entitled to pro bono representation? Well why not? In for a dime, in for a dollar.

What could possibly go wrong?

The Chaos This Time

German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s rebuke last week of central bank policies, including the loose money strategy of the U.S. Federal Reserve, didn’t get very much play in the American media, perhaps because to editors and producers it was just another moment in the theoretical debate over whether we should be worrying more about inflation or deflation and unemployment.

People took more notice in Europe, however, where media outlets used words like “astonishing” to characterize her speech. There, perhaps, they understand more clearly that Germany, scarred by the hyperinflation of the Weimar years which helped lead to chaos and then Hitler’s political ascent, has charted a far more conservative, tight-fisted post-World War II fiscal policy than most developed nations.

In the 1970s, inflation turned the chronology of the American dream on its head and made our lives less predictable and more chaotic.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Making Life "Better"

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1. You cannot bring about prosperity by discouraging thrift.
2. You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong
3. You cannot help the poor man by destroying the rich.
4. You cannot further the brotherhood of man by inciting class hatred.
5. You cannot build character and courage by taking away man’s initiative and independence.
6. You cannot help small men by tearing down big men.
7. You cannot lift the wage earner by pulling down the wage payer.
8. You cannot keep out of trouble by spending more than your income.
9. You cannot establish security on borrowed money.
10 You cannot help men permanently by doing for them what they will not do for themselves.

Those all seem pretty self evident don’t they? Yet we seem to be engaged, at very high levels of government, in going against every one of them and thinking (at least among those pushing the agenda) we can succeed in making life better.

Not Laughing

It’s likely a testament to the world’s overall economic health that at least for now, foreigners and Americans alike can laugh at the musings of a Treasury secretary who’s so clearly not up to the job. The problem here is that the dollar remains the most important price in the world, and its decline is no laughing matter. Tim Geithner surely ignores its falling value to the detriment of the world economy, and if his indifference continues, we’ll soon enough not be laughing.

Merkel's Fed Up

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“Social Democrats get hammered for their belief that the
voter honors throwing taxpayer money at failing corporations,”
Wilfried Prewo told me by e-mail. He is chief executive of the
Hannover Chamber of Industry and Commerce, which represents an
area of Germany that includes Volkswagen’s home.

Days before the vote, German Chancellor Angela Merkel
complained publicly that the European Central Bank had bowed to
international pressure to buy up assets, mimicking the U.S. She
disapproves of the Federal Reserve’s dumping of cash into the
global economy.

A second recession, or a continuation of the current one,
is inevitable as the Fed corrects for its past -- especially if
the U.S. continues to abuse the dollar, at home or abroad, for
political purposes.

What Merkel was trying to get at was that monetary policy
should be for money, not for the improvement of gross domestic
product. That’s a point that must be reckoned with before the
next “morning in America.”

Did I Forget To Mention The Onnumeracy?

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Monday, June 08, 2009

Regime Uncertainty Update (Part 6,794,397)

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Let’s pretend for a moment that, god forbid, you break your arm. And somehow you end up with a team of doctors all trained at Obama University. As you lie there on the table in the ER, one doctor treats your arm by banging on the unbroken one with a ball-peen hammer. The second doctor takes the unusual course of setting your hair on fire. And the third one uses leaches.

Undeterred by your arm’s stubborn refusal to set, soon the doctors start blaming one another. And even though all of them are doing nothing but compounding your injury, none will take any blame. In fact, the louder you scream, the harder they go to work on you.

That, apparently, is what’s going on in the West Wing these days. Our economy is being managed by Dr. Howard, Dr. Fine, and Dr. Howard.

Add up all the headlines and here’s what you have: The certainty that the government will screw up the markets, and uncertainty as to what new rules the markets will work under. Everyone is too scared to move

Sunday, June 07, 2009


However, the Hadley Centre's real-world plot of radiosonde temperature observations shown below does not show the projected CO2 induced global warming hot-spot at all. The predicted hot-spot is entirely absent from the observational record.
The mystery of the missing hot spot is solved by the Miskolczi greenhouse effect theory and confirmed by the declining relative humidity, especially at the altitude of the predicted hot spot. The declining relative humidity reduces the temperature compared to the model projections so there is no hot spot. The GCM assumption of constant relative humidity is wrong and is yet another proof that the climate predictions of the IPCC are wrong.

Dead Yet Again

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The Counterrevolution Will Finally Come When The OSinging Starts

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Venezuela's Hugo Chavez on Saturday cancelled the broadcast of his promised show, presidential sources told AFP, thus interrupting a four-day marathon of himself talking, singing, and haranguing detractors.

Chavez had vowed a Thursday-to-Sunday broadcast of his weekly radio and TV program "Alo Presidente" ("Hello President") to mark the show's 10-year anniversary.

Normally the show runs for several hours on Sundays, but Chavez said he wanted a special extended edition. "It will be in chapters, like a soap opera," Chavez, a former paratrooper who often breaks out into song on-air, said late Monday.

Chavez held broadcast talkathons lasting some six hours each on Thursday and Friday.

One can only hope anyway...

FU: The Corporatist State

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The government effectively owns General Motors and controls Chrysler, and the president is deciding what kind of cars they can make. Uncle Sam owns majority stakes in American International Group, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and controls large chunks of the banking industry. Also, President Obama
wants government to take over the business of student loans.
And yet, for conservatives to suggest in any way, shape or form that there's something "socialistic" about any of this is the cause of knee-slapping hilarity

Personally, I think socialism is the wrong word for all of this. "Corporatism" — the economic doctrine of fascism — fits better. Under corporatism, all the big players in the economy — big business, unions, interest groups — sit around the table with government at the head, hashing out what they think is best for everyone to the detriment of consumers, markets and entrepreneurs. But, take it from me, liberals are far more open to the argument that they're "crypto-socialists."

And Even If It Weren't A Swindle, It Would Be Innumerate

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By comparison, San Francisco's local railway is less energy-efficient than Boston's. But it turns out to be rather greener, as only 49 percent of the electricity is derived from fossils.

The paper points out that the "tailpipe" quotient does not include emissions that come from building transport infrastructure -- railways, airport terminals, roads and so on -- nor the emissions that come from maintaining this infrastructure over its operational lifetime.

These often-unacknowledged factors add substantially to the global-warming burden.

In fact, they add 63 percent to the "tailpipe" emissions of a car, 31 percent to those of a plane, and 55 percent to those of a train.

And another big variable that may be overlooked in green thinking is seat occupancy.

A saloon (sedan) car or even an 4x4 that is fully occupied may be responsible for less greenhouse gas per kilometer travelled per person than a suburban train that is a quarter full, the researchers calculate.

Umm, Maybe That's Because "Kick-Starting" Is A Dumb Idea?

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NEW YORK (AP) - The Federal Reserve announced a $1.2 trillion plan three months ago designed to push down mortgage rates and breathe life into the housing market.

But this and other big government spending programs are turning out to have the opposite effect. Rates for mortgages and U.S. Treasury debt are now marching higher as nervous bond investors fret about a resurgence of inflation.

That's the Catch-22 threatening to make an awful housing market potentially worse and keep the economy stuck in a funk. Kick-starting the economy requires higher spending, but rising rates mean fewer Americans will be able to refinance their home loans. And some potential buyers will be shut out of the market by higher monthly payments they won't be able to afford.

To understand how this is all connected, you have to think like a bond trader. Inflation is their enemy because it means the purchasing power of the dollars they receive when bonds eventually are paid off will be diminished.