Free Markets, Free People

Monthly Archives: June 2010


Dale’s Observations For 2010-06-28

RT @dmataconis @dahlhalla: Russian spies? Is this the '80s? | Lots of Russian officials wish it was. #

Ex-president Clinton seems to be arguing that the Navy should nuke the leaking Gulf oil well. http://bit.ly/9fNf68 #

Shorter WV SecState: We don't aim to do us no senator electin', 'cause…well…we just don't aim to, that's all. #

Compare & contrast Strom Thurmond's passing with that of Robert Byrd. Similar backgrounds, different media narratives. #

http://huff.to/ce4zdE Pelosi: "serious drawdown" in A-stan in 2011 via House's $ power. | Unless there's a serious drawdown of Dems in 2010. #

RT @mattklewis: Having gone to college in West Virginia… | That's interesting. What was your major: Minin', Strikin', or Feudin'? #

RT @markknoller: Senators expect Kagan to be more forthcoming than nominees she has criticized. | Yeah. Well, good luck with that. #

Look at it this way: We have every bit as much information about what kind of justice Kagan will be as we did about Obama as president. #

Thanks to everyone for all the birthday wishes. You've clogged my phone & email inbox. Appreciate it. #

http://bit.ly/bwWMPd Income, Spending, and Savings Grow in May. That's about the only good economic news for May. #

Turkey announces that it will ban some Israeli flights. If we eject Turkey from NATO now, we'll avoid a lot of drama. http://bit.ly/cEPOuS #

Supremes declare the Sarbanes-Oxley Audit Board unconstitutional, but Congress can structure a replacement. http://bit.ly/aVtv1j #

Apple's arrogant response to user complaints about their hands blocking iPhone4 antenna: Don't hold it that way. http://bit.ly/cB2jZf #

I'm so sick of hearing the Tea Party, et al., being described as the"far right". Echoing the Founders is now radical. http://bit.ly/c3GC5U #

This is what you call a blinding glimpse of the obvious: Hezbollah not interested in dialog with US. http://bit.ly/baTeB3 #

Robert Byrd, ex-klansman, segregationist, and conscience of the Senate, has gone to that great rally in the sky. http://bit.ly/9aH05b #

Once again, the Supreme Court upholds the second amendment. http://bit.ly/9MKJU0 #


Quote of the day – Iraq is a success edition

Seriously. President Obama thinks if we work really, really hard and do a great job, Afghanistan can be a success – just like Iraq!

And if you look at what’s happening in Iraq right now, we have met every deadline. By the way, there was a timetable in place, and we are – we have – by the end of August, will have removed all of our combat from Iraq. We will maintain a military presence there. We will maintain military-to-military cooperation. And we are providing them assistance, but we’re meeting this deadline.

And I think it is worth the extraordinary sacrifices that we are making – and when I say “we” – not just the United States, but all coalition members – to try to see a positive outcome in Afghanistan, as well.

Of course the "timetable" he’s touting was the one put in place by the SOFA agreement negotiated by the Bush administration.

But you have to admit it is kind of ironic to see the guy who, when a Senator, declared the war in Iraq a lost cause and derided the general he’s now putting in command in Afghanistan, using Iraq as an example of a “positive outcome” don’t you think?

~McQ


SCOTUS – all Americans have the right to keep and bear arms

In a rather interesting ruling which, unsurprisingly, split along ideological lines, the Supreme Court today made it clear that all Americans enjoy the full right and benefit of self-defense guaranteed by the 2nd Amendment.  Mary Katharine Ham notes part of the majority opinion written by Justice Samuel Alito:

Alito writes in part, “Self-defense is a basic right, recognized by many legal systems from ancient times to the present day, and in Heller, we held that individual self-defense is “the central component” of the Second Amendment right,” while allowing, as in Heller, for sensible gun ownership restrictions.

Alito went on to write:

We repeat those assurances here. Despite municipal respondents’ doomsday proclamations, incorporation does not imperil every law regulating firearms.

Of course, the crack left by that sentence will be fully exploited by municipalities and states, calling whatever they try to do "sensible gun ownership restrictions". But Alito makes it clear that the Bill of Rights, as incorporated under the Constitution, doesn’t mean that states have the right or authority to radically change the intent of the constitutional guarantees they provide citizens:

"The relationship between the Bill of Rights’ guarantees and the States must be governed by a single, neutral principle. It is far too late to exhume what Justice Brennan, writing for the Court 46 years ago, derided as “the notion that the Fourteenth Amendment applies to the States only a watered-down, subjective version of the individual guarantees of the Bill of Rights.”

Or, screw with this ruling at your own peril.

As mentioned, the court split 5-4.  Justice Stephen Breyer wrote the dissent:

He disagreed with the majority that it is a fundamental right, and said the court was restricting state and local efforts from designing gun control laws that fit their particular circumstances, and turning over all decisions to federal judges.

"Given the empirical and local value-laden nature of the questions that lie at the heart of the issue, why, in a nation whose constitution foresees democratic decision-making, is it so fundamental a matter as to require taking that power from the people?" Breyer wrote. "What is it here that the people did not know? What is it that a judge knows better?"

Well that’s a simple one, Justice Breyer – because rights aren’t something one votes on.  A right is something one either has or doesn’t.  What Breyer is suggesting is it should be up to a majority to “vote” to take away the rights guaranteed to all Americans by the Constitution.  In my ideological neck of the woods, that dog won’t hunt.

~McQ


Byrd dead at 92 – will WVA declare seat vacant now or on July 3?

That’s the question I’ve seen asked any number of times as I’ve read various pieces on Byrd’s death.

Of course is a sane world, the seat would be declared vacant now, since the moment he died was the moment the seat actually became vacant. But that’s not necessarily how it works in the insane world of party politics.

Here’s the deal:

State law dictates that had Byrd lived until July 3rd, the position would have been filled for the remaining two years and six months by a gubernatorial appointee. But because Byrd died just a week shy of the break point, the remainder of his term will be filled by an interim appointee until a snap election in November.

So, by law (a minor inconvenience, I’m sure), there should be a interim appointee to fill the seat until November when an election should take place to fill the seat on a permanent basis.

Or, a declaration of vacancy could be held off until July 3rd (5 days from now) and a replacement named by the governor to fill the remaining 2 years and 6 months of the term (and then have all the benefits of incumbency when running for reelection).

Now, I’m not saying the governor and Democratic party will play those sorts of politics with this. However, I am saying I wouldn’t be surprised if they did. Given the possibility of strong GOP gains in the Senate this November, the national party may ask the state party (i.e. the governor, etc.) to “do what it can” to keep that seat safe.

Oh, and I found this interesting as well:

“Byrd was born Cornelius Calvin Sale Jr. on Nov. 20, 1917, in North Wilkesboro, N.C. His mother died of the flu in 1918 when he was only 1. At the mother’s request, his father dispersed the family children among relatives. He was given to the custody of an aunt and uncle, Vlurma and Titus Byrd, who renamed him Robert Carlyle Byrd and raised him in southern West Virginia.”

I assume Mr Sale is now surrounded by his other kleales, cyclops and grand wizards reminiscing about the good old days when being a Democrat and a member of the KKK wasn’t a “bad” thing.

~McQ


BlogTalk Radio – 8pm (EST) Tonight

Call in number: (718) 664-9614

Yes, friends, it is a call-in show, so do call in.

Subject(s):

Afghanistan – McChrystal out, Petraeus in – now what?

Oil spill – oil washes up on Pensacola beach, Mississippi sees no one skimming oil off shore – who’s in charge on day 69?

Economy – unemployment numbers, housing sales, GDP numbers – we’re in a recovery?

UPDATE [Dale]: Sadly, some weird technical glitch at BlogTalkRadio prevented us from getting a podcast recorded tonight.  We’ll try again next week.


Meanwhile, back in the Gulf, chaos still reigns

If there is a unified and coordinated effort in the Gulf, few people have apparently witnessed it. You know the travails of Louisiana – skimmer barges shut down for fire extinguisher and life vest inspections. Barrier island construction shut down because a federal agency wants them moved 2 miles further out.

In Alabama, Gov. Bob Riley says everything is being done “by committee” and no one is in charge while every agency seems to have absolute veto power. High water booms he’d requested specifically for the AL coast were finally found and before they could be deployed were inexplicably moved elsewhere.

Now comes the turn of Mississippi. Oil is headed for the beaches and as one critic says, it just doesn’t have to happen. Rep Gene Taylor got off of a flight over the area angry:

“It’s criminal what’s going on out there,” Taylor said minutes later. “This doesn’t have to happen.” A scientist onboard, Mike Carron with the Northern Gulf Institute, said with this scenario, there will be oil on the beaches of the mainland.

“There’s oil in the Sound and there was no skimming,” Carron said. “No coordinated effort.”

He’s right – it doesn’t have to happen. We’ve been told ad nauseum that the federal government has the containment situation in hand having been on the job since “day one”. Obviously that’s fiction. After a couple of trips to shore up his image, President Obama is back to the routine of golf vs. crisis management.

But Mississippi apparently is going to suffer the same fate as Louisiana and Alabama. No booms, no skimmer, no coordinated effort.

There were dozens of boats of all sizes running around, some leaving trails through the sheen. Two boats among a group near Ship Island were pulling boom in a line, but not using it to round up oil. That was at 10 a.m.

Taylor slipped a note to a fellow passenger.

It said: “I’m having a Katrina flashback. I haven’t seen this much stupidity, wasted effort, money and wasted resources, since then.”

Back on land in Gulfport, Taylor let loose.

“A lot of people are getting paid to say, ‘Look! There’s oil’ and not doing anything about it,” Taylor said. “There shouldn’t be a drop of oil in the Sound. There are enough boats running around.

“Nobody’s in charge,” Taylor said. “Everybody’s in charge, so no one’s in charge.

“If the president can’t find anyone who can do this job,” he said, “let me do it.”

Taylor, for those who are wondering, is a Democrat.

The administration likes to refer to the oil leak as a “man-caused disaster”.

So far the administration’s efforts at containment, well into 60 days now, has been as much of a man-caused disaster as the leak. And, as Rep. Taylor notes, it doesn’t have to be that way.

~McQ


Is Keynesianism finally dead?

By that I mean the belief that massive public deficit spending is the cure for an economic recession/depression?

It should be. And that’s the argument going on in at the G20 meeting in Toronto. The US is urging Europe and the rest of the world to “pump it up”. The rest of the world, rightly in my estimation, is resistant to the plea. The WSJ reviews why for us, using the US’s experience as the case study:

Like many bad ideas, the current Keynesian revival began under George W. Bush. Larry Summers, then a private economist, told Congress that a “timely, targeted and temporary” spending program of $150 billion was urgently needed to boost consumer “demand.” Democrats who had retaken Congress adopted the idea—they love an excuse to spend—and the politically tapped-out Mr. Bush went along with $168 billion in spending and one-time tax rebates.

The cash did produce a statistical blip in GDP growth in mid-2008, but it didn’t stop the financial panic and second phase of recession. So enter Stimulus II, with Mr. Summers again leading the intellectual charge, this time as President Obama’s adviser and this time suggesting upwards of $500 billion. When Congress was done two months later, in February 2009, the amount was $862 billion. A pair of White House economists famously promised that this spending would keep the unemployment rate below 8%.

Seventeen months later, and despite historically easy monetary policy for that entire period, the jobless rate is still 9.7%. Yesterday, the Bureau of Economic Analysis once again reduced the GDP estimate for first quarter growth, this time to 2.7%, while economic indicators in the second quarter have been mediocre. As the nearby table shows, this is a far cry from the snappy recovery that typically follows a steep recession, most recently in 1983-84 after the Reagan tax cuts.

The chart in question:

2.7% is not good, especially when most of the spending is government spending. Or said another way – this isn’t a great advertisement for over a trillion dollars spent to “stimulate” the economy.

And, as you see here – for the money, job creation has been absolutely abysmal, except for government jobs.

Now couple all of that with the awful news about house sales this past month (down 33%) and it would appear, economically, that the “stimulus” has essentially failed in its dual role of stimulating economic and job growth, wouldn’t you say?

Yet it seems the spin doctors in the administration want to pretend otherwise and, by the way, hook the rest of the world on their public spending addiciton. Thankfully, at least for their citizens, most of the rest of the world isn’t buying into the scheme. We, however, are stuck with the world’s most profligate spendthrifts in the guise of the Obama administration and the Democratic Congress.

We are told to let Congress continue to spend and borrow until the precise moment when Mr. Summers and Mark Zandi and the other architects of our current policy say it is time to raise taxes to reduce the huge deficits and debt that their spending has produced. Meanwhile, individuals and businesses are supposed to be unaffected by the prospect of future tax increases, higher interest rates, and more government control over nearly every area of the economy. Even the CEOs of the Business Roundtable now see the damage this is doing.

That’s a long way of saying the anticipation of raised taxes to pay off this unprecedented and massive assumption of public debt is keeping businesses on the sidelines and the business atmosphere unsettled. They’re not about to expand their businesses until they have a much better handle on what it will cost them to do so. That’s why, for what little recovery is taking place, it is mostly a jobless one.

Most who understand at least rudimentary economics knows that some “stimulus” from government spending, coupled with other government actions, such as tax cuts for individuals and businesses, may have a beneficial effect in times of recession. The stimulus funds get money in circulation and the tax cuts encourage businesses to expand and hire.

What we’ve seen is nothing but “stimulus” – no tax cuts, no incentive for businesses to come off the side lines. Additionally we’ve seen attacks on the business community, calls for much more draconian regulation and new mandates imposed by legislation such as health care reform.

The result has been a seemingly perpetually unsettled business atmosphere that has provided absolutely no incentive for companies to expand or hire.

What we should have all taken from this is that government “stimulus” funded by massive public debt isn’t the answer we were led to believe it was and, when it is all that is done, is more of a problem than any sort of a solution. All the “stimulus” has managed to accomplish is the promise of large tax increases to pay down the debt it created.

The other service it hopefully has rendered is to prove defective the once cherished Keynesian belief that government can spend us out of recessions.

~McQ


Throwing a bit of ice on some AGW claims

Lots of stuff coming in under the oil spill and McChrystal radar. For instance, Antarctic ice melt (“PIG” refers to Pine Island Glacier, to which some scientists have attempted to attribute melting to man made sources – i.e. AGW):

Many scientists have theorised that the PIG’s accelerating flow is due to global warming. However, recent research – including surveys beneath the bottom of the floating, projecting ice sheet by Blighty’s Autosub robot probe – indicate that this may not be the case.

It appears from the Autosub’s under-ice surveys that the PIG’s ice flow formerly ground its way out to sea across the top of a previously unknown rocky underwater ridge, which tended to hold it back. Many years ago, however, before the area was surveyed in much detail, the glacier’s floating outflow sheet separated from the ridge top which it had been grinding away at for millennia and so picked up speed. This also allowed relatively warm sea water to get up under the sheet and so increase melting and ease of movement.

“The discovery of the ridge has raised new questions about whether the current loss of ice from Pine Island Glacier is caused by recent climate change or is a continuation of a longer-term process that began when the glacier disconnected from the ridge,” says Dr Adrian Jenkins of the British Antarctic Survey.

Really? There’s debate about whether a rock ridge might protect it from warmer sea water and thus when it broke away from it, what was then in the sea melted faster?

If there is debate, it’s face-saving debate. Instead why not admit to the fact that the theory its melting was driven by AGW was flawed because the information being used for the hypothesis was flawed (inaccurate and incomplete). Those that did the study conclude “the glacier would have shown the same acceleration and thinning it has shown since the 1990s with or without climate change.”

Moving on, this time to Arctic ice. A new study, using a new technique to measure ice thickness and distribution in the polar region (where we’ve been consistently told by the AGW crowd we’d be ice free soon) yielded these results:

Overall the researchers conclude that the distribution of old Arctic ice has changed little since 2007 and what changes there have been are well within the range of natural variability. They speculate that the large ice loss seen in 2007 may have been offset by weather patterns since then that prevented further ice loss.

“There is still hope for the ice,” said Christian Hass, adding that in many ways thje ice is in better shape entering the melt season than it has been for years. He dismisses suggestions that a “tipping point” may soon be encountered that will result in catastrophic, runaway ice loss. Extreme melts there may be, but he considered they would be compensated for by rapid recoveries.

Al Gore call your publicist. It seems that 2007 may have been an anomoly, but not one that was outside of the range any credible scientist would dismiss as “natural”.

And that also applies to Swiss glaciers as well – another favorite of the AGW crowd:

Matthias Huss and colleagues gather about 10,000 observations of glaciers in the Swiss Alps (daily ice melt, snow accumulation, ice and snow volume) made over the past 100 years and used them to create a computer model of some 30 glaciers.

Visible in the data was the influence of the very poorly understood Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO) – a regular change in sea surface temperatures on timescales of up to 60 years or more.

The glaciers studied generally lost mass during the 20th century although there were brief periods of mass gain in the second decade and in the 1970’s. In the 1940’s and since 1980 mass has been lost as more precipitation fell as rain rather than snow.

Last December, Huss published a study that showed that Swiss glaciers melted at a faster rate in the 1940’s than they do nowadays, and that glacier melting is influenced by long-term changes in solar radiation.

You know, that big yellow hot thing that hangs in the sky every day? Yeah, that. Note too that glaicer melt was more pronounced in the ’40s than now.

Conclusion:

In conclusion, the Swiss Alps now join Mt Kilimanjaro as having had a misleading press. We now know that Mt Kilimanjaro’s dramatic shrinkage of its summit glacier is due to decadal fluctuation in air moisture and not man’s effects. The changes seen in the Swiss Alps likewise seem to have a greater natural, perhaps even dominant, variation than has recently been reported. Glaciers are highly sensitive to many environmental factors, most of which cannot be laid at the door of man-made climate change.

All that to say you should be “cool” to any further suggestions by the Al Gore set that man is melting the ice caps and glaciers. Seems, as usual, to be a “misinterpretation” (one I see as deliberate) of natural phenomenon.

I’ll leave the “why” up to you, but the big three that come to mind for me are power, money and control. I’d also add that it appears that real science is finally beginning to prevail and show the AGW scare to be the big scam most of us skeptics thought it to be from the beginning.

~McQ


Dale’s Observations For 2010-06-25

Democrats simply cannot keep their hands off my wallet, and Republicans can't keep their hands off my penis.

Ummm…I mean…you know. #

Note toTexas GOP: if I'm not physically harming the person or property of a non-consenting adult, hows about you STFU? Limited government? #

Looking over the Texas GOP platform, I'm utterly unsurprised to see that Republicans are just as totalitarian as Democrats. #

HCR Redux: Chris Dodd says we'll have to wait until it's implemented before we know how the FinReg law will work. Surprises are fun! #

Dem official in WI calls for AZ boycott, says immigration law might be understandable if AZ was a border state. # Moron http://bit.ly/axIJci #

The iPhone 4 can have its signal blocked by the user's hand. Not that the Apple cultists care, but that's bad design. http://bit.ly/bkMfHE #

Russia's Duma considers giving the FSB, formerly the KGB, more sweeping powers. That's worked out so well in the past. http://bit.ly/9dyTyz #

The six million dollar cat. http://bit.ly/ahYItk #

ICANN is set to approve the .xxx domain for porn, something that should have been done a decade ago. http://bit.ly/c28Hw7 #

The home-buying tax credit not only inflated home sales artificially, it inflated the amount of fraud and abuse. http://bit.ly/aDqORx #

Jurors weigh cop's word against 5 felons in police torture trial. Sadly,I assume the felons are telling the truth. http://bit.ly/ajTHqe #

1Q GDP revised down to 2.7%. Not only is this well below post-recession trends, it's below the normal, long-term 3%. http://bit.ly/d5v702 #

Pakistan will monitor/block web sites for blasphemy, to prevent fright or confusion among the populace. http://bit.ly/b0mz6v #