Questions and Observations

Free Markets, Free People

Tired of shutdown talk – let’s hit global warming, shall we?

This is sure to make the followers of the religion of climate alarmism froth and scream:

A prominent climate scientist says the earth actually faces a global cooling crisis on the eve of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) release of its latest climate change report.
David Archibald, an Australian scientist and visiting fellow at the The Institute of World Politics (IWP) in Washington, D.C., said during an IWP presentation Wednesday that contrary to a perceived consensus among the scientific community, the planet’s climate is not warming. Global temperatures have essentially remained flat in the last thirty years, he said.

While temperatures have increased by a modest 0.8 degrees Celsius in the last 150 years, that rise is unremarkable compared to previous increases in earth’s history, he said. Temperature spikes have occurred for hundreds of thousands of years and were slightly higher in the Roman Empire and Medieval periods, he added, according to a Swedish study and data from ice cores in Vostok, Antarctica.

Additionally, about 80 percent of the warming that has occurred can be attributed to water vapor compared to about 10 percent for carbon dioxide, said Archibald. The IPCC’s report, scheduled for release Friday, is expected to state with 95 percent certainty that greenhouse-gas emissions generated by humans are responsible for 20th century warming.

“The IPCC models have failed,” Archibald said, adding that meetings like the 2009 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, Denmark are “hilarious.”

Indeed they are.  In fact, word has it that the newest IPCC report simply ignores the lack of warming the last 15 years.  That’s one way to hide the decline, isn’t it?

Archibald pretty much calls this what it is, ‘hilarious’.  Except that the politicians see a revenue angle, and that makes it much less hilarious and much more likely to see government’s hand in our wallet to address an invented crisis. So they cling to the myth of this religion.

Speaking of the alarmist fundies, how sad is this?

A meteorologist who has covered weather for the Wall Street Journal tweeted that he has decided not to have children in order to leave a lighter carbon footprint, and is considering having a vasectomy.

He also vowed to stop flying after the world’s recent climate-change report made him cry.

Eric Holthaus was reacting to the findings from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change which released a report on Friday that found it was ‘extremely likely’ that humans are causing warming trends seen in the last several decades.

On Friday afternoon the weatherman tweeted: ‘No children, happy to go extinct, which in and of itself, carries a certain sadness. #IPCC’

His next tweet said: ‘Its a very emotional decision. Mixed feelings. adios babies?’

According to another tweet from Holthaus, the Dutch artist known as Tinkebell, who calls attention to animal rights issues through works that use the remains of dead animals, had herself sterilised last week for a similar reason.

My goodness.  Frankly I wish more like him would opt for the “Holthaus solution”.

Al?!  Al Gore?!  Are you listening?

As for the religious aspects of alarmism, think about it:

Saying the science is settled is demanding what religions demand, that you have faith.

Religion has ritual. Global warming alarmism has recycling and Earth Day celebrations.

Some religions persecute heretics. Some global warming alarmists identify “denialists” and liken them to Holocaust deniers.

Religions build grand places of worship. Global warming alarmists promote the construction of windmills and solar farms that produce uneconomic and intermittent electricity.

Global warming alarmism even has indulgences like the ones Martin Luther protested. You can buy carbon offsets to gain forgiveness for travel on carbon-emitting private jet aircraft.

Some religions ban vulgar pleasures, like the New England Puritan sumptuary laws banning luxuries. Some global warming alarmists want to force most Americans out of big-lawn suburbs into high-rise apartments clustered around mass transit stations.

This last element seems to be dominant among many global warming alarmists. Stop the vulgar masses from living their tacky lifestyles driving those horrid SUVs. They must be made to repent, conform and be saved.

I’ll be glad when this particular eco-religion finally is tossed in the dust bin of history where it belongs.

Of course, there’ll be another one close on its heels, you can count on that, and the same “true believers” will be duped into climbing on to its bandwagon, because essentially they’re doomsdayers and this is what they do with their pathetic lives.

[HT: Moonbattery]


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Observations: The QandO Podcast for 29 Sep 13

This week, Bruce, Michael, and Dale discuss the government shutdown and Republican party.

The direct link to the podcast can be found here.


As a reminder, if you are an iTunes user, don’t forget to subscribe to the QandO podcast, Observations, through iTunes. For those of you who don’t have iTunes, you can subscribe at Podcast Alley. And, of course, for you newsreader subscriber types, our podcast RSS Feed is here.

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Rule of man, not of law? See ObamaCare (and much else)

Apparently our laws are arbitrary if you’re in a favored group.  All you have to do is appeal to the King for an exemption:

Back in 2009, when Democrats were writing the massive new national health care scheme, Iowa Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley offered an amendment. Obamacare created exchanges through which millions of Americans would purchase “affordable” health coverage. Grassley’s amendment simply required lawmakers, staff, and some in the executive branch to get their insurance through the exchanges, too.

To every Republican’s amazement, Democrats accepted the amendment. It’s never been fully clear why; the best theory is they intended to take the provision out in conference committee, but couldn’t do so because they lost their filibuster-proof 60-vote majority. In any event, Obamacare — the law of the land, as supporters like to say — now requires Congress to buy its health care coverage through the exchanges.

That has caused Democratic panic as the formal arrival of Obamacare nears. Right now, all lawmakers and staff are entitled to enjoy generously-subsidized coverage under the Federal Employees Health Benefits plan. Why give up that subsidy and go on the exchanges like any average American?

But that’s the law. It could be amended, but Democrats, who voted unanimously for Obamacare, couldn’t very well expect much help from Republicans, who voted unanimously against it. So over the summer Democrats asked President Obama to simply create an Obamacare exception for Capitol Hill.

And the King, looking down upon his faithful minions waved his hand and came up with a “solution” by executive fiat that uses tax dollars to circumvent the law:

Not long after — presto! — the Office of Personnel Management unveiled a proposed rule to allow members of Congress, their staff, and some executive branch employees to continue receiving their generous federal subsidy even as they purchase coverage on the exchanges. No ordinary American would be allowed such an advantage.

However, a rebellion was cooking:

Vitter watched the maneuvering that led to the OPM decision. He began work on what became the Vitter Amendment, which he likes to call “No Washington Exemption from Obamacare,” that would reverse the OPM ruling. It specifies that members of Congress, staff, the president, vice president and all the administration’s political appointees buy health coverage through Obamacare exchanges. If any of them earn incomes low enough to qualify for regular Obamacare subsidies, they will receive them — just like any other American. But those with higher incomes will have to pay for their coverage on the exchanges — just like everybody else.

Vitter hasn’t exactly thrilled his colleagues. “There has been a lot of pushback behind the scenes, including from many Republicans,” he says. Political types have complained that the requirement will cause “brain drain” on the Hill as staffers escape the burden of paying for their own coverage. “My response is, first of all, it’s the law,” says Vitter. “Look, this is a disruption. It’s exactly what’s happening across America, to people who are going to the exchanges against their will. To me, that’s the point.”

Ron Johnson, the Republican senator from Wisconsin, is one colleague delighted by Vitter’s move. The idea of equal Obamacare treatment for Washington is enormously popular around the country, Johnson points out, which means even lawmakers who don’t like it will be afraid to oppose it.

“I think most members don’t want to vote to reject the OPM ruling,” Johnson says. “But I think most members would vote to do that, if they were forced to, because it is so politically unpopular to have special treatment for members of Congress and their staff.”

Seems it should be unnecessary to again make it clear that Congress should have to obey the law – to the letter – just like everyone else.  That was what the original law said, no?  Yet they managed a workaround that defeated the intent of the law, didn’t they?

So now another amendment is now necessary?

And here I thought that these folks were servants of the people and not a ruling elite (by the way, the big excuse is there’ll be a huge “brain drain” if the law is left in place.  Let me be the first to say, given the shape our country and government are in at the moment, I’d welcome the ‘brain drain’).

Make ’em obey the law.  Make them navigate the same atrocity they foisted on the public.  No exemptions, no exceptions.  And that goes for every law they pass.



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Economic Statistics for 26 Sep 13

The Commerce Department’s final revision for 2nd Quarter GDP was unchanged at an annualized growth of 2.5%.

Initial jobless claims fell 5,000 last week, to 305,000. The 4-week moving average fell 7,000 to 308,000. Continuing claims rose 35,000 to 2.823 million.

The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index rose 0.7 points to -28.1.

The Kansas City Fed Manufacturing Index reports manufacturing slowing in their district, with the index down 6 point to 2 for September.

Corporate profits for the 2nd Quarter were revised down to $1.821 trillion from the initial estimate of $1.830 trillion.

The Fed reports that M2 Money Supply increased by $4.0 billion last week.

The Fed’s balance sheet rose $11.8 billion last week, with total assets of $3.734 trillion. Reserve Bank credit increased $22.6 billion.

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Let ObamaCare collapse on its own

While I took issue with John McCain’s refusal to do anything about defunding ObamaCare, my issue was with the refusal more than anything.  McCain had no alternative.  He just refused to do anything.

There is an alternative however.   And Daniel Henninger, in today’s Wall Street Journal, articulates it:

As its Oct. 1 implementation date arrives, ObamaCare is the biggest bet that American liberalism has made in 80 years on its foundational beliefs. This thing called “ObamaCare” carries on its back all the justifications, hopes and dreams of the entitlement state. The chance is at hand to let its political underpinnings collapse, perhaps permanently.

If ObamaCare fails, or seriously falters, the entitlement state will suffer a historic loss of credibility with the American people. It will finally be vulnerable to challenge and fundamental change. But no mere congressional vote can achieve that. Only the American people can kill ObamaCare.

No matter what Sen. Ted Cruz and his allies do, ObamaCare won’t die. It would return another day in some other incarnation. The Democrats would argue, rightly, that the ideas inside ObamaCare weren’t defeated. What the Democrats would lose is a vote in Congress, nothing more.

He’s right.  Defunding it simply leaves the question “would it have worked if you inbred Republicans hadn’t stopped it?  All indications are this abomination will collapse under it’s own fetid weight.  Why?  Because, as I said, it’s an abomination.

Consider this from Megan McArdle:

During the design and passage of the Affordable Care Act, its architects and supporters described a fantastic new system for buying insurance. You would go onto a website and enter some simple information about yourself. The computer system would fetch data about you from various places — it would verify income with the Internal Revenue Service, check with the Department of Homeland Security to ensure that you were a citizen or legal resident, and tap a database of employer coverage to make sure that you were not already being offered affordable coverage (defined as 9.5 percent of your income or less) by your employer. Provided you passed all those tests, it would calculate what subsidies you were eligible for, and then apply that discount automatically to the hundreds of possible policies being offered on the exchange. You would see the neatly listed prices and choose one, buying it as easily as you buy an airline ticket on Travelocity.

Before I went to business school, I used to work in an IT consultancy, and setting up this system sounded like an enormous job to me — a five- to eight-year job, given government procurement rules, not a three-year rush special. But Obamacare’s stewards seemed very confident, so I assumed that they must have it covered.

As time wore on, the administration has steadily stripped major components out of the exchanges and the data hub behind them as it became clear that they couldn’t possibly make the Oct. 1 deadline when all of this was supposed to be ready. The employer mandate was delayed, and then it was announced that at least some of the exchanges would be relying on self-reporting of income, rather than verifying with the IRS. . . .

How did we get to this point? The exchanges were the core selling point of Obamacare. (The Medicaid expansion was actually a bigger part of the coverage expansion, at least until the Supreme Court ruled that the administration couldn’t force states to take part, but it tended to be downplayed, because no one’s exactly a huge fan of Medicaid.) They were going to introduce competition to a fragmented and distorted marketplace, and make it easy for middle-class people to buy affordable coverage from a bevy of insurers. How can it be that one week before the deadline for opening, no one’s really sure the exchanges are going to work?

No exchanges, no ObamaCare.

Oh, and be amazed by the usual government planning:

I work for one of the largest Telecom providers in the country. I’m an engineer who designs dedicated data links (DS3s, OC3s, etc…) for major companies across the US.

For background, some of these circuits can be put up fairly quickly, but not the ones that I work on. The ones I design can take up to 90 business days to install.

Anyways, a few weeks ago, we got deluged with orders for circuits that needed to be installed by October 1st. These were circuits to support Obamacare.

Needless to say, they aren’t going to make that deadline. Some of the circuits are being held up due to construction builds that won’t be complete until the end of November. The others won’t make the deadline due to the complexity and the number of various companies involved.

Yes, these are the same people you handed your health care too.

Soooo … what will the administration do?  Well, delay it of course.  But again I point you to McArdle’s point.  We’re not simply talking about a simple IT project here.  It may never work.

Henninger’s point is very valid.  So I officially sanction Dale’s point of view in this case and say “let ’em have it (good and hard)”.  Let them have the bureaucracy, frustration, increased cost and incompetence that has been the hallmark of the Democrats and this administration.  Then:

An established political idea is like a vampire. Facts, opinions, votes, garlic: Nothing can make it die.

But there is one thing that can kill an established political idea. It will die if the public that embraced it abandons it.

Six months ago, that didn’t seem likely. Now it does.

The public’s dislike of ObamaCare isn’t growing with every new poll for reasons of philosophical attachment to notions of liberty and choice. Fear of ObamaCare is growing because a cascade of news suggests that ObamaCare is an impending catastrophe.

And catastrophe it is.  Let is burn.  Let it crash, burn and kill this nonsense once and for all.


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Economic Statistics for 25 Sep 13

The MBA reports that mortgage applications rose 5.5% last week, with purchases up 7.0% and re-fis 5.0%.

Durable goods orders in August edged up 0.1% after dropping a huge 8.1% in July. Ex-transportation orders fell -0.1%. On a year-over-year basis, orders rose 13.7% at the headline level, while ex-transportation orders rose 7.6%.

New home sales rose 7.9% in August on softer prices to an annual rate of 421,000.

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Are you ready for some “ObamaCare”!?

It is your wallet which is going to need “conditioning” for this “improved” health care system:

Based on a Manhattan Institute analysis of the HHS numbers, Obamacare will increase underlying insurance rates for younger men by an average of 97 to 99 percent, and for younger women by an average of 55 to 62 percent. Worst off is North Carolina, which will see individual-market rates triple for women, and quadruple for men.

Of course you’ve seen the lies smoke that HHS has been putting out about how cost will be down, right?  By 16%.  But they never really tell you down from what, do they?

“Premiums nationwide will also be around 16 percent lower than originally expected,” HHS cheerfully announces in its press release. But that’s a ruse. HHS compared what the Congressional Budget Office projected rates might look like—in 2016—to its own findings. Neither of those numbers tells you the stat that really matters: how much rates will go up next year, under Obamacare, relative to this year, prior to the law taking effect.

That’s right, they’ve apparently learned from Congress about “spending cuts”.  You know, when they spend less than they projected they’d spend but more than they did last year?  Yeah, “spending cuts”.

Instead, the travesty that is called ObamaCare will be adding on to everyone’s bill (to include those getting a subsidy).  Those below 40 get hammered.  And those at 40?  Not so good either:

The cheapest exchange plan for the average enrollee, compared to what a 40-year-old would pay today, will cost an average of 99 percent more for men, and 62 percent for women.

For this cohort, men fared worst in North Carolina, with rate increases of 305 percent. Women got hammered in Nebraska, where rates will increase by a national high of 237 percent. Again, Colorado and New Hampshire fared best, with 17 percent and 5-8 percent declines, respectively.

Remember that here, we aren’t conducting an exact comparison. Instead we’re comparing the lowest-cost bronze plan offered to the average participant in the exchanges, to the cheapest plan offered to 40-year-olds today. This approach artificially flatters Obamacare, because the median age of an exchange participant is, in most states, below the age of 40.


I’ve always wondered how making everyone get insurance, subsidizing those who can’t “afford” it, and adding layer upon layer of bureaucracy could make health care “more affordable”. Common sense tells you it won’t.

Common sense is right.

… Again.


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Economic Statistics for 24 Sep 13

In weekly retail sales, ICSC-Goldman Store Sales fell -1.0% following last week’s -1.6% drop. Year-over-year sales growth is at a weak 1.6%. Conversely, Redbook is reporting solid retail sales, up 3.6% from last year.

The FHFA House Price Index rose 1.0% in July, with the year-over-year increase coming in at 8.8%.

The S&P Case-Shiller home price index is up 0.6% in July, with a year-over-year increase of 12.4%.

Consumer confidence continues to sag, with the Conference Board’s index falling -1.8 points to 79.7 in September.

The Richmond Fed Manufacturing Index shows no change in September, with the index flat at 0.

The State Street Investor Confidence Index dropped to 101.4 in September from July’s 105.1.

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